Earth Sciences - using your degree
A degree from Scotland's first university is an excellent start to any future career. St Andrews has a reputation for excellence and the ability to attract the brightest students world wide. With this as a starting point you are well on the way to impressing future employers.
Earth Science is a subject that integrates all the pure science subjects. This contributes to producing geology graduates with a broad range of skills who are suited to a wide range of careers. Specifically, and uniquely, undergraduate geological training develops students’ ability to integrate very different methods and datasets to solve problems and to deal with the very common occurrence of missing data. Geology and Environmental Geoscience graduates have the ability to adapt quickly to different problem solving situations and are particularly skilled in resolving complex 3D and 4D (time) problems.
There are obviously a wide range of Earth Science career opportunities within the hydrocarbon, mining, and civil engineering industries as well as geological surveys, specialist geological and environmental consultants, and government agencies such as Scottish Natural Heritage and English Heritage, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency and Environmental Agency. Other career options are teaching, working in the natural resource finance and IT sectors, and any career related to working outdoors, such as orienteering and outdoor sports instructor.
In the hydrocarbon, mining and quarrying industries geologists work in exploration, surveying and surface mapping in geologically promising areas of the world, looking for new prospects and working out the size of the reserves. An entry mining or oil and gas geologist will often log and analyse material from drilled cores of rock in order to evaluate how to best recover the resources. Environmental or engineering consultancies typically want entry geologists to work on site surveys of soil, water and the near-surface rocks before building development begins. All industries are susceptible to economic fluctuations and employment opportunities can be variable. At the present time, the price of energy, metals, and the technological and societal need for rare elements has increased the jobs available in the natural resource sector.
Where do our graduates go?
Thomas is a geoscience graduate of the University of St Andrews. He is a Facility Manager & Pilot, at the Airborne GeoSciences NERC Recognised Facility, University of Edinburgh.
Read his and other geoscience graduates case studies to hear what their jobs involve, how they got there, and how to successfully follow the same career path.
|Year of graduation||Organisation/Company||Position|
|These are some of the first roles taken on by students six months after graduation:|
|2010||Wintershall AG (BASF Group)||Petroleum Geologist|
|2009||University of St Andrews||Paleoclimate Science|
|2009||University of Liverpool||Sedimentary Geology and Sequence Stratigraphy|
|2009||Scotland Transerv||Graduate Geologist|
|Longer term career paths:|
|2002||Environment Agency||Senior Planning Officer|
|2001||Hyder Consulting Ltd||Senior Environmental Geologist|
|1998||University of Edinburgh||Facility Manager & Pilot, Airborne GeoSciences NERC Recognised Facility|
|1998||St Leonards School Durham||Head of Geography|
|1996||Shell Exploration and Production||Production Geologist|
|1993||Microsoft, Dublin||Senior Manager|
|1976||Scottish Borders Council||Town/County Planner|
Network with alumni
- LinkedIn this professional networking site can be a great way to make contact with St Andrews alumni. By joining the St Andrews alumni groups, University of St Andrews Alumni and University of St Andrews - Mentorship Programme, you are able to make contact directly with alumni with a LinkedIn profile.
- Careers Alumni Network- a database of St Andrews graduates who have volunteered to offer careers information to existing students.
In 2010, 57% of earth science graduates went on to do postgraduate study.
Advisers are able and willing to discuss postgraduate applications - vocational and academic.
Summer internships/work experience
One of the key aspects that often helps graduate recruiters to differentiate between candidates during the selection process is work experience. Students and graduates who have had internships or vacation placements usually have a much better understanding of the roles they are applying for and the industry or business sector they want to join after graduation. High Fliers - The UK Graduate Careers Survey 2012.
University of St Andrews research experience
Research experience may be available on University projects - contact Ruth Robinson (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
BP Geoscience Internship Program
Summer placements for penultimate students – closing date end of January. Several St Andrews students have successfully applied in the past. Website.
Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
The CEH does not have an official summer internship scheme at the moment, but students may send a speculative CV and covering letter to CEHPhdStudentEnq@ceh.ac.uk, if they would like to enquire about possibilities.
Offer 8 week internships to penultimate year students. Website.
Neftex, sequence stratigraphic consultant
Sometimes have summer internships. If you are interested, send a CV and covering letter to email@example.com. Website.
