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Geological & Earth Sciences Major

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Geological & Earth Sciences

6,958 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
1,825 Master's Degrees Annually
#64 in Popularity
$101,890 Median Salary

Types of Degrees Geological & Earth Sciences Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many geological and earth sciences graduations there were in 2017-2018 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Bachelor’s Degree 6,958
Master’s Degree 1,825
Doctor’s Degree 761
Associate’s Degree 129
Graduate Certificate 114
Basic Certificate 21
Undergraduate Certificate 8

What Geological & Earth Sciences Majors Need to Know

People with careers related to geology were asked what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important for their jobs. They weighted these areas on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the highest.

Knowledge Areas for Geology Majors

This major prepares you for careers in which these knowledge areas are important:

  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Chemistry - Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
  • Physics - Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.

Skills for Geology Majors

When studying geology, you’ll learn many skills that will help you be successful in a wide range of jobs - even those that do not require a degree in the field. The following is a list of some of the most common skills needed for careers associated with this major:

  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

Abilities for Geology Majors

Geology majors often go into careers where the following abilities are vital:

  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.

What Can You Do With a Geological & Earth Sciences Major?

People with a geology degree often go into the following careers:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Atmospheric, Earth, Marine, and Space Sciences Professors 9.9% $90,860
Chemistry Professors 9.9% $79,550
Geoscientists, Except Hydrologists and Geographers 14.1% $91,130
Hydrologists 10.4% $79,370
Natural Sciences Managers 9.9% $123,860
Water Resource Specialists 9.9% $123,860

Who Is Getting a Bachelor’s Degree in Geological & Earth Sciences?

6,958 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
39% Percent Women
21% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities
This is a less frequently chosen undergraduate major. Only 6,958 students graduated with a bachelor’s degree in geological and earth sciences in 2018, making it rank #64 in popularity. This major attracts more men than women. About 61% of the graduates in this field are male.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of geology majors is as follows:

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of Geology Students with Bachelor's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 246
Black or African American 178
Hispanic or Latino 696
White 4,997
International Students 314
Other Races/Ethnicities 527

Geographic Diversity

Students from other countries are interested in Geology, too. About 4.5% of those with this major are international students. The most popular countries for students from outside the country are:

  • China
  • Saudi Arabia
  • India
  • Nigeria
  • Canada

How Much Do Geological & Earth Sciences Majors Make?

Bachelor’s Degree Starting Salary

The U.S. Department of Education found that students who graduated in 2015-2017 with a bachelor’s degree in geological and earth sciences made a median starting salary of $32,750 per year. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $30,225 (25th percentile) and $36,175 (75th percentile).


Note that some of these people may have jobs that are not directly related to a geology degree.

Salaries According to BLS

Average salaries range from $92,360 to $107,800 (25th to 75th percentile) for careers related to geology. This range includes all degree levels, so the salary for a person with just a bachelor’s degree may be a little less and the one for a person with an advanced degree may be a little more.

To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for a Geological & Earth Sciences Major  ( 92360 to 107800 )
Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )

Some careers associated with geology require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. In general, the more advanced your degree the more career options will open up to you. However, there is significant time and money that needs to be invested into your education so weigh the pros and cons.

How much schooling do you really need to compete in today’s job market? People currently working in careers related to geology have obtained the following education levels.

Education Level Percentage of Workers
Some College Courses 0.1%
Bachelor’s Degree 28.4%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master. 5.2%
Master’s Degree 37.1%
Post-Master’s Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Master’s degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral level. 1.3%
Doctoral Degree 17.0%
Post-Doctoral Training 11.9%

Online Geological & Earth Sciences Programs

In the 2017-2018 academic year, 568 schools offered some type of geological and earth sciences program. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 13 0
Certificate (1-2 years) 6 1
Certificate (2-4 Years) 0 0
Associate’s Degree 107 1
Bachelor’s Degree 29 4
Post-Baccalaureate 13 0
Master’s Degree 293 7
Post-Master’s 8 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 195 2
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 0 0
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 0 0

Is a Degree in Geological & Earth Sciences Worth It?

The median salary for a geology grad is $101,890 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 155% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $1,239,800 after 20 years!


You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to geology.

Major Number of Grads
Chemistry 22,389
Physics 13,815
General Physical Sciences 4,387
Atmospheric Sciences & Meteorology 1,188
Astronomy & Astrophysics 1,062
Materials Sciences 598
Other Physical Science 513


More about our data sources and methodologies.

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