Geoscience - 5 Ways to Explore and Improve Your Career Options

After graduating with a degree in geoscience, getting a job, particularly your first one, takes time, preparation and perseverance.  However, it is best to start planning now.  There is more to just getting a job, you also want to be thinking about it longer term as a career. 

Steps to consider when searching for work and developing your career

Developing a network of people who know what you do and what you like to do is important, whether it be your friends, family, professors or acquaintances.  The more you network and the more people who know about you the better.  You never know who might lead you to your first geoscience job opportunity.  Some people are naturally better at networking, but it is important to develop your own style. Not every contact needs a resume, but you should have something at hand with your contact info.   Always having a current resume available to give out or Email to a potential employer is important.  Also having a simple ‘student business card’ at hand, and a website address with your resume is really useful.

The VIU Campus Career Centre will help you with your resume and other work search items:

Volunteering or joining groups that have similar interests is important, even if it is only for one or two times.  You should take whatever opportunity you have to develop skills. Here are some ideas:

Every experience you have can help build your competencies (knowledge, skills and attributes) that employers might be looking for.  Many of those required for geoscience have been outlined in VIU’s Earth Science Department’s ‘Program Learning Outcomes for BSc Major in Geoscience and Minor in Earth Science’.   

Ten core competencies that are needed in almost any workplace include:

  • Personal Management
  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Commitment to Quality
  • Professional Behavior
  • Project and Time Management
  • Management of Information and Data,
  • Computer Literacy
  • Social and Environmental Responsibility
  • Continuous Learning/Improvement.

Specific competencies required for geosciences include:

  • Integrating a current and comprehensive range of knowledge and methods to answer geoscience questions
  • Mapping geological materials, features and processes using appropriate tools and techniques
  • Producing geologic models to explain earth phenomena by integrating geologic data
  • Clearly and concisely communicating geoscience concepts
  • Critically evaluating geoscience publications and data
  • Demonstrating openness and adaptability while working in unfamiliar situations

You should also examine the various competencies as they apply to your potential employers and within Engineers and Geoscientists BS (e.g., see Code of Ethics for Professional Geoscientists)

What do you want to do when you graduate?  Where do you see yourself in five years?  What are your strengths and weaknesses?  These are all questions that you should be asking.  There may not be answers to them all.  As a geoscientist you will likely need to be flexible in what you do and expect travel to be part of your work.  Now is a good time to start thinking about your career options as a geoscientist/geologist as there are many, such as: 

  • Environmental geoscientist
  • Exploration geologist
  • Hydrogeologist
  • Petroleum geologist
  • Groundwater geologist
  • Engineering geologist
  • Mine geologist
  • Geoscience education

At the entry level of a BSc graduate you will likely have options such as: a geoscience technician, geological field assistant, a lab technician, a research assistant or education assistant. Whatever experience you have will be important.

One option you may wish to also consider is graduate school, particularly if there is a specific field of earth science you are interested in, or your desire to get into research.  Having an MSc or PhD in many cases increase your options for employment. There are many excellent places to do graduate work in BC, such as UBC, UVic and SFU.

Job postings for Geoscience Jobs in Canada, US and elsewhere can be found at:

On Vancouver Island there are a number of companies working in various geoscience fields such as:

Having a current resume available to give out or Email to a potential employer is essential.  It is also useful to have a set of various cover letters that can be adapted to accompany a resume. You should prepare carefully for any interviews you have – first impressions are important.  Know your potential employer - research them and come up with questions to ask them.  The VIU Career Centre will help you with many of these items.