Career Success

Geoscientists are involved in some of society's most challenging problems and exciting phenomena, such as:

  • Searching for energy resources like petroleum, coal, natural gas and geothermal energy
  • Studying the movement and quality of ground water resources
  • Understanding global climate patterns
  • Developing natural resources in ways that safeguard the environment
  • The discovery, mining and reclamation of mineral deposits;
  • Studying earthquake faults and volcanoes to predict their behavior and prevent damage
  • Excavating and evaluating dinosaur and other fossil sites
  • Designing and monitoring dams, highways, and landfill sites
  • Looking for meteorites in Antarctica

The jobs of geoscientists may have them working on problems in their hometown or across the world. They may be doing basic field work in the wilderness one day and utilizing the most sophisticated analytical and computer equipment the next. Meaningful careers are open to those with bachelor’s degrees, with expanded opportunities for those who go on to receive graduate degrees.

  • Atmospheric scientists
  • Environmental geologists
  • Geochemists
  • Geologists
  • Geographers
  • Geophysicists
  • Hydrogeologists
  • Meteorologists
  • Oceanographers
  • Paleontologists
  • Petroleum geologists
  • Planetary geologists
  • Seismologists
  • Structural geologists
  • Engineering firms
  • Geological and environmental consulting firms
  • Mining companies
  • Museums
  • Petroleum companies
  • State and federal agencies
  • Secondary schools
  • Universities and colleges

Alumni Spotlight

Read about the careers and success stories of alumni in geology below.

2014 alumni Kari Wolf

Kari A. Wolf

Graduation Year: 2014
Major/Minor: Geology major, Soil Science and Hydrogeology minors
Position Title: Research Assistant/M.S. Candidate in Water Resources Science
Employer: The University of Minnesota, College of Food, Agriculture, and Natural Sciences

I graduated from UWRF in 2014 with a degree in geology and minors in soil science and hydrogeology. Currently, I am a second year master's student at the University of Minnesota in the water resources science program with an emphasis on surface water.  

At the U of MN, my main focus is applying the use of anion-exchange resin to remove nitrates from agricultural tile drainage in southern Minnesota. I also work closely with the effects of climate change, increased precipitation, and land use land cover (LULC) on nitrogen loads in Iowa Rivers. What I love most about my current position is that I am still in an environment where education comes first. I really enjoy learning and the fact that I get to do every day is a wonderful experience. Another beneficial outcome of being in grad school is the opportunity to work with people from all types of backgrounds. I am continuously collaborating with people in different departments who are filled with innovative ideas.

During my time at UWRF, I was incredibly fortunate to have Dr. Holly Dolliver as my adviser. I originally wanted to pursue a career in art history but after taking Dr. Dolliver's Intro to Geology course I became especially interested in the subject, specifically groundwater.  After declaring my major in Geology I focused my studies primarily on hydrogeology and soil physics, knowing I wanted to pursue a career in water quality and water transport. I was able to tailor most of my classes to fit well with my desired field of study. I worked on multiple research projects while at UWRF as an intern and as a Summer Scholar and was lucky enough to present that research at the Students of Agronomy, Soil, and Environmental Sciences (SASES) International meeting in Long Beach, CA. I also held a summer internship in Utah at a copper mine working as a hydrogeology intern. These involvements were extremely beneficial to my career development. I gained a lot experience in research, field work, group collaborations, and real-life work environments.

I think what helped me succeed the most was the support of the professors. Each one was dedicated to their students as well as to the subject. They all gave me advice when needed and put my needs as a student first. I also found a lot of support in my fellow classmates. Since geology classes tend to be small and are with the same students, it was a great way for me to develop relationships with people who would soon turn into close friends. I was also a tutor in the CAFES Student Help Center for three of my four years at UWRF, and I found this to be a great way to keep up to date on my studies and to interact with students in all departments. It also forced me to be organized and to get homework done early, when normally I tend to procrastinate.  

Overall, my biggest regret is that I didn't take advantage of the study abroad program. If you know me, you know I love to travel, and it's shocking that I didn't snag this opportunity when I could have. UWRF has a great program for students who aspire to travel and my friends who have taken part have nothing but good words to say about it. Other than that, I have no regrets about my time at UWRF. I made lifelong friends, took advantage of school events, and graduated with a degree that has prepared me for a successful career in my desired field.

Amy Nachbor alumna
Amy Nachbor

Graduation Year: 2009
Major/Minor: Geology
Position Title: Teaching Assistant/PhD Student
Employer: University of South Florida

After I graduated from the UWRF geology program in 2009, I attended UW-Milwaukee as a master's student. Upon completion of my MS degree I was offered an adjunct lecturer position at UWRF. I taught introductory level geology courses at UWRF for two (fantastic) years before moving to Tampa, Florida to work on my PhD.

At the University of South Florida I teach an undergraduate structural geology lab during the semester, but my favorite time of year is field season with my research on fault systems in Death Valley National Park and the hazards associated with recently active faults. I go out every spring to measure fault offsets, collect sediment and rock samples for cosmogenic dating, and map displaced rock units. Once I have samples to work on, I head back to the lab to do the geochemical analysis at the University of Cincinnati. One of the best parts of my job is all the opportunities to travel!

As an undergraduate I took advantage of the many field experiences offered by the geology program and faculty, and I strongly encourage all geology majors to get out and see as many rocks as you can! I never realized how unique these field opportunities were until I left UWRF and met with other geology graduate students who had never left the state they were studying in. Take advantage of the knowledge and enthusiasm your professors have for the topics they teach, both in the classroom and in the field. Join the Geology Club and get involved with your fellow students; they will be your coworkers later on in life and the geosciences is a tight-knit community. All of these experiences make you a better geologist and more competitive when looking for work or a graduate program.

To find out more about career in the field of geology, visit the following:

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, geoscientists make an average yearly income of $89,700. The estimated growth for geology-related job openings from 2014 to 2024 is 10 percent, which is faster than the average growth for all jobs in the U.S.

Contact Us

Plant and Earth Science
324 Agricultural Science
611 S. 3rd St.
Facebook IconInstaGram Icon Twitter Icon Linked In Icon