Geoscience careers

Careers in the geosciences

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Whether you'd like to join the forefront of the resource industry, provide expertise to protect our environment or address the effects of climate change, studying geosciences will give you skills for a huge range of careers.

Geography careers

The National Committee for Geographical Sciences Decadal Plan identifies geography graduates as playing an important role in helping resolve many of Australia’s key challenges over the next decade. There is a growing importance for geographical knowledge and ways of thinking to address the pressing issues of our time and future. Now is a great time to be a geographer.    

What does a geographer do?

  • document past environmental change
  • appreciating perceptions of, and responses to, natural hazards 
  • causes and consequence of spatial differences in human wellbeing
  • manage growth of cities and regions
  • repairing the effects of human modifications of river environments
  • solutions to interactions in environmental, economic and social change
  • making the ways we use environmental resources more sustainable. 

The twenty-first century is rich in data. Much of the data at our disposal has a spatial component. The analysis of spatial data using computer-based technologies is called Geographic Information Science (GIS) and this forms an important component of the geography major at the University of Sydney.

Graduates with GIS expertise are well-placed to find employment across many sectors of the economy and is a skillset that is internationally transferable. The Environmental Systems Research Institute identified major societal shifts that will further enhance the importance of GIS as an asset for business, community organisations, and government.

GIS applications include:

  • remote analysis of deforestation
  • discovery of ancient civilisations
  • post-disaster recovery
  • community planning
  • agricultural sustainability
  • transport economics.

Geography career opportunities

Students who have graduated with a geography major from the University of Sydney are found in many different private, community and public sector organisations. Employers view the integrative and applied nature of geography as a strength. 

Career pathways for geographers include:

  • environmental assessment
  • natural resource management
  • urban planning
  • sustainability evaluation
  • climate change adaptation
  • population forecasting
  • international development.

Geology and Geophysics careers

Career Explorer defines a geologist and geophysicists as someone who works to understand the history of the planet we live on, to better predict the future and explain current occurrences. 

When geologists investigate earth materials, they not only investigate metals and minerals, but also look for oil, natural gas, water and methods to extract these. Overall, geology is concerned with the changes of the earth over time, such as climate change and land formation.

Working as a mine geologist, it’s exciting to be the first person viewing rocks, structures and formations from approx. 1.6 billion years ago and I get paid to do it!
Lena O’Toole, geology alumna
Lena O’Toole, Geology alumni

“I have so many geology related aspirations and I'm determined to aspire to them all. No surprise to anyone who knows me; my ultimate career and life goal is to work and conduct research in Antarctica.

“Geology is so diverse that for now, I aim to gain as many valuable geological skills and experiences as I can – field work, research, exploration, geochemistry, marine geology research voyages and of course palaeontology," explains Lena.

Geologist and geophysicists career paths includes:

  • mining
  • hydrogeology
  • professional, scientific and technical services
  • electricity, gas, and water services
  • manufacturing.

Environmental studies careers

Environmental studies is an interdisciplinary major in the Faculty of Science that connects science and policy-making about the environment. Graduates with a major in environmental studies are well-positioned for a wide-range of professional roles that involve scientific assessment and policy implementation.

Within Australia, key sites of employment include:

  • national parks authorities
  • catchment management agencies
  • urban and regional planning organisations
  • private consulting firms
  • community-based environmental organisations. 

With a major in environmental studies, you will gain skills relevant to:

  • preparation and review of environmental impact statements
  • understand the legal and ethical issues
  • environmental and resource management
  • perspective on human activities inter-relate with the natural world.

At a time when the impact of humans is causing extreme stress to so many of the processes that ultimately sustain life on this planet, the skills and knowledge obtained by environmental studies graduates has never been more important. 

Rebecca Morris, Phd Graduate

Marine science careers

Marine scientists observe, measure and experiment in marine and coastal environments. During your studies you will gain multidisciplinary knowledge in marine biology and marine geosciences that will make you a highly desirable employee in coastal and marine management and planning. 

Climate change is here, and the coast and the oceans are major hotspots for change. The effects of climate change range from sea level variations, to changes in storm direction and intensity, and these and other processes are triggering major ecological changes such as coral bleaching and the tropicalisation of temperate coasts.

Many of our marine science graduates work in government agencies, federal, state and local, and in consulting companies that seek coastal and marine specialists. Some of our marine science graduates use their skills to successfully pursue careers in other areas. 

What do marine scientists do?

Marine Scientists investigate all kinds of issues and problems on ocean and coasts.

Here are some typical areas of concern:

  • coastal erosion in response to storms, human impact, and climate change
  • urban development changing the geomorphology and ecology of coasts
  • storms are changing direction, frequency and intensity with climate change
  • human influence has wiped out complete ecosystems
  • maximise Blue Carbon in estuaries to reduce global warming
  • open ocean is also changing due to human impacts
  • overfishing is reducing of worldwide stocks of certain fish species
  • oil spills wreak long-term destruction on local ecosystem and biodiversity
  • pesticides and fertilisers has serious consequences on food chains
  • global warming and ocean acidification in coral reefs. 

How much can I earn with a geosciences degree?

As career opportunities span a range of roles and industries, salary trends depend on the area you decide to work. Click through the gallery to see some example salaries for jobs that geosciences graduates enter.

*Salaries taken from Job Outlook in August 2020 based on Australian salary data.

21 August 2020

Geography careers

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Geology and geophysics careers

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Environmental studies careers

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Marine science careers

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