This integrated Geoscience company provides geological, geophysical and reservoir capabilities to a broad base of customers primarily from the global oil and gas industry. Offers summer placements to enthusiastic individuals looking to gain valuable industry experience and develop their understanding of the role of a Graduate Geophysicist. Website.
ERC Equipoise is an independent Reservoir Evaluation company, specialising in all areas of upstream analysis. It offers a variety of services from independent reserve audits, to expert witness testimonials, to technical reservoir consulting including geophysical and geological modeling and reservoir simulation. They have offered paid summer internships for the past five years. Website.
Opportunities for placements depend on current business needs. Send CV and covering letter to their recruitment consultant: The Urquhart Partnership, 8 North Silver Street, Aberdeen, AB10 1RL. TOTAL website.
Office based internships which expose you to an operational environment. They take students with two years of study. Website.
The British Geological Survey (BGS)
Recruit earth and environmental students for voluntary work. Accommodation is free and a generous subsistence allowance is given. Website.
This company often offers summer placements in areas such as hydrology and ecology. Website.
Bright Green Placements
Offer a variety of paid placements in small Scottish companies. Past roles have included environmental and transport. Several past geography students have used these placements as springboard to a graduate role. Website.
Offer summer placements in all areas of the business. The RWE npower Energy Challenge is a team competition (winning team goes dog sledging in the Arctic) which provides another route into placements and graduate programmes – St Andrews teams have won this twice.
Environmental and Renewable Energy
Envirocruit.com Advertises internships and jobs.
Global Engineering and Development Consultancy which offer environmental science summer internships. Website.
A global corporate social responsibility consultancy which runs three internship programmes throughout the year. Website.
Summer Institute: Environmental Stewardship This funded US study programme allows you an insightful academic as well as cultural experience. Read the case study of a St Andrews student who successfully applied to the programme.
Offer summer placements in various functions – Project Management, Supply Chain Planning & Control, Purchasing. Website.
The Geologists Directory
Is a good source of contact details for speculative applications. Website.
Work experience examples of earth science students
|Year of graduation||Organisation/Company||Position|
|2008||ACA Howe International||Work experience/ Assistant Geologist|
|2007||Barclays Capital||Summer Internship/Graduate Scheme|
- Read a number of case studies written by earth science students, on our work experience case studies database.
- If you have undertaken any type of work experience, then why not inspire students by sharing your story.
Employability profile: what you can offer employers
The profile below identifies the skills that can be developed through the study of your discipline based on subject benchmark statements developed by UK higher education academic communities. It may help you to identify the valuable skills that you can offer to potential employers.
- Knowledge of all of Earth’s environments, and the physical explanations behind natural hazards/disasters (eg volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunami), location of resources (eg water, minerals, fuels), and the issues regarding the exploitation and conservation of these natural resources and waste disposal; this knowledge leads to an understanding of the natural environment at small, medium and large spatial scales, irrespective of political boundaries.
- Ability to think in an integrated and holistic way, with complicated datasets with multiple variables, and to work with and appreciate complexity and change.
- Capability to think flexibly between different spatial representations (2D – 3D; maps to cross sections) and time-scales (milliseconds to millions of years).
- By routinely working in teams on laboratory, desk and research, Earth Scientists are versed in project management including planning, execution and evaluation; this involves skills such as time-management, risk-assessment, problem solving and analysis.
- Earth Scientists generate and work with numerical, textual and graphical data. They therefore have well-developed numeracy, graphical and image processing skills (including mapping) and they are accustomed to manipulating and presenting these various data using a range of ICT formats.
- The field-based 'real-world' nature of Earth Science research requires earth scientists to be flexible and adaptable – they must have the confidence and initiative to be able to deal with the unexpected.
- Decision making – often on the basis of limited information.
- Dangerfield International Executive Search - worldwide recruiter for the mining industryIn 2012 looking for over 200 graduates to work in Australia in exploration and resource roles, contact Chelsea Dunsmore (Senior Consultant, firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Oil & Gas recruitment agency
- Jobs in the Oil Industry
- Earthworks - Jobs and PhD/research opportunities world wide in many different areas
- earth students - a resource for geoscience, geotechnical, environmental and geographical students to look for relevant courses, internship and graduate vacancies.
- Research Gate research jobs
Professional Bodies, Trade Organisations & Journals/Magazines
These can often be a good source of information on internships, jobs and postgraduate study.