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Oswego Career Ladders - Geologist

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Industry: Energy
Area: Geothermal

Geothermal energy production involves tapping the heat present in subsurface rock and soil units. t can be a simple as withdrawing warm ground water and using it as a source of heat or it can involve tapping hot subsurface waters to generate electricity. t is considered by many to be a "green" energy source that has minimal impact upon the natural environment. Geologists explore volcanic regions to find the most likely areas for further study, examining geologic landforms and fault structures. Geologic maps are then created, showing rock type and ages. Data from electrical, magnetic, chemical and seismic surveys is gathered in the field, displayed in various ways and analyzed.

Work Settings

Geologists divide their time between fieldwork, the office and laboratory work.


A bachelor's degree is adequate for a few entry-level positions, but most geologists need at least a master's degree in general geology or earth science.

Job Outlook

Due to the relatively low number of qualified science graduates and the large number of expected retirements, opportunities are expected to be good in most areas of geoscience. Demand will be spurred by a continuing emphasis on the need for energy, environmental protection, responsible land management, and water-related issues.


Median annual earnings of geoscientists were $68,730 in May 2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $49,260 and $98,380; the lowest 10 percent earned less than $37,700, the highest 10 percent more than $130,750.

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