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Geologist

Geologists examine rocks from Earth’s surface and subsurface for many different purposes. In Alberta, the main reasons are to explore minerals and hydrocarbons (such as oil and gas), develop resources for production, build engineering foundations and stable slopes, and find and gauge ground water supplies.

  • Avg. Salary $128,940.00
  • Avg. Wage $65.85
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary
  • Outlook below avg
  • Employed 6,000
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

Geoscientist, Geoscience Professional, Petroleum Geologist, Physical Scientist, Planetary Geologist, Sedimentologist (carbonate / clastic), Stratigrapher, Surficial Geologist, Volcanologist

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Geologists, Geochemists and Geophysicists (2113) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Geologists, Geochemists and Geophysicists (C013) 
  • 2011 NOC: Geoscientists and oceanographers (2113) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

8%
8%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Provincially Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Interest Codes
The Geologist is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Geologists, Geochemists and Geophysicists
INNOVATIVE

Interest in synthesizing information to plan and direct field studies, drilling and testing programs, and seismic, electromagnetic, magnetic, gravimetric, radiometric, radar and other remote sensing programs to extend knowledge of the earth; in assessing deposits and geological age; and in determining characteristics and suitability of materials for use as concrete aggregates, road fill and other applications

OBJECTIVE

Interest in precision working with instruments to identify deposits of construction materials; and in participating in remote sensing programs and in analyses of core samples, drill cuttings and rock samples to identify chemical, mineral, hydrocarbon and biological composition

DIRECTIVE

Interest in consulting to recommend the acquisition of lands, exploration and mapping programs, and mine development; and in advising in areas such as waste management, route and site selection and the restoration of contaminated sites; may supervise and co-ordinate well drilling, completion and workovers, and mining activities

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Geologists work in industry, government, and education. They work in teams with:

In general, geologists:

  • collect and interpret rock samples and drill cores
  • classify fossilized life forms, rocks, and minerals
  • collect and study soil and sediment samples in geochemical surveys
  • study the effects of erosion, sedimentation, and tectonic deformation
  • record and interpret geological information from such sources as:
    • maps and reports
    • boreholes
    • well logs
    • sample repositories
    • air photos
    • satellite imagery
    • geochemical surveys
  • conduct geological surveys, subsurface and field studies
  • participate in the study and mitigation of natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanoes, and mud slides
  • prepare geological maps, cross-sectional diagrams and reports from field work and lab research
  • conduct 3- and 4-dimensional geological data modelling
  • supervise the work of technologists and technicians
  • study rock properties for hydrogeological assessment
  • study structural components of rocks (such as lineaments, faults, and folds).

Geologists use a wide array of instruments (such as hammers, diamond drills, geopositioning devices, gravity meters, microscopes, spectroscopes, and x-ray diffraction equipment) in their work. They work with computers in both the field and office.

Geologists may work in a variety of areas:

  • Coal geologists locate and classify coal resources. They determine their fit for coal mining and coal bed methane (gas) development.
  • Computing geologists develop software (such as database systems, geographic information systems, statistics packages). They use it to study data and information.
  • Economic geologists locate, rate and classify mineral deposits.
  • Engineering geologists study geological data. They advise government agencies and construction companies. This helps with choosing locations for buildings, dams, highways, airfields and tunnels. They work with other engineers in oil, gas and mineral exploration and production. They also work in environmental cleanups.
  • Environmental geologists assess the environmental impact of the development or use of mineral, hydrocarbon (oil, gas, coal) and water resources. They assist in restoring disturbed land back to its original condition or to a more valuable land use (reclamation).
  • Geochemists study the chemical makeup of minerals, rocks and fluids and their interactions. They strive to understand the distribution and migration of materials in the earth’s crust.
  • Geochronologists determine the age of rocks. They do this by studying the radioactive decay of key elements.
  • Geomorphologists examine landforms and processes (such as erosion and glaciation). These processes cause the earth’s surface to change.
  • Hydrogeologists study the properties, amount and makeup of groundwater and formation waters. They may search for potable water or be involved in environmental issues. These issues can include:
    • groundwater contamination
    • landfill siting
    • liquid waste disposal by deep injection.

To learn more, see the Hydrologist occupational profile.

  • Marine geologists study coastal and marine environments and their evolution. They explore ocean basins for mineral and petroleum potential.
  • Mineralogists study, identify and classify minerals and precious stones according to their makeup and structure. They study the properties of minerals. They also develop industrial and environmental uses.
  • Mining geologists locate and study the earth’s mineral and rock resources. They suggest ways to use them safely and efficiently.
  • Paleontologists study fossils for a variety of purposes, such as to:
    • establish relative age.
    • suggest places to explore for petroleum
    • study evolution and ancient environments.
  • Petrographers describe and classify rocks, most often after a microscopic study.
  • Petroleum geologists study research gathered from:
    • boreholes
    • geophysical and geochemical data
    • geological maps
    • rock samples
    • remote sensing imagery.

This helps them decide where to drill for oil and gas. They determine the geological characteristics of an underground reservoir and the fluids in it. This helps petroleum engineers optimize the extraction process.

