Geologist Career Information
What a Geologist does
Then a career as a geologist might just be your calling. Who knows, you might even figure in Discovery or National Geographic channel. So let's find out how you can understand mother earth better.
The study of earth's history, composition and structure is what geology is all about. You will explore deserts, oceans, mountains, etc. and understand its nature. You will go in to the field, collect samples, analyse it in a laboratory and predict about the nature of earth and its constituents.
Your projects will take you far and wide and into some of the most inhospitable terrains on earth. As a geologist you can specialize in any of the following areas:
Mineralogy - As a geologist you will take soil samples and test it for various minerals. You will estimate the quality and quantity of minerals like coal, calcium, sodium, etc.
Petrology - Here as a geologist you will hunt for that elusive black gold (oil). If you hit the jackpot not only you and your company but your country too would reap the benefits of your discovery for generations.
Hydrology - This deals with the study of water resources. Here as a geologist you will hunt for underground sources of water and study existing ones. This will have the most direct impact on human beings.
Paleontology - You will hunt for dinosaur bones and other creatures that are now extinct. Here as a geologist you will make up scenarios, as to how the earth was when these animals were around and what led to their extinction.
Structural Geology - This involves testing the soil to determine the feasibility of undertaking projects such as dams, bridges, etc.
Geochemistry - This is concerned with the chemistry of earth's materials. Here as a geologist you will use principles of chemistry to research the earth's chemical composition. You will also determine the chemical characteristics of minerals and fossil fuels like coal, gas, oil, etc.
Geophysics - Here as a geologist you will apply principles of physics to research and study earth's gravitation and electro-magnetic field.
Marine Geology - Here as a geologist you will research and study the ocean bed and ocean-continent interactions.
Seismology - Here as a geologist you will study everything about earthquakes - analyse their behavior and interpret data to forecast earthquakes.
As a geologist you could also specialize in areas such as environmental geology and geomorphology (study of the origin of land forms) and historical geology (study of rock layers and sedimentation).
The biggest employer is the government of India. You can become a surveyor with the Geological Survey of India (GSI) through the UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) examination.
The examination consists of five papers: including English (1), hydrogeology (2) and geology (3). If you specialize in a particular area, you could work for organisations like ONGC, Coal India, etc.
Similar opening also exists in the Central Ground Water Board.
As a geologist, you could also gain employment with the Indian space and research organisation, lending your expertise in their remote sensing projects.
Geology offers ample scope for academic research. Center for Earth Studies National Institute of Hydrology, Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology and Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology recruit geologists for research as well as teaching positions.
Of course at this level you require a doctoral degree in geology. There are openings in the private sector as consultants. But these are few and far between.
A new field that you can branch into is Geological Software Development. This deals with computer programming to recreate the various geological processes on a computer.
As far as government jobs are concerned these have remained relatively stable. Major infrastructure projects that were envisaged with foreign investment have really not materialized.
Oil exploration is without doubt the biggest money-spinner. So far exploration of minerals and oil sector has been under government control with only limited international participation. If restrictions are lifted, it would be a goldmine for geologists in India.
With increasing concern for the environment, environmental geology is already growing in the west. However, remote sensing analysis and geological software development present the maximum scope of a job abroad and are amongst the highest paying.
But it can't beat the sense of satisfaction on locating an underground well in a village with no water supply.
Abilities & Traits Required
• Acute spatial and three dimensional form perceptions
• Ability to enjoy exploration and outdoor work
• Aptitude for accurate details
• Good data collection and comparison skills
• Physical stamina and manual dexterity
Additionally, you need to have good mathematical, analytical and observational skills. As a geologist you should be able to adapt to any working condition. One day you could be in a super specialized laboratory using the latest equipment and the next day you could be digging the dirt with a shovel.
Besides this you need to exhibit drive, initiative and leadership qualities while leading expeditions. Ability to work in a team is also essential as no geologist works in isolation.
Many universities in the country offer both graduate and post graduate courses in geology. At the master's level, you can specialise in Geophysics, Applied Geology, Mineralogy, Mineral Processing, Petroleum Engineering, Geotechnology, Natural Resources, Marine Geophysics, Marine Geology, etc.
The Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur offers a five-year integrated course in Exploration Geophysics after class 12. If you have already cleared your BTech /BE /MSc then you can do your MTech in Geology or Geophysics.
You can expect to make around Rs 25000 - 35000 as a Surveyor in any government organisation. Salaries in research positions also fall in the same range. Geologists, involved in exploration work get between Rs 20000-30000 a month.
If you are working for an MNC as consultant on an oil-rig you could make as much as $ 500-600. And that's for just an hour of work!
Remote Sensing Analysis is also a high paying job and you can make up to Rs 55000-60000 per project as a geologist.
Geological Software Developers get a starting salary of around Rs 25000 which can work its way up to as much as Rs 50000 a month.
Research opportunities are also pretty good. After your MSc, you can either get a job with a salary of about Rs 20000 per month or a research scholarship for Rs 18000-25000 per month.
After your PhD, you can get about Rs 40000-50000 per month. The salaries are in the same range in academic jobs.