Notices
Results 1 to 14 of 14

Thread: Geology as a career?

  1. #1 Geology as a career? 
    New Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Sverige
    Posts
    4
    I'm going to the university this fall, and I'm having a hard time deciding if Geology is the right path. Right now I'm on the first of five years towards becoming a computer engineer, but I really don't like office-environments and working in front of computer-screens can be quite energy-draining (although I really like to work with computers).

    To be honest, I've never had a great interest in rocks (well I find most things related to natural science to be interesting, but for me there are more interesting fields like for example Biology. I also know there is a lot more to Geology). But then, the job-description sounds amazing.

    Why I'm considering Geology:
    * I love to be outdoors.
    * I love problem-solving.
    * I've always found subjects touching natural science to be interesting.
    * I LOVE To travel.
    * I really don't enjoy office-environments.
    * Photography is something I really enjoy, and I'm thinking it's possible to combine this hobby with my work when traveling.

    I'm thinking about prospecting/mineralogy. As I understand it, you get to travel a lot, work outside in the field, it's somewhat well paid and it offers both problem-solving and great variation.

    Does this sound about right? Is this a realistic view of what it's like to work with prospecting? Could this career fit me even if I'm not in love with rocks?

    Appreciate your help


    Reply With Quote  
     

  2.  
     

  3. #2  
    Forum Professor jrmonroe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Posts
    1,444
    I'd try googling job geology to learn about education required, details of the work itself, availability of employment opportunities, locations, pay scale, future prospects (no pun intended), etc.

    Generally, schools give students a taste of everything, but not how it's applied to real life (such as, what geologists actually do). If you like the sciences, which you seem to do, I'd research the sciences from a career perspective.

    Try developing an dialogue with at least a few geologists, either in business (ie, geologists in government, corporate, etc) and academics (ie, professors of geology).

    I'd also take an MBTI (or similar) test to find your natural leanings of how you perceive the world and make decisions.


    Grief is the price we pay for love. (CM Parkes) Our postillion has been struck by lightning. (Unknown) War is always the choice of the chosen who will not have to fight. (Bono) The years tell much what the days never knew. (RW Emerson) Reality is not always probable, or likely. (JL Borges)
    Reply With Quote  
     

  4. #3  
    Forum Freshman jsloan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Posts
    56
    I agree with jrmonroe. Talk to some professional geologists, ask them what all they do and what a career can offer.

    Also, if you haven't had a course in geology before, think about taking physical geology, followed by historical geology. That should give you a good introduction to the field.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  5. #4  
    Reptile Dysfunction drowsy turtle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    2,256
    There are lots of fields within geology that don't particularly involve rocks, like geophysics, hydrology and palaeontology. But be aware, if you do a degree in geology, you will have to learn at least a bit about rocks to start with, as part of the necessary background knowledge for whatever area you wish to specialise in later.
    "The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair." ~ Douglas Adams
    Reply With Quote  
     

  6. #5  
    Forum Sophomore
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    127
    I'm an exploration geologist that works in the Canadian Shield, so I can definitely give you some insight into how we do things here. You may also want to search some of my previous posts as I know I've responded to other queries on this forum in the past.

    In terms of outdoors, if that's up your alley, then hard-rock exploration is for you. Field seasons typically consist of traverses, mapping, sampling, soil surveys, drilling, etc. My first gig in northern Manitoba was smack-dab in a big pile of muskeg, and it took us about 3 hours one way to drive 5-6 km to the drill on ATVs. We destroyed more than one winch on account of getting stuck so much. In this case, the company wasn't too bright - it should have been a winter drill program. This summer was much nicer in that I got to fly around in a helicopter in northern Quebec doing reconnaissance-scale mapping and prospecting. However, the bugs were brutal.

    The same goes with travel - you do a lot of it. You generally work project to project and depending on the company, that could be the high Arctic one season, or South America the next. I know guys in my graduating year that worked in Brazil, Australia, and Senegal as summer students. This strongly depends on the company and their properties.

    Since geology is a forensic science, there's a lot of questions and constant revisions in your work. Nothing is for certain, and you have to rely a lot on induction to get anywhere. We typically employ 'multiple working hypotheses' as we map, because it could be one thing, or it could be another, and as we investigate we kind of chalk up marks for each potential explanation and then later decide on a model that seems to explain what's going on. Not to knock on engineers, but they typically have trouble with this idea. I guess they are taught that there's a concrete formula for anything? In geology, this is most certainly not the case.

