Congress is just one place where geoscientists can find a position in science policy and legislation. Professional societies, private and non-profit organizations, and government agencies also offer opportunities for policy careers. Read more below to learn about the differences between these types of employers and find employer examples. 


Within Congress, congressional staffers work to support the legislative goals of a member of Congress or a congressional committee by meeting with constituents, federal agencies, and other parties. This role requires broad expertise on the issues a staffer handles (for example, environmental concerns) and the ability to communicate science effectively to general audiences. Because congressional staffers work on all stages of legislation development, they can significantly influence federal policy while making connections with influential people in government. 

    United States Senate
    United States House of Representatives

Government Agencies

Geoscientists working in federal offices of legislative affairs are the primary point of contact between federal agencies and Congress. The responsibilities of this role include the development of the agency's legislative agenda, communication of the agency's position on proposed legislation, and preparation of agency officials for briefings and hearings. Most federal agencies have an office of legislative affairs; refer to the government sector resources for geoscience-related government agencies.

Example employers:
    US Geological Survey Congressional Liaison Office 
    US DOI Office of Congressional & Legislative Affairs
    USDA Office of Congressional Relations 
    NOAA Office of Legislative & Intergovernmental Affairs
    NASA Office of Legislative Affairs
    EPA Congressional & Intergovernmental Relations

Institutes & Non-Profits

Many private businesses, research institutes, and non-profit organizations hire policy experts with expertise in fields relevant to the organization's agenda. The expertise of geoscientists is valuable to organizations focused on environmental issues like natural resource conservation, natural hazards, marine and coastal ecosystem protection, and more. These roles often involve ensuring compliance with regulations, following legislation related to the organization's priorities, and communicating with congressional staffers, members of Congress, and other legislators to advocate for proposed bills. 

Example employers:
    The Nature Conservancy
    The Earth Institute Center on Global Energy Policy
    Environmental and Energy Study Institute
    Environmental Defense Fund
    IDA Science and Technology Policy Institute

Professional Societies

Some professional societies have a branch concerned with public policy and science (e.g., government relations or public relations) that may employ geoscientists to monitor policy issues, advocate for funding of scientific research, create position statements on relevant legislation, or provide resources to scientists and policymakers to aid in the legislative process. Due to the limited number of professional societies with policy initiatives, open positions may be rare.

Example employers:
   American Geophysical Union Science Policy
   Geological Society of American Science Policy 
   American Geosciences Institute Policy & Critical Issues
   AAPG Geoscience and Energy Policy Office
   AAAS Office of Science, Policy and Society Programs  

  • GROW is a collection of career resources for undergraduate and graduate students in the geosciences, intended to help students identify and pursue career paths beyond academia.
  • This project was supported by the National Science Foundation (Award #1911527) and our many contributors who generously volunteered their time and knowledge to assist our team.

  • Any opinions, findings, and recommendations expressed here are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation nor of contributor employers.
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