Insight into geology careers

A guide for Earth Science graduates

What do geology graduates do?

According to the higher education careers website Prospects, many geology graduates enter professions related directly to their degree. Destinations surveys indicate significantly more University of Birmingham graduates gain employment in geology-related areas than those of other UK universities. Popular roles include hydrogeology, environmental engineering, geological surveying, environmental planning and exploration. Typical employers of geology graduates include:

  • Environmental consultancies
  • Groundwater industry
  • Civil engineering and construction companies
  • Oil, gas and petroleum industries

 Other employers of geologists include:

  • British Geological Survey (BGS)
  • Environment Agency (EA)
  • Local authorities and museums
  • Government organisations

With geology careers being extremely diverse, students go into a wide range of professions, and increasing numbers of our graduates are employed in environmental planning, land remediation hydrogeology and pollution control. Opportunities in some fields, notably the oil and minerals industries, vary from year to year. (The availability of roles in sectors such as the extractive industries can depend on many factors including demand, economic factors and environmental considerations.) Geology opens up international opportunities with many students going on to careers in locations such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

Whilst large numbers of students from Earth Sciences are engaged in work or study directly related to their first degree, the remainder often choose career paths in areas outside of the subject such as teaching, lecturing, and financial services, where the transferable skills gained on the programme prove invaluable.

Increasingly, a successful career in geology is helped by having a higher qualification. Nearly half of our graduates go on to further study before taking a job, either by completing a one-year MSc course or researching for a PhD.

Where can I find more information?

A good place to start your research into geology careers is on the Careers Network ResourceList for Natural resources, energy, the environment, conservation, which has a number of resources and links to help you find out more about the sector and apply for jobs.

The Geological Society of London has a range of geology career profiles, job listings, careers leaflets and information regarding work experience and placements. These provide useful insights into entry level careers in the industry as well as more senior roles, such as Senior Hydrologist, to which you may aspire later in your career.

The Geological Society also arranges annual careers days for students to obtain insights into career options in related industries. The School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences (GEES) at the University of Birmingham often organises trips for final year undergraduates to attend the careers day in Nottinghamshire, every November.

Do I need a postgraduate qualification?

When researching geology careers, you may find that several job profiles indicate that a postgraduate qualification may be essential, or at least beneficial. The necessity of a postgraduate qualification will depend on the specific role in which you are interested. Many universities offer postgraduate qualifications and will provide an overview not only of the course content, but also the support provided as part of the course by external organisations and professional bodies, as well as the employability of students who have graduated.

The University of Birmingham offers a range of relevant postgraduate degrees including Hydrogeology, Geotechnical Engineering and Applied & Petroleum Micropalaeontology. The scope for employment with these qualifications is outlined on the course pages. For courses at other universities see Prospects Postgraduate courses, as well as Find a Masters and Find a PhD.

Unsure what to do next?

Not all students know what they want to do when they graduate and many may be uncertain whether they wish to pursue a career related to their degree discipline, or enter a different field of work which makes use of the transferable skills developed whilst studying.

When faced with such uncertainty, it can be tempting to apply for a postgraduate qualification immediately after your undergraduate degree as a way of delaying making career choices, but often this can prove counter-productive. If you are uncertain about what you would like to do when you graduate, Careers Network's web pages provide you with resources to help you explore your options, including assistance making career choices. You can also book a face to face appointment with a Careers Adviser to discuss your options.

Get networking

Once you have undertaken some research into the sector and found potential areas of interest, start contacting people in the relevant industries and try attending any conferences or related events. Attend the university’s careers fairs in order to meet employers, and also ask your tutors if they have any contacts they may be able share with you.

Many graduates use LinkedIn as a means of connecting with employers and others in their industry sectors. Networking is an invaluable means of finding out what other recent graduates have done and how they achieved those outcomes, as well as putting you in touch with potential employers who may work in the industry sectors in which you are interested

Go to to find out what all University of Birmingham graduates with LinkedIn profiles are doing (over 164,000 as of June 2020). You can filter by degree discipline and year of attendance. Careers Network run workshops to help you get started with LinkedIn – find out when they take place via our events page.

If you are considering undertaking further study at another institution (for example a Masters in Mining Engineering), you may also find it helpful to look at alumni from that course / institution using LinkedIn, to see how the qualification may have assisted those individuals in their career development.

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