Geologists conduct programs of exploration and research to extend knowledge of the structure, composition and processes of the earth, to locate and identify hydrocarbon, mineral and groundwater resources, to plan and implement programs of hydrocarbon and mineral extraction and to assess and mitigate the effects of development and waste disposal projects on the environment.
Sources of employment
The primary sources of employment will be employment increase and positions freed up by geologist retirements. In addition, training and experience in this occupation enable geologists to obtain promotions to supervisory and managerial positions.
Geologists are employed by:
• consulting firms
• resource, exploration, engineering and environmental companies
• government departments and agencies
• science centres and museums
• university and academic institutions
A B.Sc. degree is required for entry level positions. Post-graduate degrees are typically required for positions of greater responsibility such as research and post-secondary teaching positions.
In general, geologists:
• collect and interpret rock samples and cores
• classify fossilized life forms, rocks and minerals
• collect and analyze soil and sediment samples in geochemical surveys
• study the effects of erosion, sedimentation and tectonic deformation
• record and interpret geological information from maps, reports, boreholes, well logs, sample repositories, air photos, satellite imagery, geochemical surveys and other sources
• conduct geological surveys, subsurface and field studies
• participate in the study and mitigation of natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and mud slides
• prepare geological maps, cross-sectional diagrams and reports from field work and laboratory research
• supervise the work of technologists and technicians
During the various stages of their work, geologists use a wide variety of instruments such as hammers, diamond drills, geopositioning devices, gravity meters, microscopes, spectroscopes and x-ray diffraction equipment. They work with computers, both in the field and in the office. They also need to be familiar with the fundamentals of science (chemistry, physics, biology, mathematics) and business (accounting, economics).
Examples of occupational titles
• development geologist
• environmental geologist
• exploration geologist
• groundwater geologist
• mine geologist
• petroleum geologist
The outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:
• trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the petroleum industry and mining sector)
• location in Alberta
• employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
• occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
Over 6,700 Albertans are actively employed as geologists. The profession is expected to have an annual average growth of 2.5 per cent from 2012 to 2016 in Alberta.
Employment growth for geologists depends primarily on the demand for geology services:
• in exploration and development
• in groundwater catchment and protection
• in the characterization and remediation of contaminated land
• and in carrying out development and mitigation of natural hazards
Thus, demand for these geology services evolves according to trends influencing the petroleum industry, mining sector and public administration. Future job prospects for geologists are expected to be above average in upcoming years as members of the baby boom generation retire.