Explore the world. Make a living. Make a difference.

Jaime Barnes and Rania Eldam

Rania Eldam (B.S. '13) conducts geochemistry research aimed at understanding the geologic history of a subduction zone with assistant professor Jaime Barnes (left)

Geologists work in the field, the lab, and with computers to seek a greater understanding of Earth. Geoscientists help protect the planet by studying it, learning from it, and predicting what the future will bring. They perform environmental assessments and study global environmental systems. They locate water, mineral, and energy resources. They predict geological disasters. And they offer advice on major development projects. As a geoscientist, you can make a huge impact on the world around you.

Where do geologists work? Geologists find career opportunities in many different fields, including:

  • Climate and global process modeling
  • Environmental remediation and engineering
  • Petroleum and mining exploration and extraction
  • Energy Policy
  • Natural hazards assessment
  • Land use planning
  • Ocean sciences
  • Planetary sciences
  • Paleontology
  • Education (K-12 and university)

Equally diverse are the employers. Successful geology graduates from The University of Texas at Austin work for nonprofit organizations, multinational companies, government agencies, high schools, research institutes, and universities.

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Do You Have What it Takes?

Are you thinking about being a geologist, or trying to figure out what a geologist does? Dr. Leon E. Long, a member of the Academy of Distinguished Teachers at The University of Texas at Austin, co-taught for many years the Jackson School’s main undergraduate introductory course, Geology 303: Introduction to Geology, and served for many years as the undergraduate faculty advisor for the Department of Geological Sciences. As a student adviser, he talked with many students who are curious to know more about the subject. His enthusiasm for helping students is evident and his love of geology tremendous and heartfelt. 

Dr. Long often asked students these questions:

  1. Can you handle this difficult technical subject?
  2. Do you mind working on a scientific problem for which only fragmentary evidence is available?
  3. Do you think you would enjoy doing what a geologist does for years and years?

Having advised, mentored, and taught thousands of students, we asked for some of his observations on being a scientist, a geology student, and a geologist.

On Being a Scientist:
Dr. Long will tell you that there are two kinds of science, and two kinds of scientists: analytical and synthetic. Acting analytically, a scientist isolates a small piece of nature and does experiments on it, repeating them over and over in “real time.” Geologists are predominantly synthetic, acting more like detectives, assembling pieces of evidence from everywhere — a contrasting style of approach. Geologists combine their knowledge of geology with calculus, physics, chemistry, and biology to “synthesize the whole system.”

On Being a Geology Student:
Having the right personality match is just as important to being a geologist as handling the required technical subjects. Geology students “are very idealistic.” They “enjoy helping each other and sharing in great camaraderie.” They are “discovering themselves.”

On Being a Geologist:
“As a geologist you can do just about anything with your career in combinations pleasing to you, such as working outdoors or indoors, with computers, writing, doing lab work, field work, detailed or large-scale research.”

“Geologists and geology students alike enjoy an incredible variety of experiences combined with great adventure…and risk. They are nuts about travel, seeing as much of this earth as they can!”

 

Dr. Leon Long

Dr. Leon E. Long