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Careers: Geology/Earth Science or Geophysics


Dear Mr. Ketton,

I would like to enquire your advice on deciding my university major.
I am very interested in studying Earth's natural processes/phenomena; all processes involving earth's interior, climate, ocean, volcanoes, etc.
So I am considering Earth Science (Geology) and Geophyscis as my Bachelor's degree.
With my study, I also would like to learn about natural hazards and natural resources, so I can benefit people. Investigating environmental problems the earth faces like 'global warming' to prevent further damage on Earth and protecting both nature and people is my desire as well.

To go into this path, which major can be a better help for me? Geophysics? Or Earth Science?
Will it be the best if I do double major in Geophysics and Earth Science? Or is it not necessary?

I would appreciate your advice a lot.
Thank you for your time and effort.




In your description, you mention quite a few areas, that are not entirely consistent with one major.  In earning a BS degree in geology, you learn the basics of the science.  I like to equate what you learn as the tools you put in your tool box.  I went to law school and the principles of law that you learn are your tools, and you apply those principles to the facts that are presented to you in each case you work on.

The situation is similar in geological sciences.  With a BS you learn the basics.  With a MS you learn how to apply those tools to problem solving.  With a PhD you just specialize more in one area.  The MS degree teaches you problem solvinig skills along with more indepth study in a more narrow field.

The old saying is that with each degree you earn, you learn more, and more, about less and less.  This is true, since after learning the basics, you focus on learning more about one subject area becoming more specialized.

So, you could start working on a BS in geology, and take electives in geophysics.

A good traditional geology degree will prepare you for just about any further course of study.  Do not fall for the lie that some universities tell you by steering you to a "designer" degree program. They have sexy sounding names right out of the headlines on TV but are essentially worthless.  

The essential fact to remember is that to use your degree...someone has to want to pay you for what you know to solve problems for you.  So if there is no one who is willing to pay for the knowledge you have, you can't find a job.  

There are three types of geological professionals.  The academics, they teach in universities and indulge themselves in studying the things they want to study.  The university pays them to do this, and so does the government by subsidizing them with grants.  These studies might not benefit anyone or anything.  Beware getting sucked into this kind of work in graduate school it is a dead end, unless you too, want to teach.

The second group are those that studied in an area that they researched before going to the university and KNEW that there were jobs available for people with those skills.  They are called Employed Geoscientists.  They get jobs and have careers.

The third group are those that went to the University, signed up for classes the professors told them to take, earned a degree and found out later that the classes they took and the knowledge they learned has no buyer.  No one wants to pay for their services.  They were fooled by the schools into paying the professors salaries to learn things that no one finds of any value and will not hire them.  These are the Unemployed Geoscientists.

Environmental Geologists, GIS Specialists, Vertebrate Paleontologists and other are in this group.  Find out if their is a market for the degree or the subject matter you plan on studying.  

Petroleum Geology is currently a great area to have a degree in.  Starting salaries are about $80,000 a year for a graduate.

Enviromental and the study of the hoax of man made global warming are areas you want to avoid.

Environmental work is not to be mistaken for environmentalism.  They are different.  

One of the things you will find out in college is to think critically and analyse data.  I have never believed in man-made global warming.  Why?  Because I know from my studies that the earth has always gone through cold and warm cycles, and this is just one of them.  In fact, the unbaised and unmanipulated date show we are in a cooling trend.  The last few decades are but a warm trend in the overall cooling down.

The man-made global warming you hear so much about is a hoax and it is really a political movement.  It is an attempt by some scientists, not earth scientists, but climatologists to push a political agenda.  They want to move money from the developed nations to the 3rd world in a form of emotional blackmail.  The UN is complicit in this.  The members of the Inter National Committee on Climate Change are politicians not scientists.  Data regarding climate change is faulty, and falsified.  Opposing arguments and research have been supressed by those political scientists that are wanting to push their agenda.

You will learn how to see all this for yourself in school, unless you study under professors who have a conflict of interest:  they are getting money from the govenment to study the so-called problem.  They will then have an interest in continuing to support the myth because they are earning a living doing so.

Back on point.  Geophysics is geared more toward math and physics.  Solid earth geophysics is the study of the mantle, crust and interior of the earth using geophysics.  Seismology is the study of earthquakes. Exploration geophysics is using geophysics in the form of seismic to explore for oil.  The first two are the realm of the academics.  No companies exist to hire people who want to study the interior of the earth or earthquakes.  Only the universities and government agencies do that.  And you will need a PhD to do it.  Petroleum on the other hand you can get by with a MS degree and they get paid even more that geologists.

Doing enviromental work you will be a consultant, working for companies like a hired gun.  You will come in and solve problems, file reports, do cleanups of spills etc.  The pay is not very good, about 1/2 to  2/3 that of the geologist in the petroleum industry.

Do some looking on the internet on the subject of "sustainability".  That sounds more like what you want to do, in the interest of helping people and the planet.  The study of geology may help in some regards, but there might be more specific areas of study that will benefit you if this is the direction you really want to go.

Careers: Geology

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Keith Patton


Career and educational options open for fledgling geoscience students. What courses you should take to prepare for the current job market.


24 years experience in Petroleum, Environmental Consulting and geological and geophysical computer software development.


Registered Geologist in Texas
Certified mapping scientitst in RS

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