Employment of geoscientists is projected to grow 10 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. The need for energy, environmental protection, and responsible land and resource management is projected to spur demand for geoscientists.
Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing are examples of new technologies that are expected to increase demand for geoscientists. These technologies allow for the extraction of previously inaccessible oil and gas resources, and geoscientists will be needed to study the effects such technologies have on the surrounding areas. As oil prices increase in the future, even more technologies will likely be introduced that expand the ability to reach untapped oil reserves or introduce alternative ways to provide energy for the expanding population.
Geoscientists will be needed to help plan the construction of wind farms, geothermal power plants, and solar power plants. Alternative energies, such as wind energy, geothermal energy, and solar energy, can use large areas of land and affect wildlife and other natural processes. In addition, only certain areas are suitable for harvesting these energies. For example, geothermal energy plants must be located near sufficient hot ground water, and one task for geoscientists would be studying maps and charts to decide if the site is suitable.
An expanding population and the corresponding increased use of space and resources may create a continued need for geoscientists.
Job opportunities should be excellent for geoscientists, particularly those with a master's degree. In addition to job growth, a number of job openings are expected as geoscientists leave the workforce through retirement and for other reasons.
Geoscientists with a doctoral degree will likely face competition for positions in academia and research.
Computer knowledge is essential for geoscientists. Students who have experience with computer modeling, data analysis, and digital mapping will be the most prepared to enter the job market.
Fewer opportunities are expected in state and federal governments than in the past. Budget constraints are likely to limit hiring by state governments and federal agencies, such as the U.S. Geological Survey. In addition, more of the work traditionally done by government agencies is expected to be contracted out to consulting firms in the future. Most opportunities for geoscientists are expected to be related to resource extraction—in particular, gas and oil exploration and extraction operations.
Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24
Geoscientists, except hydrologists and geographers
Total, all occupations
Note: All Occupations includes all occupations in the U.S. Economy. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program