There is often a misconception of what a geologist does. As a geologist myself I always needed to explain. In my whole career I had to clarify what I do professionally.
At the begging it was my parents who straggled the most. In detail a plumber and a cleaning lady had difficulty to understand. They did not know what is geology and how it can be useful for the society.
Later when I got my new job as environmental geologist, the questions changed. In specific none seemed to get it what is my job and why I get a salary.
The true purpose of geologists
Geology is a very challenging profession. Specifically it is a science that interacts with other sciences: chemistry, physics, mathematics etc.
Its complexity lies to the fact that there is no certainty. Hence scientist are doing a lot of research to reach validation.
The only way to reach certainty in geology was to time travel million of years ago. In this way we can see how things actually occurred.
However we still can not time travel just yet. That is why geologists do exist.
Geologists’ work shaping our daily lives
For centuries they are able to give explanations for the greatest mysteries of our planet and beyond. Specifically they study the Earth and its event.
By doing so they can give reasons on disasters. In this way they can help building resistant infrastructure.
On the other hand, and as science evolves, geology has many more applications.
That is why there is no simple explanation on what a geologist does. No longer the answer is ‘he studies rocks’.
Having done this for decades now, they have studied them more than enough. Little are still unknown.
A way to see this is to study the history of geological maps for more than 500 years. From simple sketches, now, we have small-scale high-detailed maps.
Nowadays geologist solve more crucial problems on the environment, the public health and the planet. Nowhere in history, geology is not more essential than now.
Earth scientists are essential to reach sustainable development goals
Sustainability is more important now than ever. Often it is essential for products and services.
However to reach sustainability, scientists need to find solutions. In addition threads, like climate change and global warming, challenge them.
Earth scientists understand Earth and they can find solutions than are applicable and curable.
Hence UNESCO aims to influence governments into adding Earth Science in their educational system. Earth Science Education in Africa initiative focuses on training teachers on how to introduce earth sciences to children.
Moreover the organisation is explaining the contribution of geosciences into 7 of the 17 global Sustainable Development Goals of United Nations. Their scientific program targets the following goals:
- End poverty in all its forms everywhere
- Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
- Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
- Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
- Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
- Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
- Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development
Step-by-step on how to become a geologist
Step 1: Pre-university involvement
Depending on which country you live, you may have the opportunities to learn more about Earth Sciences. In many schools of the developed countries there are school programs or groups to join for students interested in this science.
I, myself, did not have these potentials. So I went to the governmental geological survey department to ask for the profession potentials.
However you may want to dig a little deeper than I did. Firstly you can use the internet to learn more. However you need to be careful. Not every information is accurate or it is applicable in your country.
Secondly you can visit natural history museums or geoparks. Anywhere that provides some educational activity or knowledge in geology.
Step 2: Get a BSc Degree in Geology/Geosciences
Sometimes I hear of geologists that they got a BSc degree in a specific discipline of geology. For your own benefit it is better to start with a degree that has courses in many different branches of geology.
In addition some universities can label the degree in ‘geology’ or ‘geosciences’. The latest degree may consider geology as a discipline that focuses on geological mapping.
By studying the many disciplines of geology, you can learn what fascinates you. In addition, in this science, everything are connected. Therefore you may need the knowledge at some point later.
Step 3: Obtain expertise with an additional degree
When you decide on your expertise you can get further education with a MSc degree. If you decide to become an academic it is better to continue your studies as a PhD student.
In some cases you may need to obtain 2 MSc degrees for branches of geology that are multi-disciplined. For example, medical geology is a field of geology between environmental geology and environmental health.
Step 4: Find employment, even if the job does not fit your expectations fully
Almost everywhere in the world, geologists have usually the same employment opportunities as artists. In many instances, employment is low and unstable.
For example, jobs in oil industry were always high-paid and numerous. However the latest years, a lot of scientists leave the industry. This is because of the decrease in job positions.
Hence you must be flexible in job hunting. In any how, experience is always important not only for employers but also for you as well.
Gaining professional experience may help you to finally get your dream job.
Step 5: Apply for your licence
According to law you must get a licence to work as a geologist. In order to do so you must apply to your national body for a license. In other words you will be an annual fee for your licence.
No matter where you work, at a university or a company, you must get your licence.
Keep learning. Keep growing.