Earth Science Jobs and Careers
The Earth Sciences, sometimes called Geosciences, are a blend of the fields of geography, geology, oceanography, climatology and soil science. Many graduates work in the fields of mineral and resource mining, oil and gas, or in growing environmental sectors such as pollution prevention and site conservation. Increasingly, these scientists are involved with the environmental, social and economic impacts caused by use of natural resources
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Careers in Earth Science
An aquaculture farmer manages a series of manmade water systems to raise fish and shellfish for consumption, research or fishing. They are usually responsible for more than one farm or hatchery. They usually possess a BSc in fishery sciences.
An aquarist is the marine equivalent of a zookeeper, as they take care of marine life kept in aquariums. This also involves taking care of the aquarium, the water and food stocks to ensure optimal health for the animals. They may also be involved in collecting marine life from the wild. Their degree is usually in marine biology or zoology.
Cartographers are responsible for accurately measuring the earth's surface by analysing data and photographs from survey data collected by satellites and aircraft. Along with photogrammetrists, they are deeply involved in the development of geospatial information systems. Degrees are usually in subjects such as cartography, geography, surveying, engineering or forestry.
Climate Change Analyst
These analysts evaluate scientific research data about the climate. They use this information, which may be about atmospheric temperature, greenhouse gases, ocean conditions and state of the ice caps, to create predictive models about climate change and its effect on the world. This is a contentious area, with many scientists involved in either the scientific side or in advising policy makers. Degrees are usually in environmental science.
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Emergency Management Specialist
In times of major environmental disasters, such as oil spillage, or natural disasters, such as floods, earthquakes and fires, these specialist managers are responsible for co-ordinating the emergency response. This is a complex strategic role that involves researching, planning, communicating, training and budgeting, as well as actually implementing the responses. Environmental science is one of the degrees usually required for such roles.
Environmental Compliance Inspector
This role involves inspecting sources of pollution to protect the environment and the population, while ensuring that businesses and organisations follow legal regulations. This ranges from monitoring facilities to analysing reports and conducting audits, to enforcing anti-pollution measures. Prevention through communication of standards and codes is also part of the work. Degrees are usually biology, chemistry, engineering, environmental sciences or environmental law.
This role is concerned with protecting the environment by reducing and eliminating the hazards that threaten it. This also applies to the people that inhabit that environment. The environmental scientist is concerned with how materials or compounds degrade, how the environment can be conserved, the recycling of waste products, etc, and the design of facilities and procedures to minimise harmful effects. Degrees are usually in earth science or a master's degree in environmental science.
Geographers address problems relating to urban and regional planning, agriculture and business, achieving this through the study of the geography, economy, social conditions, climate and other factors of countries and regions. Work is frequently a combination of research and academic teaching. Sub-categories are economic geography, political geography, climatology, regional geography, medical geography and cartography. Typically, the degree required is geography.
Geoscientists study the physical aspects of Earth, including its geology. The application of their study is often the search for natural resources, including metals, natural sources of water and oil. They may also be involved in using this knowledge to protect the environment. Areas of geoscience are geology and geophysics, with numerous subdivisions. Geoscientists usually need at least a master's degree in geology or earth science.
Hydrologists are concerned with the natural presence of water on the earth's surface and above it. They may specialise in rain (precipitation), underground water or surface water. The movement of water on and through the earth and the effects it has is also a concern, as are changes in water cycles, flow rates and water quality. They may also assist in water conservation. Earth science degrees may be geophysics, soil science, geology, oceanography, hydrogeology and the management or conservation of water resources.
Meteorologists study the atmosphere, examining its changes and the way these affect conditions on the earth's surface and our environment. Most people know the role due to weather forecasting on TV and the radio. Meteorologists also aim to predict climate trends, analysing past weather and today's weather. Entry usually is via a degree in meteorology or atmospheric science.
Soil and Water Conservationist
Conservation scientists aim to preserve natural resources by working with farmers to use the land while controlling erosion. They assist and inform all stakeholders of the land, from farmers to ranchers to foresters and government agencies, about how to conserve soil, water and natural resources. Bachelor's degrees are usually ecology or environmental science amongst others.
These scientists are concerned with soil as it affects plant growth, particularly crops. They research fertilisers and land management practices such as crop rotation, classify and map soils, etc. They also work with other technical and scientific personnel whose work influences soil conditions, e.g. through construction projects. Required degrees are usually soil science or a similar environmental subject.
Surveyors are responsible for establishing land boundaries and preparing legal descriptions of the land. They are heavily involved in provision and preparation of data relating to the topography and dimensions of the land. There are many entry routes to surveying - degrees in the geosciences include surveying and forestry.
Type of Person
To secure qualifications and employment in earth sciences, it's important to have a love of scientific enquiry, an interest in the natural world and a sound education at school level, with qualifications in biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics and/or engineering. An aptitude for English will also be useful, as so many positions involve working with various agencies or with the public.
It's important to closely scrutinise the earth science degrees on offer from universities, as there is a huge variety available. Consider whether the focus is on geology, geoscience, environmental science or earth-systems science. Generally, BSc degrees are sufficient for entry level roles, but professional positions usually require a MSc, with PhDs preferred for research positions.
Job Sites for Earth Science Jobs
- European earth science jobs - www.eurosciencejobs.com/jobs/earth_science
- International site (American and English speaking countries) - www.earthworks-jobs.com
- Earth, Environment and Energy Jobs - jobs.newscientist.com/en-gb/jobs/