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Careers Centre

Earth Sciences - using your degree

Introduction

Popular career areas for Earth Sciences students:

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 fall in the price of oil has caused a severe reduction in the numbers employed in the oil industry and most oil companies have now stopped providing funding for masters courses. Alongside there has been a downturn in opportunities in the mining sector.

Review your degree skills

The profile below identifies the skills that can be developed through your studies, it may help you to identify the valuable skills that you can offer to potential employers.

Where do our Earth Sciences graduates go?

Recent Earth Sciences graduates
Perigon Solutions Ltd - Geodata Analyst Mawson Resources - Junior Geologist Castillium - Site Finder
Lafarge Tarmac - Geological Intern Enzen - Graduate Trainee Chatteris Educational Foundation – Teacher
Graduates who are established in their profession

Kamoto Copper Company - Mining Geologist

Stallard Scientific Editing - Freelance, Cactus Communications

Fairbanks Environmental - Wetstock Data Analyst

Shell International Exploration and Production - Exploration Geologist

Schlumberger Stavanger Research Centre - Research Scientist

Maersk Oil - Geologist

Megan O'Donnell

Megan graduated in 2014.  She has worked as an Atmospheric Pollution Research Assistant at the Centre of Ecology and Hydrology.

Read Megan's case study.

John Banks

John graduated in 1997. He is a Senior Petrophysicist with Maersk Oil North Sea (UK) Ltd.

Read John's case study.

 Visit the Graduate Destinations page to see what graduates and postgraduates from your School are doing now.

Network with alumni

Many jobs and internships are not advertised.  One of the best ways to find out about these ‘hidden opportunities’ is by networking.  Networking can also help secure a job that is publicised or is part of a training scheme.  Your contacts can open doors, set up meetings, help prepare you for interviews, and provide you with an inside look at a company or industry. 

How to contact alumni

There are two main ways to contact alumni on-line:

  1. Saint Connect - brings together alumni and current students to facilitate networking, enable informal mentoring, provide industry discussion groups, and enable graduates and students to stay up to date with their student societies and sports teams.
  2. LinkedIn - most comprehensive resource to connect with alumni is the University of St Andrews LinkedIn – Alumni Tool. There are also many LinkedIn St Andrews Groups, mainly based on location, which you can join to network with fellow students and alumni, eg St Andrews North America Careers Link.

Postgraduate study/research

In 2014, 62% of Earth Science graduates went on to do further study, this increase in numbers going into further study coincides with the downturn in jobs in the oil and mining sectors.

A growing trend is for more Earth Scientists to go straight onto a PhD. As a St Andrews graduate you have an extra year of experience compared to your English contemporaries and in addition the amount of hours you spend in the laboratory and on field trips  is often greater making transition straight onto PhD a more viable option.

Popular postgraduate institutions and courses:

See also:

Summer internships/work experience

Campus Opportunities

Work experience is becoming ‘essential’ in the UK when it comes to securing graduate level employment.

During the 2015-16 academic year, more than 90% of the UK’s leading graduate employers offered paid work experience programmes for students and recent graduates. Altogether, 55% of St Andrews finalists had completed some element of work experience with a graduate employer whilst at university – much higher than the survey average. More than two-fifths had a part-time job during term-time and three-fifths had some form of casual vacation work. Source: High Fliers –The UK Graduate Careers Survey 2016.

Smaller companies do not advertise as these take interns from students who approach them individually and who express and interest and knowledge about the company. The Geologists Directory is a good source of contact details for speculative applications.

Research:

University of St Andrews research experience
Research experience may be available on University projects - contact Dr Ruth Robinson, Senior Lecturer in Earth Sciences (rajr@st-andrews.ac.uk) for more information.

Neftex, award for Masters student reseach
Neftex Earth Model Award aims to foster the link between industry and academia by rewarding excellence in Master’s level research relevant to natural resource exploration.

RISE (Research Internships in Science and Engineering)
RISE offers unique opportunities for Bachelor students to work with research groups at universities and top research institutions across Germany for a period of 2 to 3 months during the summer.

Oil & Gas:

BP Student Opportunities
BP offers insight days and summer internships for penultimate year students , they are offer 4 main areas – Business, Engineering, Science and Supply and Trading. Closing date is normally the end of January. Several St Andrews students have successfully applied in the past.

Chevron US
Chevron US offers internships to masters/PhD students, most are during the summer but they do host interns throughout the year. Chevron earth science internships offer the opportunity to work collaboratively with a team to discover new energy reserves. You'll focus on a specific producing field or exploration project, so the results of your work may have an immediate impact. Along the way, you'll have a chance to evaluate Chevron as a potential employer, while they learn more about your abilities.

CGG
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.

ERC Equipoise
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 in the past.

Halliburton Internship Programme
Halliburton offer internships in locations around the world in R&D, Geoscience, Engineering of Business Support.

Schlumberger
Internships in research, engineering, manufacturing, and sustaining centers or an office-based geosciences, petrotechnical or business support role. You will be expected to make a real contribution to  the company.

Shell Assessed Internships
An Assessed Internship is one way to get to know Shell from the inside and immerse yourself in the industry. It will also help you decide if your potential career is right for you. You’ll get full day-to-day involvement in actual projects, selected to match your interests and abilities. You’ll join a project team and work alongside Shell employees, all professionals in their fields. Their perspectives will contribute to your understanding of our business, its demands and rewards. Succeed in the Assessed Internship and you could be offered a place on the Shell Graduate Programme.

Wood Group
Wood Group recruits interns from all years and disciplines across a wide range of business areas.

Environmental/Survey/Hydrology:

Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
The CEH does not have an official summer internship scheme at the moment,  but f you are interested in ideas and supervision for a Masters Projects or summer work experience during your degree, please contact cehpersonnel@ceh.ac.uk detailing your area of study.

The British Geological Survey
BGS recruits earth and environmental students for voluntary work. Accommodation is free and a generous subsistence allowance is given.

Bright Green Placements
Offer a variety of paid placements in small Scottish companies. Past roles have included environmental and transport. Several past students have used these placements as springboard to a graduate role.

Environmental and Renewable Energy
Envirocruit.com Advertises internships and jobs.

Fulbright Commission

The Study of the U.S. Institute for European Student Leaders on Environmental Issues :
This funded US study programme allows you an insightful academic as well as cultural experience.

Natural Power
This company often offers summer placements in areas such as hydrology and ecology.

Mott MacDonald 
Global Engineering and Development Consultancy which offer summer internships.

Case studies

Key links and resources

Career related

Recruitment

Professional Bodies, Trade Organisations & Journals/Magazines

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