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Readers Respond: How Do You Work Out Family and Field Life?

Responses: 27


From the article: Geology and Home Life
Spending large amounts of time away from home may be an adventure, but what about the family? A young person asks, "I read that many geologists must be away from their families for a considerable amount of time. Did you get lonely often? How long were you away from your family? Is being away worth it?" Share Your Advice

Fossil and gem hunting with family

I am the second youngest in the family and have an obsession for geology. I am at the moment going to very desolate or dangerous places to do my research and collecting and the rest of my family always want to come, we have gone on at least 3 family geology trips and are always quite risky, the places we go to are places such as the Ediacara Hills (a favourite), Hell Creek, Sydney Basin sites and Patagonia, most, or almost all of these are either deathly hot, deathly cold, extremely unsafe or just uncomfortable.
—Guest Daniel

Geordie Geo

A geologist for 34 years married for 32 years - 3 grown up kids and worked about 25% of time in bush thats about 8 years or equivalent to 2 months on and 10 months off / year. Hey I forgot the years unemployed for long stints. Important to have a very good solid relationship, make hay when the sun shines - enjoy what you do - be prepared to do another job - so train in alternative work - for the downturns. Be positive but realistic of outcomes hood and bad before acting. It's a great life of adventure for the sturdy minded. Have fun whilst single, it all changes when kids arrive. All the best.
—Guest Cyril Geach

Rock Mums do exist

I am an exploration geologist in the petroleum industry working a 9 to 5 job. As much as I love to travel and be out in the field, I have consciously chosen to do less of it when I settled down and get married. Female geologists do not need to sit back just because they have a family. I am the main breadwinner of my family and I have chosen to follow a technical career. But I am also a very ambitious parent. I make it a point to be around my kids most of the time with only occasional work trips (longest one being now, working offshore for a month). Work-life balance works for my husband and me because we share the responsibility at home. When it gets busy at work, the other picks up the slack. I know I am very lucky that my husband understands the challenges of my job and quite rightly, he has never asked me to give it up. On the other hand, we choose locations where both of us can work contrary to options of moving to a remote location.
—Guest Sinag

Exploration around the world

I am a senior exploration geologist. I am currently working on a nickel project, though have worked in gold, copper and zinc. I am English, but now living in Australia but working in Tanzania. For me, work does mean being away from home for extended periods. My current roster means i am away for nearly 6 weeks and then home for 3 weeks. In previous jobs, i have worked one week away with one week home, but also 3 months away with a month home. The being away from home is hard and a understanding partner is vital. The pluses though are great. I have worked all around the world and seen lots of amazing things. I am currently paid to work in a place that lots of tourists pay thousands of dollars to visit. I have worked in China and South America and of course Australia. The financial benefit is also good. Geologists earn high incomes and when i was graduating from university, we were the highest earning graduates by a long way.
—Guest Verystormy

Geologist (Coal) South Africa

I am currently working as a production geologist. There is a fine line between balancing your work life and family life. I am a person loving the outdoors and love exploration geology, but I have decided to make the sacrifice and work on a mine to be able to spend more time with my family. Although my heart still lies with exploration and the outdoors, I value the time with my family as priceless. Life is too short to miss out. I am considering starting my own business in the next 5years. Luckily for me I am 27 and some time left to make a break. Good luck to all of you.
—Guest Francois

Geology rocks

I recently completed college and am 23 years old, i enjoy the travelling and when am exploring in the wild it's absolute bliss. Growing up i have always been a bit of a loner so i don't really mind being away. Besides the pay is awesome, perhaps when am much older that's when geology will take its toll, I doubt it tho, totally loving geology!
—Guest Sam

Plan and a time table

My wife is a nurse, I married her when I was attending school for geology. During my schooling she saved three years of sallary, about quarter of a million, and soon I graduated I got hired to be away for one year got to know all the loops of the business and save a years worth of paycheck. Now me and my wife have our own oil and gas exploitation company in Asia and my wife got an additional degree for accusation all nurse were loving well. Alxamdullilah
—Guest Ansi