  • Planetary geologists study the nature and history of planets and satellites in the solar system.
  • Sedimentologists study the processes that result in the formation of sedimentary rocks. They apply this knowledge to help locate coal, petroleum and other types of mineral resources.
  • Shale-oil and shale-gas geologists locate and study oil and gas resources in very low permeability reservoirs and unconventional reservoirs.
  • Stratigraphers study arrangements of sedimentary rock layers. They do this by examining the fossil and makeup of boreholes and diamond drill cores. This helps locate coal and petroleum.
  • Structural geologists study the geometry and elements of brittle and plastic rock deformation. For example, they may study the evolution of mountain building. Or they may consider the usefulness of earth structures in resource extraction.
  • Surficial geologists study sediments and rock layers close to the earth’s surface. Their findings are used in:
    • road and building construction
    • landfill siting
    • mineral exploration
    • environmental contamination
    • groundwater production
    • global change studies
  • Volcanologists study active and dormant volcanoes. They predict eruptions to minimize potential damage. They also learn about the physics and chemistry of volcanic processes.
  • Well-site geologists work closely with drilling crews in the field. They make sure wells penetrate target zones. They also ensure coring samples are taken at required intervals.
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2018

In Alberta, most geologists work in the energy industries. They spend much of their time working in office settings. They may spend some time at rig sites.

Mineral and mining geologists are more likely to do field work. Some geologists spend 3 to 6 months a year doing fieldwork. They live and work in remote locations and cover large areas. They may travel by foot, float plane, helicopter, boat, all-terrain vehicle, snowmobile, or truck. They may work underground part of the time. Those who work in international exploration travel a lot.

Physical requirements for geologists vary with the type of work. Geologists in labs may do little or no heavy lifting. Those collecting samples in the field may need to lift items weighing up to 20 kilograms. Collecting samples can also involve a lot of walking.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Geologists need to possess:

  • verbal and writing skills
  • an open, inquiring, analytical mind
  • the ability to make decisions
  • some knowledge of geographical information systems (GIS)
  • knowledge of the basics of science (chemistry, physics, biology, math)
  • business acumen (accounting, economics)
  • attention to detail
  • the ability to imagine objects in 3 dimensions from drawings
  • the ability to work well in a team setting.

They should enjoy:

  •  being outdoors (fieldwork)
  •  doing precise work
  •  developing creative approaches
  •  taking charge.
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Geologists need at least a bachelor’s (B.Sc.) degree in geology. They must do ongoing professional development to keep up to date. Some employers prefer a master’s degree (M.Sc.). Geology researchers must have a doctoral (PhD) degree.


Required Education

The following schools offer programs and courses that meet this occupation’s educational requirements. Other eligible programs and courses may be available.

Mount Royal University

University of Alberta


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Geoscientist

Geologists study the nature and history of the earth's crust, and apply their knowledge to help explore for minerals and hydrocarbons, develop resources for production, build engineering foundations and stable slopes, find and evaluate ground water supplies and conduct environmental investigations. Geophysicists use the principles of physics, mathematics and geology in studying the water, surface and internal composition of the earth. Exploration geophysicists look for oil, natural gas, water and minerals for commercial and environmental projects.

Prior to 2014, APEGA awarded the titles of professional geologist and professional geophysicist. These titles remain valid for those who hold them, but new applicants can only be given the title of professional geoscientist

Legislation

Under Alberta's Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act, you must be a registered member of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) to practice as a professional geoscientist. You do not have to be registered if you work under the direct supervision of a professional geoscientist and do not call yourself a professional geoscientist.

What You Need

Registration as a professional geoscientist requires: (1) an approved four year bachelor's degree in geology or geophysics and at least four years of acceptable work experience under the supervision of a professional geoscientist, or an equivalent combination of education and experience, (2) at least three acceptable references, and (3) successful completion of an approved examination in law, ethics and professionalism. For official, detailed information about registration requirements, visit APEGA's website or contact APEGA.

Working in Alberta

Geoscientists who are registered and in good standing with a regulatory organization elsewhere in Canada may be eligible for registration in Alberta if registered geoscientists in the two jurisdictions have similar responsibilities and competencies. For more information, see "What if I am already certified in another province or territory?" and the Alberta regulatory authority (below).

To find more information on the certification process for internationally educated geoscientists, see Professional Geoscientist Licensing Process on the AlbertaCanada.com website.

Contact Details

Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta
1500 Scotia One, 10060 Jasper Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta
Canada  T5J 4A2
Phone number: 780-426-3990
Toll-free phone number (within North America): 1-800-661-7020
Fax: 780-426-1877
Website: www.apega.ca

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Geologists work for:

  • consulting firms
  • shale-oil and shale-gas exploration firms
  • resource, exploration, engineering and environmental firms
  • government departments and agencies
  • science centres and museums
  • universities
  • research organizations.

A bachelor of science (B.Sc.) is required for entry-level positions. Advanced degrees are required for research and post-secondary teaching positions.

Geologists are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 2113: Geologists, geochemists and geophysicists. In Alberta, 89% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events that affect overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities that come up when people leave existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities that come up when new positions are created)
  • size of the occupation.

In Alberta, the C013: Geologists, Geochemists and Geophysicists occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 0.9% from 2016 to 2020. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 20 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2018
Geoscientists and oceanographers

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $23.00 $82.05 $46.90 $48.08
Overall $31.27 $96.84 $65.85 $64.97
Top $40.67 $152.56 $90.31 $83.00

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Industry Information
Oil & Gas Extraction
ALL INDUSTRIES
Public Administration
Professional, Scientific & Technical Services

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

28%
28%

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

8%
8%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

2%
2%

Vacancy Rate

1%
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) website: www.apega.ca

Canadian Federation of Earth Sciences (CFES) website: www.earthsciencescanada.com

Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists (CSPG) website: www.cspg.org

For more information on career planning, education and jobs call the Alberta Supports Contact Centre toll-free at 1-877-644-9992 or 780-644-9992 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Supports Centre near you.

Updated Mar 31, 2018. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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