    Things to keep in mind: geology is vast, emergent science. It comprises, chemistry, biology, physics, environmental and atmospheric sciences, materials science and pretty much anything else you can shake a stick it. Do you want to study igneous, metamorphic, or sedimentary rocks? Volcanology? Structural geology? Geochemistry? Hydrogeology? Paleontology? Glaciology? Tectonics? Which kind of tectonics - Archean (older than 2.5 billion years old) or Phanerozoic (542 million years ago to present day)? Would you prefer geophysics: seismology, gravity, magnetics?

    Consider these rhetorical questions - you'll learn about all of them (no kidding). This is just to give you an idea of the untapped science that geology really is, and where you can potentially go with it.

    Edit: I should also add that you don't have to be in love with rocks; a sandstone is a sandstone, a granite is a granite - big deal! In my opinion, what you should be 'in love with' is the picture they paint of Earth history. Each rock has a story, each assemblage is a mystery, and a good geologist should love to uncover what the story could possiblly be. Again, just my opinion. I can't get excited about limestone, but I can get excited about a mass extinction horizon in that limestone. See what I mean?
    Reply With Quote  
     

  7. #6  
    Forum Sophomore
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    127
    Some photos from the field:


    Navigating glacial drift in Nunavik during a mapping traverse.


    When I say bad bugs, I MEAN bad bugs! Nunavik.



    Caribou stag checking us out on traverse. Nunavik.


    Morning commute to work, by boat. Grenville, Quebec.


    Close encounter with a Canadian lynx. Grenville, Quebec.


    Helicopter-based hydrogeochemical survey in northwestern Ontario.


    Trench-mapping in northwestern Ontario.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  8. #7  
    New Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Sverige
    Posts
    4
    Thank you everyone for your responses. Also, AWESOME pictures Tenderheart Bear!

    I've went to the university and talked to the director of studies and study advisor for 2,5 hours. I also asked students what they thought of the education/why they went for Geology and I'm finding it more and more interesting. I'm really leaning towards going through with Geology.

    One question though:
    What about family/relationships? I imagine that many Geologists are away from home for long periods of time, how does that impact family life/relations with friends? If I would ever like to "settle down", would I have that option after working in fields of Geology where traveling is necessary?

    Once again, I appreciate your help!
    Reply With Quote  
     

  9. #8  
    New Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Wilson, Vermont
    Posts
    3
    Before, I wanted to be a Geology as my future career but now I am addicted in any computer courses.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  10. #9  
    Forum Ph.D.
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    894
    Quote Originally Posted by kenbarls
    Before, I wanted to be a Geology as my future career but now I am addicted in any computer courses.
    Do you still believe it is possible "we started in a monkey"?
    Have you considered a career in theoretical physics?
    Reply With Quote  
     

  11. #10  
    Forum Sophomore
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    127
    Quote Originally Posted by vane505
    One question though:
    What about family/relationships? I imagine that many Geologists are away from home for long periods of time, how does that impact family life/relations with friends? If I would ever like to "settle down", would I have that option after working in fields of Geology where traveling is necessary?

    Once again, I appreciate your help!
    The career can indeed be hard on relationships. Hop-in-a-plane-and-go style exploration can see you away for 3-4 weeks at a time which is really difficult if you're married and have children. It's great if you're a young guy or gal who wants to explore the world a bit and doesn't have too many ties.

    For those interested in settling down, they might choose a company or role that affords a bit more stability. For example, junior exploration companies that don't produce are the most volatile in terms of work and work location. Now, if you work for an established exploration company, or a major company with one or more mines, it's significantly more stable. You might spend 20 years with a major in one location where you can buy a house and raise a family. This type of work tends to be more regular with less travelling, but there's still a lot of production exploration going on because the company always wants to further refine their deposit, or figure out where more of it might be within that local area.

    Couple of examples: a buddy of mine works in exploration at a minesite in a small town about two hours from a decent-sized city (700,000 people). He has a schedule 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off. The company drills in the area, sometimes within 10 m of the nearby road. He can go out to check on the drills, grab the core, and be sitting in a coffee shop 20 minutes later for break. Because the company is established, they do their core-logging and modelling on site under a roof. Equal parts office and field. When he's off work, he drives back to the city to spend 2 weeks hanging out with his wife and baby daughter in an urban setting.

    Another friend of mine works much further north in a small town of about 1,500 people. The company owns a mine at that location, and recently discovered a new deposit they're exploring and putting into production in ~2015, so she lives in the town and is in for the long-haul, or at least four more years. Because of the lack of roads, she shows up to the office in the morning to check in and see what's what, and then drives out to the airport for a chopper ride to the drills. This is to check on the progress, set up a new drill, shut one down, etc. Then, she'll fly back to the minesite to look at and log some of the core. There's usually a meeting in there to discuss the progress of the drilling with a head geo, etc. Lot's of variation, indoors and out. Definitely more stable than wandering the tundra for 28 days straight.

