Geoscience Jobs by Sector


The broad field of geoscience encompasses many sub-fields and types of occupations. Categorizing geoscience jobs into sectors is a useful way to identify geoscience jobs that require similar skills and specialties. Remember, the geoscience workforce is dynamic and occupations can span multiple sectors. Approach the job search with a focus on your skills, motivations, and interests.

The Jobs by Sector career resources detail the types of occupations held by geoscientists, strategies for securing employment, and insight from working geoscientists.


The public sector includes federal, state, local (municipal or county), and tribal governments. Geoscientists are employed by government agencies and laboratories to conduct research, assess building sites, monitor natural hazards, manage natural and energy resources, practice environmental law, support education, communicate science, and more.


The private, for-profit sector employs geoscientists in the industries like oil and gas, geotechnical, geothermal, hydrogeology, and environmental services. Geoscientists can also work for engineering firms, commercial laboratories, real estate companies and developers, law firms, and private research institutes.


The civil society sector includes non-profit and non-governmental organizations. Geoscientists often work in organizations focused on environmental issues and the preservation of natural resources, but geoscience skills are applicable to a wide range of non-profit missions. Roles in non-profits range from scientific researcher to data analyst to communications specialist.


The education sector encompasses K-12 education at public, private, and charter schools, as well as education and outreach programs in schools, museums, and science institutes. Colleges and universities also hire staff in various offices for supporting student success. Outreach and education roles in museums or similar institutions often overlap with jobs in the communications sector with an emphasis on public engagement.


Geoscientists work in policy as legislative experts for industry companies, non-profit organizations, federal agencies, and some scientific societies. Legislative positions are also available within Congress. Though policy roles can be found throughout the government, industry, and non-profit sectors, policy is defined here as its own sector because these jobs often require additional education or experience and specialized skill sets.


Geoscientists in communications are employed as science journalists, as well as media relations or communications specialists for a variety of organizations from research institutions to television broadcast companies. Science communications jobs may be focused on print (newspapers, magazines, online publications, research features, illustration) or non-print (social media, podcasting, radio, television) formats.

  • 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.
  • We welcome feedback from the geoscience community. Please contact us with your suggestions, including new career resources and Ask an Expert contacts.
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