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Career Information

The following occupations represent some career opportunities available to earth science majors (some will require additional education):

  • Air quality specialist/engineer
  • Astronomer
  • Atmospheric scientist
  • Climatologist
  • Ecologist
  • Energy policy program manager
  • Engineering geologist
  • Environmental program manager
  • Environmental quality specialist
  • Environmental geologist
  • Geochemist
  • Geological engineer
  • Geologist
  • Geophysicist
  • Hydrologist
  • Industrial waste inspector
  • Lobbyist
  • Meteorologist
  • Micropaleontologist
  • Mine safety inspector
  • Mining consultant
  • Oceanographer
  • Petroleum geologist
  • Planetary geologist
  • Programmer—geographic information systems (GIS) specialist
  • Science/environmental regulatory policy expert
  • Science and technical writer/editor
  • Science museum educator
  • Science museum exhibits coordinator
  • Soil scientist
  • State climatologist
  • State geologist
  • Teacher—geology, meteorology, astronomy, oceanography and earth science
  • Urban/regional planner
  • Waste management engineer
  • Water pollution control technician


The National Science Foundation considers geology, geophysics, hydrology, oceanography, marine science, atmospheric science, planetary science, meteorology, environmental science and soil science as the major geoscience disciplines.

The American Geological Institute ( lists what geoscientists do in these disciplines and a variety of subdisciplines.

  • Geologists study the materials, processes, products, physical nature and history of the Earth.

    Subdisciplines include economic geologists, engineering geologists, environmental geologists, geochemists, geomorphologists, mineralogists, petroleum geologists, paleontologists, petrologists, planetary geologists, sedimentologists, soil scientists, stratigraphers, structural geologists and volcanologists.

  • Geophysicists apply the principles of physics to studies of the Earth's interior and investigate Earth's magnetic, electric, and gravitational fields.

    Subdisciplines include exploration geophysicists and seismologists.

  • Hydrologists are concerned with water from the moment of precipitation until it evaporates into the atmosphere or is discharged into the ocean; for example, they study river systems to predict the impacts of flooding.

    Water related disciplines include: Marine geologists and Oceanographers.

  • Meteorologists are individuals with specialized education who use scientific principles to explain, understand, observe or forecast the earth's atmospheric phenomena and/or how the atmosphere affects the earth and life on the planet.

Subdisciplines include air pollution meteorology, atmospheric chemistry, global climate modeling, hydrometeorology, numerical weather prediction, solar weather, weather analysis and forecasting. These activities often require additional specialized education in related subjects.

For more information on careers in the atmospheric sciences, visit the American Meteorological Society Web site.

Professional Perspective

Matthew Ringel, Space Weather Forecaster

"A few months ago I was forecasting space weather in Boulder, Colorado. What I liked most about being a space weather forecaster was being a part of an emerging discipline. Space weather is still so young that there aren't very many people doing it, so I was able to define both my role within it and help define the direction space weather as a service is going."