Careers: Geology/Tectonic Reconstruction
Dear Mr Patton
I have a question regarding a career in geology. My name is Jasim and I am currently an MSc student in Applied Geosciences. Prior to this I earned a BEng in Civil Engineering . I decided to try studying geology after taking some geology related classes during my bachelorís and finding geology as something I want to learn more about.
As I am supposed to complete the MSc program, by July 2013, I know I want to continue learning more about geology and so I believe that one of the possible next steps is to do a higher research degree.
So, I narrowed down the research areas that I think I am interested in (and what I think I can capitalize on my BEng experience) and came up with 'Tectonic reconstruction' as a potential research project. This project is a programming based one.
I believe I will learn a lot from this project, but I am not sure about what are the career prospects (other than academic) of this project. I mean, what can I work as after that? from some sources, I read that I can be involved in software development in oil companies, but still a bit unclear about that, can you let me know what you think?
You have hit the nail on the head. First, to proceed in this area, you would need to earn a PhD. I had a friend back in the 80's when I worked in the research department of Phillips Petroleum. Her specialty area was in Tectonics. It is a very small specialty niche. They finally did away with her job and she moved on to the US geologic survey. Sadly, a lot of interesting areas cannot support many paying jobs because those areas do not earn any money. What I mean, is there are not many companies that make money off of dinosaurs, or off of how the continents were arranged 500 million years ago. Sure the study of that may help a company find oil, but one company might only need one specialist in that area. Only universities and goverment pay people do study non-money earning areas of science. Most geoscientists work for oil companies because they can find oil and help the company make a profit. So tectonics work is usually done at Universities and government agencies, where it can provide information on areas prone to earthquakes, or neat stuff for dinosaur exhibits in museums. In many cases advancement is slow, as government and university jobs are held for life, and someone has to die or retire for a vacancy to open up.