Geoscientists: Salary Overview
Geoscientists study and analyze the physical aspects of Earth to learn about its past, present, and future.
Their job responsibilities include planning and carrying out field studies, conducting laboratory tests, analyzing aerial photographs, preparing written scientific reports, making geologic maps and charts, and presenting data to clients.
In their work geoscientists use a variety of tools; for example, they may use hammers and chisels to collect rock samples on the field, x-rays, and microscopes in the laboratory and GIS and modeling software to collect and analyze data.
Some geoscientists also have to travel to different areas to make observations and meet with clients.
Geoscientist is a broad term that includes a variety of specializations, such as geochemists, geologist, geophysicist, oceanographer, seismologist, paleontologist, and more.
Their attributes vary depending on the specialty, for example, geochemists use chemistry to study the composition of elements found in groundwater, rocks, sediments, and other earth materials.
Geophysicists use physics to study the Earth’s surface and interior and its properties.
Paleontologists analyze fossils in order to trace the evolution of plant and animal life and the geologic history of the Earth.
Seismologists use seismographs and other instruments to study earthquakes and tsunamis.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for geoscientists, in general, was $92,040 in May 2019.
This means that half of all workers in this occupation earned less than this amount and half earned more.
Salaries for geoscientists vary widely depending on their level of experience, the field of employment, the specialty, and the level of education.
The lowest 10 percent made less than $51,000 a year, while the highest 10 percent made more than $187, 910 per year.
Geoscientist Salary by Industry
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, geoscientists held about 31,000 jobs in 2018, most of them working for companies that provide architectural, engineering, and related services, in the field of mining, quarrying, and oil extraction or for the federal government.
The report published by BLS shows that the median annual wage for geoscientists who worked in the field of mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction was $126,750 while those who worked for the federal government earned around $100,590 per year.
The median annual salary for geoscientists who work for companies that provide architectural, engineering, and related services was $82,190 while geoscientists who work for colleges, universities, and professional schools made around $76,580 per year.
State governments paid a median annual wage for geoscientists of $74,010.
Most geoscientists work full time but they may also work overtime to meet a project’s deadline.
Many geoscientists also receive health and dental insurance, paid vacation days, and other benefits.
The exact compensation package depends on the geoscientist’s level of experience, his or her role in the company, and the employer.
Some of them may also receive bonuses, commissions, and profit-sharing and these can supplement their annual earning with several thousands of dollars.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for geoscientists is projected to grow 6 percent from 2018 to 2028.
This growth is ignited, in part, by the increasing need for energy, environmental protection, and responsible land and resource management.
Geoscientists will also be involved in finding and developing alternative sources of energy and to evaluate if the land is suitable for geothermal energy pants.
However, in some industries, the demand for geoscientists is expected to increase only modestly while others may grow much faster.
Your job prospects as a new graduate will also depend on the region of employment and your specialty.
Choosing to specialize in alternative energy sources, such as wind and geothermal energy may give you better job prospects.
* Based on information from the May 2019 salary report from the BLS. The figures represent accumulated data for all states of employment for Geoscientists. BLS data represents averages and medians for workers at all levels of education and experience. This data doesn't represent starting salaries.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.