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Andrew Alden

Americans, Geoscience Jobs Can Be Yours

By March 22, 2013

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The American Geosciences Institute or AGI keeps track of the work situation for people in the geo-professions. Recently AGI issued its latest such report, "Status of the Geoscience Workforce 2011" (you can download a large sample of it here or buy the whole thing for $10 here). The job prospects are very good in this country as people retire and as openings continue to grow. Before 2020, AGI estimates, something around 200,000 geoscience jobs will need to be filled, and American institutions are nowhere near able to meet the need for degreed graduates.

I don't have to tell you how important geoscience is to civilization, especially sustainable civilization. When it comes to learning how to live on the planet we have, geoscientists do a world of good. But I should probably point out that any graduate in the STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) can have a great career by adding a "geo-" to their specialty—because geology is the mother of all sciences.

The Geological Society of America issued two position statements related to this issue. "The Importance of Teaching Earth Science" is a detailed set of recommendations for getting geology into the curriculum in meaningful ways all the way through the K–12 educational system. It has a recommendation that I take to heart: "The Geological Society of America encourages its members [that's me] to . . . engage in communicating Earth science to the public, including local schools." The second statement, Expanding and Improving Geoscience in Higher Education," is for the next level of educators. Given recent events like Hurrican Katrina, the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, more and more of us know the value of geoscientists: "These issues challenge our technology and infrastructure and require solutions by integrated teams that rely on highly educated geoscientists." It's a reason for all science faculty, not just geology professors, to speak up for geoscience in their colleges.

I hope to encourage young people to take up geoscience, and I serve them and their parents with sound basic material. But I—and they—need an unbroken chain of education and training between student and jobholder. Please add your help on the way.

Jobs in Geology
Teacher Resources
What Is Geology?
Women in Geology
Listen Everybody, Especially You Girls: Women in STEP: The High Visibility Project


March 27, 2013 at 1:15 am
(1) Kevin says:

I have a CS degree, and worked as a programmer for a long time. What would be something I could do that would allow me to get into some of this?

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