Volcanologists are earth scientists who study volcanoes on Earth and other planetary bodies.
Earth science is the study of the nature of the earth and other planets. It combines geology, the principal earth science, with oceanography, meteorology and astronomy to understand the forces that have created the universe. Earth scientists are also called geoscientists. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2010 median annual pay for geoscientists was $82, 500.
Mineralogy is a subdivision of geology dealing with the study of minerals. This subject began as a study of the crystalline compounds that are the earth’s building blocks. Today, it has expanded to include the study of these compounds in soils, waste products and concrete as well as those made by living organisms, from human kidney stones to sea shells. Mineralogists work in mineral exploration, construction site investigation and building design, and as teachers of earth sciences in schools and universities.
Soil scientists study the physical, chemical and biological properties of soils and their management. Engineering geology is a version of soil science adapted to the initial investigation of construction sites and the design of foundations and earth retaining structures such as dams. Soil scientists work in site surveying and remediation, land reclamation, and waste disposal for private sector companies and state and federal agencies; and in research at universities. A geology major and good mathematical skills are essential for these careers.
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Paleontologists study past life on Earth through the investigation of fossils. They are employed widely in the oil and gas industry, museums and research institutions. A geology major with a master’s or doctorate in paleontology is the best qualification for these jobs.
Geophysics is the study of the earth using magnetic, electrical, gravitational and seismic techniques. Geophysicists work mostly in the energy, mining and construction sectors. Much of the work involves computer modeling and analysis, so geophysicists need excellent mathematical and IT skills. A geology, physics or civil engineering major with a master's or doctorate in geophysics are the best career start.
Volcanologists are geologists who specialize in studying volcanoes. They monitor the process of how a volcano forms and erupts, how and where lava falls, and how particle emissions circulate in the atmosphere. They have to keep abreast of continuous instrumental monitoring around live volcanoes, and be on call to give public information through the broadcast, print and electronic media about imminent dangers. Most volcanologists work in state and federal agencies and in university research. This career needs a geology, mathematics or meteorology major with a doctorate in volcanology together with strong communication skills.