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How to Become a Geoscientist

Most geoscientist jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree. In several states, geoscientists may need a license to offer their services to the public.


Geoscientists need at least a bachelor’s degree for entry-level positions. A Ph.D. is necessary for most high-level research and college teaching positions.

A degree in geosciences is preferred, although degrees in physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, engineering, or computer science are usually accepted if they include coursework in geology.

Most geosciences programs include geology courses in mineralogy, petrology, and structural geology, which are important for all geoscientists. In addition to classes in geology, most programs require students to take courses in other physical sciences, mathematics, engineering, and computer science.

Computer knowledge is essential for geoscientists. Students who have experience with computer modeling, data analysis, and digital mapping will be the most prepared to enter the job market.

Many employers seek applicants who have gained field and laboratory experience while pursuing a degree. Summer field camp programs offer students the opportunity to work closely with professors and to apply their classroom knowledge in the field. Students can gain valuable experience in data collection and geologic mapping.

Important Qualities

Critical-thinking skills. Geoscientists base their findings on sound observation and careful evaluation of data. 

Interpersonal skills. Most geoscientists work as part of a team with engineers, technicians, and other scientists.

Problem-solving skills. Geoscientists work on complex projects filled with challenges.

Speaking skills. Geoscientists must be able to explain their findings to clients or professionals who do not have a background in geosciences.

Stamina. Geoscientists may need to hike to remote locations while carrying testing and sampling equipment when they conduct fieldwork.

Writing skills. Geoscientists write reports and research papers that explain their findings.


Geoscientists need a license to practice in some states. Requirements vary by state but typically include minimum education and experience requirements and a passing score on an exam.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition