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Oswego Career Ladders - Geochemist

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Industry: Energy
Area: Geothermal

Geothermal energy production involves tapping the heat present in subsurface rock and soil units. Due to the high concentrations of chemicals in the water found in geothermal wells, reservoirs and springs, care has to be taken in the design of the energy transfer systems in order to prevent problems due to corrosion and scaling. Geochemists conduct tests of water to analyze its chemical composition and then determine its suitability for various uses of the heat source i.e. residential heating systems, greenhouses, fish farms etc.

Work Settings

Most work in this field is done in the field, testing the water in geothermal springs and wells.


Relevant degree subjects include physical/mathematical/applied science and engineering. People come to geochemistry from a range of undergraduate studies, including math, physics, and oceanography as well as chemistry and geology. Training outside geochemistry is increasingly beneficial because the field has become more interdisciplinary.

Job Outlook

The job market for geoscientists is highly competitive. Although employment growth will vary by occupational specialty, overall employment is expected to grow more slowly than average for all occupations through 2014. However, 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. Job growth is expected within management, scientific, and technical consulting services. Demand will be spurred by a continuing emphasis on the need for energy, environmental protection, responsible land management, and water-related issues.


Median starting salaries, as of last October, for chemists who graduated during the 2003­04 academic year were $32,500 for bachelor's, $43,600 for master's, and $65,000 for Ph.D.s.

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