Earth Sciences - using your degree

From CareersWiki

Revision as of 10:43, 5 April 2012 by Cw (Talk | contribs)
Jump to: navigation, search




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.

Student/Alumni Profiles


Katherine completed an 11-week geoscience internship with BP in 2010 which allowed her to develop and improve many skills which are transferable across different industries. Read her profile.

More Earth Science profiles.

Where Our Graduates Go

YearOrganisation/CompanyPositionGeoscience Required?
2010 Wintershall AG (BASF Group) Petroleum Geologist case study Yes
2009 University of St Andrews Paleoclimate Science Yes
2009 University of Liverpool Sedimentary Geology and Sequence Stratigraphy Yes
2009 BP Graduate Geoscientist Yes
2009 Scotland Transerv Graduate Geologist Yes
2002 (CAN) Environment Agency Senior Planning Officer Yes
2001 (CAN) Hyder Consulting Ltd Senior Environmental Geologist Yes
1998 University of Edinburgh Facility Manager & Pilot, Airborne GeoSciences NERC Recognised Facility case study Yes
1998 (CAN) St Leonards School Durham Head of Geography Yes
1996 (CAN) Shell Exploration and Production Production Geologist Yes
1993 (CAN) Microsoft , Dublin Senior Manager Yes
1976 (CAN) Scottish Borders Council Town/County Planner Yes

Careers Alumni Network (CAN) indicates these alumni are willing and keen to be contacted to help St Andrews students with their careers search.

Where Our Postgraduates Go

Year of GraduationOrganisation/CompanyPositionEarth Sciences Required
2009 University of Copenhagen Postdoctoral researcher Yes

Popular Occupations for Earth Science Undergraduates

Stefan graduated in June 2010 and now works at Wintershall AG (BASF Group) as a Petroleum Geologist. Read his profile.

A 2010 HESA survey of 2009 graduates indicates that six months after graduation, just over 40% of geology graduates were in UK or overseas employment. Of these, around 20% found jobs in retail, catering, waiting and bar staff, more than 14% work in scientific research analysis and development. Around 10% were employed in the commercial, industrial and public sectors and 10% in other professional roles. A further 9% took up employment in clerical and secretarial positions.

Many geology graduates enter professions directly related to their degree. Popular roles include exploration and production, water supply, environmental engineering and geological surveying.


Postgraduate Study and Research

Over a 1/3 of Earth Science undergraduates continue go onto further study in a variety of courses; MSc Compute Science, MSC Petroleum Geoscience Earth Sciences, Applied Environmental Geology, MSc Hydrogeology, PhD in Geochemistry and Tectonics, PhD Carbonate Oil Reservoirs and MSc Environmental Science Renewable Energy.


Summer Internships & Work Experience

Spencer spent the summer of 2009 working for the USGS on earthquake probabilities in coastal California

It can be very valuable to gain experience of work in various areas, but particularly in those areas that you are considering as a future career.

Laura 2010 graduate

The table below aims to give some examples of the experiences of Geoscience students.

2011 IAESTE Research Assistant case study
2010 BP Geoscience intern case study
2008 ACA Howe International Work experience/ Assistant Geologist -case study
2007 Barclays Capital Summer Internship/Graduate Scheme - case study

Professional Bodies, Trade Organisations & Journals/Magazines

These can often be a good source of information on internships, jobs and postgraduate study.

Employability Profile

Over the course of your degree you develop a good mix of subject specific and transferable core skills (communication, team work, time management, presentation etc). Consider these alongside your other activities, such as paid work, volunteering, family responsibilities, sport, membership of societies, leadership roles, etc. Think about how these can be used as evidence of your skills and personal attributes. Then you can start to market and sell who you really are, identify what you may be lacking and consider how to improve your profile.


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.

This table is able to help you to identify the valuable skills that you can offer to potential employers.

A graduate in Earth Science:
Knowledge of all of Earth’s environments, and the physical explanations behind natural hazards/disasters (e.g. volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunami), location of resources (e.g. 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.

Earth Science/Employability Link


Each School has a Careers/Employability Link who "champions" employability. Yours is Dr Ruth Robinson. If you have any information you consider important for your fellow students please let her know. Alternatively you can complete a "profile" which enables you to share your experiences with other students.



Personal tools