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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.

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) 
  • 2016 NOC: Geoscientists and oceanographers (2113) 
Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Geologists, Geochemists and Geophysicists

2006 NOC: 2113

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
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

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

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 for this NOC group 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 About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Duties
Updated Apr 11, 2022

Geologists study:

  • The effects of erosion, sedimentation, and tectonic deformation
  • Rock and fluid properties for hydrogeological assessment
  • Structural components of rocks such as lineaments, faults, and folds

Geologists conduct geological surveys, subsurface studies, and field studies. They record and interpret geological information from sources that include:

  • Maps and reports
  • Boreholes
  • Well logs
  • Geological samples such as drill cores and rock, soil, and sediment samples
  • Air photos
  • Satellite imagery
  • Geochemical surveys

From fieldwork and lab research, they prepare geological maps, cross-sectional diagrams, and reports. They also conduct 3D and 4D modelling of geological data.

They use a wide array of instruments in their work, such as:

  • Hammers
  • Diamond drills
  • Geopositioning devices
  • Gravity meters
  • Microscopes
  • Spectroscopes
  • X-ray diffraction equipment

They work with computers in both the field and the office.

Geologists also:

  • Participate in the study and mitigation of natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanoes, and mud slides
  • Classify fossilized life forms, rocks, and minerals
  • Supervise the work of technologists and technicians

They work in teams with:

Geologists may work in various 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, or 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 help to restore disturbed land to its original condition (reclamation). Some reclamation projects increase the financial value of the land.

Geochemists study the chemical makeup and interactions of minerals, rocks, and fluids. They strive to understand the distribution and migration of materials in 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 Earth’s surface to change.

Hydrogeologists study the properties, amount, and makeup of groundwater and formation waters. They may search for potable water or address 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 according to their makeup and structure. They study the properties of minerals. They also develop industrial and environmental uses.

Mining geologists locate and study Earth’s mineral and rock resources. They suggest ways to remove 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 determine the geological characteristics of an underground reservoir and the fluids in it. This helps them decide where to drill for oil and gas. It helps Petroleum Engineers optimize the extraction process. Petroleum geologists study research gathered from:

  • Boreholes
  • Geophysical and geochemical data
  • Geological maps
  • Rock samples
  • Remote-sensing imagery

Planetary geologists study the nature and history of planets and satellites in the solar system.

Sedimentologists study the processes that result in forming 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 geological 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 might study the evolution of mountain building. Or they might consider how to use earth structures in resource extraction.

Surficial geologists study sediments and rock layers close to Earth’s surface. Their findings apply to:

  • Road and building construction
  • Environmental contamination
  • Global change studies
  • Groundwater production
  • Landfill siting
  • Mineral exploration

Volcanologists study active and dormant volcanoes. They predict eruptions to minimize potential damage. They 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 Apr 11, 2022
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg

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 fieldwork. 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 involve a lot of walking.

Traits & Skills
Updated Apr 11, 2022

Geologists need:

  • An open, inquiring, analytical mind
  • Decision-making skills
  • Verbal and writing skills
  • Business acumen (accounting, economics)
  • Attention to detail
  • Teamwork skills
  • The ability to imagine objects in 3D from 2D drawings

They should enjoy:

  • Being outdoors (fieldwork)
  • Doing precise work
  • Developing creative approaches
  • Taking charge
Educational Requirements
Updated Apr 11, 2022
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary

Geologists need at least a bachelor’s (B.Sc.) degree in geology. Some employers prefer a master’s degree (M.Sc.). Geology researchers must have a doctoral (PhD) degree.

They must do ongoing professional development to keep up to date. They need knowledge of:

  • The basics of science (chemistry, physics, biology, math)
  • Geographical information systems (GIS)

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
University of Calgary

Related Education

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

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Apr 11, 2022
  • Certification Provincially Regulated

Certain professional titles or duties within this occupation are protected by provincial legislation. Requirements vary if you use these titles or perform these duties.

The related legislation is shown below. If there are multiple related legislations, select a certification heading to learn about each one.

Geoscientist

Geologists examine rocks from Earth’s surface and subsurface to study the nature and history of the earth’s crust. Geophysicists study the water, surface, and internal composition of Earth.

Before 2014, APEGA awarded the titles of professional geologist and professional geophysicist. These titles remain valid for those who hold them. New applicants can only receive the title of professional geoscientist.

Legislation

Under Alberta’s Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act [pdf] and Engineering and Geoscience Professions General Regulation [pdf], you must register as a member of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) to practice as a Professional Geoscientist or engage in the practice of geoscience.

You do not have to register if you work under the direct supervision of a professional geoscientist and do not call yourself a Professional Geoscientist.

For information on what you need and other details, visit the certification profile Geoscientist.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Apr 11, 2022

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

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 2113: Geoscientists and oceanographers occupational group, 86.0% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 2113: Geoscientists and oceanographers occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.4% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 59 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Note
NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

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

Related Alberta Job Postings
Wage & Salary
Updated Apr 11, 2022

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Geoscientists and oceanographers

2016 NOC: 2113
Average Wage
$69.53
Per Hour
Average Salary
$139,071.00
Per Year
Average Hours
38.6
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
12
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2019 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 2113 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

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.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

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.


Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $23.56 $69.60 $46.99 $45.64
Overall $25.40 $97.36 $69.53 $69.60
Top $30.90 $155.85 $91.51 $95.64

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.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

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

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
29%
29%)
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
10%
10%
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
4%
4%
Vacancy Rate
2%
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Apr 11, 2022

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

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2022. 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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