    Because of the Bre-X scandal in the 90s, geologists are now required to obtain professional designation. This doesn't mean that newcomers can't do geology, but it means that your work needs to be signed off by a P.Geo. Being a geologist-in-training (GIT) after graduation requires 48 months/4 years of work experience before you get your ticket. Some people - this is what I'm doing - will spend their GIT period doing exploration and getting as much varied experience as possible, and then will 'settle down' once they become a P.Geo. As a mine site geologist, maybe you're a manager, modeller, or chief geologist. In exploration, you might be a project geologist or exploration manager. In that role you will go out into the field to see how things are going, but you may only be out there for a week. Much easier on the personal relationships.

    Then, of course, there are other fields - environmental consulting is getting big now, and is pretty favourable to family life. Petroleum geology is very urbanized and office-like - great for family, not so great if you like the outdoors because you're almost never out of the office (but there's a LOT of problem solving). Numerous government surveys exist, and they usually employ a 2-3 month field season during the summer with 7-10 months of invesigative office/lab work during the winter in a larger urban centre. Many of the survey geologists have families and stable home lives. One woman we've worked with lives in the Yukon and does contract work for companies doing petrographic descriptions of rock samples and then writing up a report on them in the comfort of her own home.

    Again, this is within a Canadian context - other countries may do things differently; I don't have the personal experience to attest to that. As well, your career arc is entirely specific to the company you work for and what their status is, where their projects are located, etc. It's not always an easy or stable career, but it can be quite lucrative and rewarding, and there are opportunities to branch out later in life towards other fields if you find your interests and experiences evolve.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  12. #11  
    Forum Sophomore
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    171
    Let me put my humble experience of petroleum geologist.
    I started in 1986, worked on some oil rigs in France and quickly in Congo as "mud logger". Poorly paid, interesting at the beginning but quickly boring. Then I moved to Angola, still as mud logger in 88. In 89, I was transfered in Nigeria and I was instructing people there, making pore pressure prediction (very interesting) and wellsite geology job (quite interesting as well).
    In 93, I was made redundant and I joined another company. I worked in France, US, Venezuela, Argentina, Mexico and other countries in Europe on various job, mainly computer related.
    I am presently in West Africa and my job consists mainly of developing business and relationships with governement. It is very interesting, quite a lot of high level meeting and contact, yesterday for example, I spent 1 hour with the minister of Petroleum of a quite large country of West Africa.

    EDIT: oups, I clicked too fast. I do not regret one time my choice of geologist or my career path. Despite money was not always there when needed, I have a lot of fun, I travelled a lot, met amazing people. I still work on some high tech subject such as application of AI and data mining for geosciences. So, knowing what you said, I will tell you: CHOSE THAT.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  13. #12 Question. 
    New Member
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    3
    Just asking. If I were to take Geology and graduate, can I choose whether to go out on the field or in the office? And can I work with my husband in the field, if I chose to?
    Reply With Quote  
     

  14. #13  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    14,169
    It very much depends on what kind of geologist you wish to become. Note that most geologists do not work as field geologists throughout their careers. Many graduate geologists never work as geologists at all. That's my experience in the oil industry.

    Makandal(?) mentioned working as a mudlogger. I have probably met over a thousand geologists in my career and very few of them were working geologists at any time. Mudloggers, wireline logging specialists, MWD technicians, mud engineers, etc. In the two companies I have worked in most of the middle management positions were filled by graduate geologists as were many of the sales roles. Geology, like many degrees, opens doors because it says you have a certain level of smarts and competence. After that it's up to you and a bit of luck.

    Keep in mind that some companies will not accept married couples or partners working in the same department. Other companies may welcome it.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  15. #14  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Uppsala, Sweden
    Posts
    18
    I don't know what to add to this thread really, everybody has summarized what being a geologist can be about, but I think that tenderheart bear put it the best. Getting an solid understanding of the entire history (at least of what we know so far) of our planet, the only one that is of major concern to us, is as important as it is fascinating! And to repeat something tenderheart bear said " Each rock has a story, each assemblage is a mystery, and a good geologist should love to uncover what the story could possiblly be."

    What I can add, though is that I am also from Sweden, I am studying in Uppsala and I am on my 3rd year of my bachelor's degree. So if you have any specific questions, feel free to PM me, and who knows, perhaps I will greet you welcome at the Geocentrum come fall

    Ps. Oh, and my plan is to continue with a masters in Hydrology/Hydrogeology, since I find groundwater in particular, a very important topic. even though as a child all i wanted to become was an paleontologist and dig up dinosaurs :P
    Reply With Quote  
     

Bookmarks
Bookmarks
Posting Permissions
  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •