There are various high-paying geology jobs to explore within the environmental, energy, and engineering sectors. And, once you earn a degree in geology, you can get a job directly related to your area of study.
Apart from the degree, having work experience in a geology-related field gives you an upper hand when job hunting. However, the best jobs for geology majors require an advanced degree focusing on specialized areas such as mineralogy, volcanology, hydrology, or paleontology.
That said, we will look at high-paying geology jobs you can explore with basic or advanced degrees.
What are the high-paying geology jobs?
If you are looking for geologist jobs that pay well, start by looking for fieldwork experience in your area of interest. You can enroll in an advanced program to gain specialized skills that will help you increase your chances of getting a well-paying job.
Below we highlight 13 well-paying geology jobs for both basic and advanced degree holders.
1. Engineering geologist
Engineering geologists carry out detailed analyses of rock, soil, groundwater, and other geological conditions to assess the geological hazards on construction projects. They then decide whether the site is suitable for development.
You will need a geology degree to secure a job as an engineering geologist with special interest is given to relevant core subjects such as mathematics, physics, earth, and applied science and engineering. And, although the postgraduate qualification is not a must, having it gives you an upper hand.
The main employers for this post include oil and gas companies, government bodies, environmental consultancy companies, civil engineering contractors, and geotechnical and geo-environmental site investigation companies.
The mean annual salary for engineering geologists in the U.S. is $82,768 and the highest earners get $121,000 a year.
Geoscientist focuses on the earth’s systems to interpret geological, geochemical, and geophysical information. They advise those undertaking engineering projects and search for viable and exploitable water, gas, oil, and mineral reserves.
The position only requires a relevant bachelor’s degree, but postgraduate studies will improve your long-term career development. Work shadowing, internships, or summer work gives you practical work experience and is extremely useful in getting an opportunity.
Some employers may also be interested in experiences gained through research trips, fieldwork or project works. The main employers include environmental, petroleum, water, and engineering companies.
The mean annual salary for geoscientists in the U.S. is $112,110. The highest-earning geoscientists earn more than $201,150, making this one of the highest-paying jobs for geology degree holders.
3. Wellsite geologist
As the name suggests, wellsite geologists study and classify rock cuttings removed from wells. They use rock-cutting data, core samples, and specialized tests to advise gas and oil operators on how deep to drill wells. They prepare reports during and after the drilling and forward their findings to appropriate departments.
You will need a degree in geology and field experience as a logging geologist or mudlogger to get a job as a wellsite geologist. Though not a must, an MSc in geology would give you an upper hand in the job market.
Look for this opportunity in specialist consultancy companies or firms that offer drilling services. You can also consider working as an independent consultant for flexible payments and working terms.
The mean annual salary for wellsite geologists in the United States is $58,860, with the highest getting more than $111,000 a year.
4. Environmental consultant
This job does not necessarily require a degree in geology, but having one gives you an opportunity in this field. The main role of an environmental consultant is to offer advice to government or private entities on environmental matters.
You may specialize in any environmental areas such as environmental management systems, renewable energy opportunities, emissions & climate change, waste management & recycling, environmental impact assessment & flood risk, and air, land & water contamination.
The minimum entry qualification to the job is an honors degree, but work-based placement and postgraduate studies will give you an upper hand.
The mean annual salary for an environmental consultant is $80,090. The highest earners get more than $129,450 a year, which explains why environmental consultancy is one of the high-paying geology jobs in the U.S.
Another high-paying geology job is being a geophysicist. Geophysicists focus on the earth’s physical processes and are mainly employed by environmental agencies and oil and gas companies.
They collect data on seismic waves to create a picture of what lies beneath the earth’s surface to advise the oil and gas industries in their operations.
As a geophysicist, you will generate and record data, plot data, check for errors, and analyze and evaluate geophysical data. You may work in one of these three key areas – solid earth, upper atmosphere, or fluid earth.
The minimum qualification for this job is a degree in geology, geoscience, geophysics, physics, or mathematics.
The mean annual salary for geophysicists in the US is $112,110 and the highest-paid experts receive more than $201,150 a year.
The main focus of hydrogeologists is the protection and management of groundwater resources. They attempt to solve big challenges facing the world today, including flow, distribution, and quality of underground water, environmental protection, food & energy production, and coping with climatic changes.
You can get hydrogeologist job opportunities in research organizations, environmental and engineering consultancy firms, water supply companies, government regulators, the nuclear industry, mining or quarrying organizations, and water disposal companies.
All you need is a relevant first degree and a postgraduate in geology with the main focus on groundwater studies. Relevant work experience in environmental or geological organizations is a plus.
