Hey all you climbing geologists out there!

Original Post
Andrew Bennett 1 · · Wellington, New Zealand · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 0

I am currently a senior at University of Washington studying geology and I'll be graduating in Decemeber. I am a 24 year old and I'm finishing this degree after a prolonged climbing stint. I know there are quite a few people working in the field who are climbers and wanted to hear what it was like searching for and getting a job. Any leads would be greatly appreciated!

Todd Anderson · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jun 2011 · Points: 0

I guess I'll bump this. I am a second-year graduate student in the Earth and Space Sciences department at UW, but I did physics undergrad and am more on the space side of things here. I have a few friends who did geology undergrad degrees and got survey work for either USGS or energy companies, but most of them are looking at grad school now. If you want to do research, you'll certainly need more than a bachelor's at some point.

A PhD program can be a pretty good gig for outdoor pursuits. It's a lot of work sometimes (/often), but you can often work a flexible schedule and occasionally get outside during the week. During the summers or other times when you're not taking or teaching classes, you can usually figure out how to take extra time off for climbing trips if you're good about getting work done when you're in the office. A Master's program is likely to involve a lot more class, so it might be less flexible.

Another option to think about is teaching at the high school or middle school (or whatever) level, or as a lecturer (non-tenured) at the university level. Depending on your course load it could be a lot of work during the week, but if you're careful you can get out every weekend and you have the whole summer for climbing trips. You can teach at a private school without a teaching license (i.e. Master's in Education), but you will be paid more with a Master's.

If you're not attached to pursuing a career in geology, consider the skills you have rather than the classes you've taken. Are you good at programming? Know your way around ArcGIS? Had a good time doing fieldwork? There are jobs outside of geology that need your skills, and might be interesting.

Hopefully someone closer to your field can chime in. The most important question you are facing, from a career perspective, is whether you need/want to pursue a graduate degree. A graduate degree is a waste of time and money if you aren't interested in jobs that require it, but a Master's is becoming more and more necessary for jobs in STEM fields.

Good luck!

Nick Henscheid · · Tucson, AZ · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 260

Come get a PhD in Tucson! Tons of climbers in the geoscience program (I'm friends with many of them), it's one of the best programs in the country, and it's in probably the best climbing town in the world. You can climb 366 days a year on whatever kind of rock you want in whatever climate you want with a 1-6 hour drive depending on where you go.

JohnSol · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 0

What flavor of geology are your interest in? Sed/strat, hard rock, geochemistry, water, geomorph?

What does your perfect job look like? Pay, hours, location, responsibilities? Are you willing to work for the government?

There is a world of opportunity in earth science. Need some more information for good recommendations.

Seems to be an uptick in hiring lately, so you can just try a few positions over the next couple years. In any case you should be ready to work up through the ranks a bit if you don't want to pursue a graduate program

Faulted Geologist · · Lawrence, KS · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 8

USGS and other Federal Govt enteties have to give preference to vets, and there are plenty of those right now with our eternal war. If you didn't get straight 4.0 and opted not to participate in the societies, your chances are slim. I got tired of applying and went local.

You do have a two year period for intro jobs at USGS etc, so apply now and get in while still a fresh graduate. Internships will be temp and barely pay anything, but almost guarantee a position later.

There will always be jobs in water from now to the end of time. The pay isn't stellar, but the job security is great. No GOP govt shutdowns to worry about either.

Most geology jobs are in exploitation (oil, gas), and that is where the money is until the resources dry up.

Teaching is great if you can deal with the kids these days. My own kids are enough for me.

Mental Environ
BS Env Sci, Minor Geology

Idaho Ian · · Pocatello, ID · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 0

Hey, man! I just went through that line of thought this last spring and ended up in a M.S. degree after graduating with my B.S. this summer. A couple of friends have found sweet jobs or internships, but 80% of us either continued education or are still looking for jobs.

I did an internship this summer with a geodetics research company and got to work with a lot of people in the industry including USGS, BLM, and other research sector geologists. All of them suggested getting a M.S. The USGS people said good luck getting a job without a P.H.D. due to competition.

Most of the M.S. students here at Idaho State are pretty busy as others have suggested, but we have time to climb several days a week.
What kind of jobs are you interested in?

evan h · · Denver, CO · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 205

Jobs without at least an M.S. are slim and generally not very fun, in my experience. I worked in environmental for a bit before realizing that I wasn't very psyched on that, and then got my Masters. I completely intended to go on with academia and the PhD route, but was granted an oil and gas internship, which turned into a job offer. The pay is great and the work hours are typical of an office environment, but the work is more business focused, corporate and less wholesome than academia at times -- but academia is not without its egos and politics. With the downturn in prices over the last 2 years, we're still experiencing layoffs and few folks are being hired.

USGS and other offices will probably require a PhD for just about any position worth having, but there are exceptions.

Expect positions in climber-friendly places to be competitive, so I hope you've kept up that GPA! After all, geologists generally love the outdoors, right?

Dylan Pike · · SLC, UT · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 5

I got a BS in geology and I'm working for an environmental consultant. Alot of my friends and coworkers worked a year or two and bailed for grad school. I love the environmental work, but it's certainly not for every person. Lots of jobs available, but maybe not in the great climbing locales. PM me if you want to talk more.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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