Most citizens need to know just a few important things about geology: we depend on resources that come from mines, the Earth has a deep and fascinating history, plate tectonics explains a huge number of things in a simple framework, and Earth hazards demand society's serious attention at all levels. Someone thinking of geology as a career needs to know a lot more details. Jessica Ball, a grad student in volcanology, asked her peers what students must learn well to do well, and summarized the collective response in an article in Earth magazine.
Back when I went to geology school, some of this might have scared me away. But then in those days, computers were giant metal boxes kept in clean-rooms, staffed by electrical-engineering grad students and fed decks of punch cards. Now computers are, well, just computers. In a word, geoscience is more digestible today, even Ball's daunting list of knowledge. And as a result even undergraduates can produce publishable research, which never ceases to amaze me.