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Earth Sciences careers

There are a wide range of careers open to Earth Scientists, and a shortage of well-qualified applicants. As a Cambridge graduate you would be highly sought after, because you have a better basic science and maths training than geologists from most universities, and because the Cambridge Earth Sciences Department is known to be one of the best in the world.

There is a misconception that almost all careers in Earth Sciences are in the petroleum industry. In fact, less than half of geologists work in this field. The full range of job areas includes:

  • Petroleum exploration & production: finding and developing new oil & gas fields.
  • Carbon Capture and Storage: finding, developing, and monitoring suitable sites.
  • Energy and mineral extraction: exploring for coal, metallic and industrial minerals.
  • Hydrogeology: finding and maintaining subsurface water supply.
  • Geotechnics: detailing rock & soil strength for engineering projects.
  • Environmental geology & geochemistry: natural and industrial risk assessment, nuclear waste disposal.
  • School teaching: teaching science in schools.
  • University research & teaching: degree-level teaching and research.
  • Museums and libraries: managing collections of geological material.
  • Publishing: commissioning and editing geological books and journals.
  • Science in society: science research and policy in public sector institutes.
  • Finance and consulting: assessing natural resource investment for banks etc.

Earth Scientists are very well qualified for careers outside geology. Earth Sciences graduates have particularly good problem-solving abilities and a wide range of transferable skills. These qualities are valued by most employers. Earth Scientists are therefore highly competitive in the job market, even where specific geological skills are not required.

Salaries for Earth Scientists vary widely between professions. The salaries for UK jobs advertised for ‘geologist’ average £45,000. The petroleum and mining industries pay higher-than-average salaries, with US pay being the benchmark: starting salaries of £60,000 and pay after 10 years of £90,000. Salaries in the finance sector are even higher than in the petroleum sector.

The Sedgwick Club hold career-oriented talks to which you will be very welcome.

There will be a careers evening on Tuesday 21 November, 5.00-7.00pm in the common room, with the first half hour for first years only. Please come along.

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