The mean annual salary for hydrogeologists in the U.S. is $61,400, with top earners taking home up to $87,000 per year.
7. Hydrographic surveyor
A degree in geology with a master’s in a hydrographic survey will land you a job as a hydrographic surveyor. The job entails using modern technology to develop detailed plans of harbors, seabeds, and waterways.
You will measure and map underground surfaces and study the morphology of the ocean floor to determine its shape, depth, and contours.
Improve your employability skills through vacation work and sandwich placement in surveying, nautical, and computing industries.
It is one of the high-paying geology jobs in the U.S. with the mean annual salary being $55,000. The highest get up to $102,000 per year.
Here is a short video of a certified hydrographer and land surveyor explaining what hydrographic survey entails. Video courtesy: Widseth.
A geochemist focuses on earth and its chemical composition. They examine the amount and distribution of chemical elements in rocks and minerals.
Geochemists also seek to know how the chemical elements move into soil and water systems. The result helps improve water quality, guide oil exploration, and develop plans to clean up the environment.
You will get opportunities in research facilities, environmental consultancy firms, education institutions, and oil and gas companies. Employers would require a degree in geology with experience in hydrogeology, toxicology, and sedimentology.
The mean annual salary for geochemists in the U.S. is $70,515, with the possibility of earning up to $124,000 a year based on experience.
This is an entry-level job that requires a degree in geology or any other relevant subject like physics and mathematics. Prior work experience is not necessary, but vacation work gives you a high chance of employment.
Mudloggers gather data from rock samples useful to drilling wells during oil or gas extraction. They create a detailed well log to help decide the efficiency and location of well sites. You will likely land a job in exploration and extraction companies locally as well as internationally.
The mean annual salary for mudloggers in the United States is $93,495. The highest-paid professionals earn up to $135,000 a year, which makes this one of the highest-paying geology jobs in America.
10. Geotechnical engineer
This is one of the best jobs for geology majors with a postgraduate qualification in hydrogeology, engineering geology, geotechnical geology, rock mechanics, or soil engineering.
Geological engineers support design and construction activities by utilizing their expertise in soil and rock analysis. They test and analyze soil and rocks to assess the risk of infrastructural projects on humans and the environment.
You will find opportunities in private sectors that work for construction, consultancy, or engineering organizations. Increase your employability skills through summer internships and placements in engineering firms, construction companies, and geotechnical consultancy firms.
The mean annual salary for geological engineers in the US is $59,994, with a chance of earning over $93,000 per year.
11. Sustainability consultant
Though sustainability consultants come from a range of backgrounds, a degree in geology will give you an opportunity in this area.
The main role of sustainability consultants is to help businesses and companies be more environmentally and socially responsible in their operations. This is achieved by coming up with solutions for the conflicting needs of the environment, people, and businesses.
You will get job opportunities in specialty consultancy firms, infrastructure companies, and the construction sectors. Get some experience working as a volunteer in relevant sectors to increase your chance of employment.
The mean annual salary for sustainability consultants is $68,104, with top earners getting $95,000 per year.
12. Mineral surveyors
Another high-paying job for geologists is working as mineral surveyors. These professionals are involved throughout mineral extraction, right from preparation to processing of prospective mineral sites.
As a mineral surveyor, you will carry out surveys to examine the viability of quarrying or mining, predict environmental impacts and assess the risks. Once the site is determined as viable, you will then help negotiate contracts and establish rights to start work in the mine.
From there, you will manage all the activities, record the extent of extraction and work with other professionals to restore the land.
A degree in a range of disciplines can land you this job opportunity, but geology is one of the relevant subjects needed. Recruiters are also interested in pre-entry experience in the geological or surveying environment.
The mean annual salary for mineral surveyors in the United States is $66,282, with a salary potential of $76,800 a year.
13. Drilling engineer
Drilling engineers work in the petroleum industry. They plan, develop and oversee all the operations during the drilling of oil and gas wells. You will need a degree in engineering, but a geology major is also very useful.
The main employers for this role are service companies, specialist drilling contractors, and operating oil companies. Work experience in relevant sectors coupled with organizational and communications skills gives you a better chance of getting employed.
The mean annual salary for drilling engineers in the U.S. is $128,052. The highest-paid earn over $181,000 a year, which explains why it is one of the high-paying geology jobs in America.
Key insights & takeaway!
Most high-paying geology jobs require a degree in geology and relevant field experience in related sectors. Start with summer internships and work placements to increase your chances of landing the jobs highlighted above. However, you can still get entry-level, high-paying geologist jobs like mudlogger without necessarily having experience.