Tuesday, December 9, 2008

non field geology

I came across a geology job forum recently, and one of the postings said something like this:

"I just graduated with a geology degree. I got a job with an environmental consulting company, and I found out I was supposed to take samples outside. I quit in two days and now I need an office-only job."

My first thought was, "Ah ha ha! Seriously, how did you get through a geology degree and not realize that it involves being outside? We call it earth science for a reason."

Then I realized that being obnoxiously snarky was not helpful. So, are there geology jobs where you do not need an iota of fieldwork, or any knowledge derived from fieldwork? Environmental consulting is out. If you don't understand the conditions the samples were collected from and the errors that can arise, you're not going to be a very good geologist. I'm a firm believer that even modelers need to have some idea where the variability can come from.

There are true office/lab-only geology jobs. I know someone who used to work in the oil biz, identifying fossil critters on an unending series of slides. They were utterly separated from the field setting because the company didn't want to get scooped. I can imagine a number of resource-extraction settings where you're simply given samples for identification.

But is there a career path I'm missing? Something else that requires absolutely no experience with or understanding of field conditions? I'm sure that poster isn't the only newly-minted geologist who doesn't want to go outside.


Anonymous said...

How bizarre. And here I thought half the appeal of geology was not being stuck inside all day.

Silver Fox said...

There are different lab-type careers, like doing petrography for industry or other geologists, but most of these are enhanced by having had some field work. Past field work prior to entering these fields - which also include ore-deposit and mine modeling and ore calculations - usually enhances one's credibility with those doing the hiring, and also enhances the quality of work one does. (Surprise!) So, unless a person goes straight into GIS maybe, I'm not sure what she/he is thinking of. Well - maybe some theoretical geochemistry and geophysics type work, usually if you have a PhD, I would think.

Anonymous said...

I worked for 6 years as an "indoor" geologist for a civil engineering firm (Buffalo, NY) remediating UST sites. Laid-off after we lost our contract with a large municipal authority, so I'm looking for work...indoors OR outdoors!