I've just completed my masters in Applied geology. My family is ready to let me move out into the world of exploration, before I settle down, to earn much; to learn; to re pay the education loans and so on. Finding a good paying job; a satisfactorily enjoyable one here in India has been so elusive. I've always dreamed of working abroad, at one stage of my life, obviously for the reasons of being paid high and the desire to get to know the different ethnic groups. Works apart, getting to see all those wonderfully crafted geological structures that I've seen in televisions since childhood would be one experience to relish. Dear proffesionals, the words that I've put down are just a few of the hundreds that I would like to convey. Your help would be greatly appreciated. My plans of going abroad doesn't seem to move beyond a step.
—Guest ngazipmi Chahong

Think twice

If you want to know the career ups and downs, just look at the up and down cycles of commodity prices...so goes the life of a geologist...up and down. If you are a dedicated field geologist, these cycles will drastically affect your earning ability and your "family health". Think twice in this very unstable world we live in. Geologists will always be the first to be laid off in a company whose livelihood depends on the managers keeping their jobs to make decisions. They will be working, the geologist won't be. As commodity prices go up and down, this will dictate the working periods for geologists.
—Guest Paul Gann

Hurting wife

I left my choice of architecture for exploration geology because I want the freedom to explore and I wanted to be 'closer to the sun' as I needed to be energized! Now being far from my wonderful wife has strained our relationship. I very much wanted to be closer to her and our three wonderful boys, so much so that I have to make a choice between sacrificing a calling I cherish so much for mining geology. That way, I could get to invite them along at times. My wife couldn't comprehend how I will claim to love her so much and yet be far away for so long. I am giving my wife and first son basic geologic lessons; hopefully someday soon we could all be together in some faraway place 'exploring for minerals'.
—Guest O'muya L

How can I make this work

I am planning on being a geologist and my significant other is planning on being a doctor. If I travel frequently and he works long days we won't be around with our children. I really want this job but I would rather I give up my career than my husband. I was thinking of just working in an office supporting other projects with the theory stuff and avoid travelling till they're older. I agree it is very different for women. If my man wanted a career I would encourage him but also try to get some time with him and the kids. I want to have three asap (soon after my degree) but doing small bits of work in that time.
—Guest Kamilla Hassan

My Dream Job

There are a lot of avenues you can travel down as a geologist. There is no doubt that exploration geology or petroleum geology can take you far away from family and home. Mining geology is more accommodating. You may find yourself in remote places, but you may also be able to bring your family along depending upon the locality and company. I worked as a geologist at several mines, each time being with or at least close to my wife. We are still happily married after 23 years. I am no longer in mining, however my geology background has enabled me to start my own business selling minerals online: dakotamatrix.com. Geology rocks!
—Guest Dakota Matrix

The good, bad and ugly

Geology as a decipline is a very lucrative job, but difficult and also causes a lot of problems in geologist lives. Leaving your kids and wife at home and working as a geologist far from home for a very long time is one of the most difficult problems. The terrain where most exploration geologist also do work is a time bomb. But i tell you your salary as a geologist is a bit better.
—Guest Abubakarr Best kamara

A mixed bag

I love geology/geophysics and I love travelling so being a Petroleum Geophysicist is great for me personally. As younger post-grad I spent time on marine seismic acquisition boats and had a blast with onboard processing and mapping up prospects. Saw SE Asia, Arctic Ocean (beautiful icebergs!), West Africa - ended up divorced but it was a lot more than my work that caused it. Re-married and have managed to stay in the office working up prospects on a geophysicial workstation so I've managed to keep wife #2 reasonably content. I've lived in two rather sketchy countries that have aspects that tick her off, but we've both loved the weekend and vacation travel to beautiful non-sketchy countries nearby. Places where we'd have never dreamed to have travelled to from the US and on low US wages (sketchy = big hazardous duty pay). It's not a job for a stay at home with the high-school crowd sort of person but a way better way of seeing the world than joining the Navy! more $$$ too!
—Guest Sheikh-Bamba

Female exploration geo

This was a career change for me--I came into it late. I am divorced with 2 grown daughters who have their own lives. I work in Africa, FIFO on 8/3 (weeks). For me its ideal, I love it. I'm single and not looking - too busy having fun. I do miss my family but i'ts such an intense way of life that you don't get time to dwell. I do tend to miss out on some family events but I did manage to recently catch a wedding and the birth of my nephew. It can be hard on relationships; I've known numerous collegues with marital problems but I have also known plenty who seem to be able to make it work. I have several married female collegues who work for consultancies and get sent all over the world for weeks at a time and they are perfectly happy. I think its really down to the individual.
—Guest Swampy

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How Do You Work Out Family and Field Life?

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