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Sciences careers

Geological & Environmental Sciences

What are geological & environmental sciences?

Geological and environmental scientists are like two peas in a pod. These two different kinds of scientific professionals are both concerned with the science of the Earth, they both get stuck into their fair share of fieldwork, and they both use state-of-the-art equipment to collect complex data.

If you pursue a career in this area, you could take the academic route or you could take advantage of the wealth of applied science opportunities out there.

What do geological & environmental science careers involve?

Geological science careers are certainly not just about looking at rocks, pebbles and grains of sand on the beach or sketching the pretty sedimentary formations of the cliffs on a pad of paper. Indeed, geological scientists conduct vital research using incredibly high-tech equipment that helps us to understand and expand our knowledge of the Earth’s composition.

Geological research helps companies to discover, extract and produce the world’s supply of natural resources. Furthermore, the research of certain geological scientists can be used to anticipate and prevent the devastating effects of natural hazards, such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, landslides and sink holes.

Environmental science careers are not just about checking the Earth’s climate using a medical thermometer and watching how quickly an ice cube melts in the palm of your friend’s hand. No, no! Environmental scientists conduct detailed research into the effects of human activity on the environment, using the latest tools and technologies.

Environmental research helps companies and the government to reduce harmful emissions, change waste disposal policies, minimise pollution and cut down on anything that can be considered detrimental to the environment.

Essentially, the majority of geological and environmental science professionals act as research scientists and consultants to clients across a range of different industries.

Geologists have an impact on all kinds of industries, from mining, quarrying and hydrocarbon extraction (oil & gas), to civil engineering and construction. These guys are normally employed by oil firms, mining companies, government organisations, research agencies and academic institutions.

Environmental scientists influence the operations of so many different industry sectors, from construction, engineering and energy and utilities, to manufacturing, healthcare and transport and logistics. These people tend to be employed by environmental consultancy companies, academic departments, government agencies and research institutes.

What's it like working as a geological or environmental scientist?

If you get into this line of work, it’s highly unlikely that you will be working as a generalist; the majority of employees tend to specialise in a niche area. For instance, if you work in geological sciences, you might specialise as a seismologist and study earthquakes; you might become a petroleum geologist and survey oil and natural gas deposits; or, alternatively, you might get involved with marine geology and conduct surveys of the ocean floor.

If you work in environmental science, you might look to become a hydrologist and focus your efforts on studying bodies of water; you might be getting your hands dirty as a soil scientist; or you might be helping to save the planet, slowly but surely, by working as a conservation scientist.

Whatever line of work you move into, you will certainly get the opportunity to travel the world and you’re likely to work in some of the most remote, challenging and potentially dangerous environments on the planet.

As a geologist, your job responsibilities will vary depending on your area of specialism. However, it’s more than likely that you’ll be using state-of-the-art equipment to collect data out in the field, conducting geological surveys using Geographical Information Systems (GIS), carrying out lab experiments, processing the data and then presenting it to your clients and colleagues in the form of detailed reports, presentations and maps or charts.

Generally, environmental scientists conduct studies, experiments and surveys using high-tech equipment to collect vital data relating to air pollution, water pollution and soil contamination. They then analyse this data and test samples in laboratories, before distributing their findings in the form of written reports, presentations and one-to-one meetings.

With so many areas to specialise in, the geological and environmental sciences subsector is possibly one of the most varied and exciting subsectors you could get involved in – what on earth more could you want?!