Obtaining a sufficient geologist education begins in high school when individuals should begin preparing with relevant courses. A Bachelor’s degree is required to obtain an entry level position in the field, but Master’s and even Doctorate degrees can help candidates obtain the highest-paying and most secure positions in the industry.

High School

The path to becoming a successful geologist begins in high school. Here, prospective geologists should focus their studies on subjects like mathematics, science, biology, physics and similar courses. If the school offers the opportunity to participate in laboratory studies, these can also be very helpful as geologists will often spend as much of their time in the lab as they do in the field. Since many geologists are hired by the US government, particularly in the natural gas and oil industries, a good high school GPA is important. This will ensure entry into the most prestigious schools and will therefore help students find better jobs after graduation.

Undergraduate Degrees

Although there are still colleges that allow the opportunity to earn a Bachelor of Science in Geology degree, this is typically only seen as a precursor to a graduate degree in the field and will provide students with the opportunity to work in entry-level positions. With only a Bachelor’s degree, which takes three to four years to earn at a cost of between $5,000 and $20,000 per year depending on the school, individuals can expect to work in the lab assisting a geologist. In a few rare cases, individuals who have earned a Bachelor’s degree are invited out into the field to assist as well.

Graduate Degrees

A Master’s degree program may result in a Master of Science in Applied Geology or a Master of Science in Geology degree, takes a total of two to four years to earn, and comes at a cost of between $8,000 and $30,000 per year on average depending on the school. This degree opens up brand new possibilities for geologists and allows them to pursue careers independently rather than working as assistants. Finally, a Doctor of Geology or Doctor of Geological Engineering degree is necessary for individuals who are more interested in geologist training positions or those who want to work in the field of research. It takes a total of eight to ten years after high school to earn a PhD with a total price tag of more than $100,000 in all.

Licensure and Certification

In some states, geologists are required to be licensed before they can practice. There is no one licensing body; rather, each state that requires licensure has its own regulatory body that will issue licensure to those who pass. The ASBOG, or National Association of State Boards of Geology, has developed tests that measure the competency and knowledge of individuals who wish to become licensed or certified. This group not only issues study materials in preparation for exams, but it also helps students and practicing geologists by keeping track of changing laws.
Individuals who are interested in entering the field of geology have a variety of options available them when it comes to the degrees they pursue. Each degree type brings with it new opportunities in this growing and ever-changing field of study.