Greg Corbett,

Geologists, or geoscientists, study the makeup of the physical earth and processes of growth and decay to learn about the past and make inferences about the future.


When you spend time out in the field collecting samples, mapping areas or charting the composition of particular sites, it’s essential to have a keen sense of observation. You must notice key features of the environment quickly and effectively and take in a lot of information as you survey sites and determine what samples are needed. Geologists need to do initial surveys, and, based on findings, determine a plan of action for further investigation. What you initially notice is very important, because determines whether sites are examined further and what resources are devoted to those further studies.


Geologists make meaningful analyses of findings. To perform an effective analysis, you need to have a solid background in several interlocking disciplines, such as math, physics and biology. Geologists formulate questions on the basis of scientific method and do experimentation and investigation to find answers. After you identify key features of a particular site or experiment, you then must determine what your findings mean in a broader sense. In other words, you need to understand what the results of experiments mean for the field as a whole and how they apply practically to future endeavors.


Many geologists spend far more time in the lab than out in the field. Sometimes, samples and data collected from a particular site needs to be researched, observed and experimented with for many years. Since geology is a lab-oriented discipline, you need to have an intimate understanding and a highly developed craft when it comes to operating lab machinery, such as microscopes and advanced computer programs. In addition to having a thorough knowledge of how to use the equipment, you’ll also need to know how to maintain it and understand its inner workings and processes.


You’ll often need to complete grant applications and be prepared to work for a variety of clients with different agendas. Geologists often get funding from private companies, industry associations, research centers and government organizations so effective writing skills are tantamount to your success. Additionally, you need to develop your interpersonal and diplomacy skills because you will inevitably work with a variety of different clients with varying communication needs and styles. For example, you might contract with a petroleum company trying to weigh the costs and benefits of drilling in a particular location for one project while working with a government agency to determine how risky it is to build housing in a certain area to determine real estate regulations. Public speaking skills also are important so can effectively present your work to large association meetings to build and sustain your professional reputation.

This article was written  by Linda Ray,

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Elliott said... July 23, 2016 at 10:34 PM

You also need to observe nature. Certain trees only grow wher the topsoil is thick, and others grow where it is thin. In the east, I've been able to use aerial photos to locate outcrops by observing wher hemlocks are growing. Saves time.

Don said... July 24, 2016 at 9:08 PM

From the Geologist entry of the Uncyclopedia

How to spot a Geologist

A fully-grown geologist.
To spot a geologist in the wild, look for:
Someone with over enthusiasm on the subject of dinosaurs and who cringes when a dinosaur is called a reptile.
Someone explaining to airport security that a sidewall core covered in gunpowder residue isn't really a weapon.
Someone who only includes people in photos for scale, and has more pictures of his/her rock hammer and lens caps than of family and friends. Especially *Someone who uses their new baby for scale (Oh God..the horror!)
Someone lighting a cigarette with a handlens focussing the sunlight, or a coat hanger stretched between the battery terminals of a University van.
Someone explaining to airport security that just because his/her safety boots are covered in high-explosive (usually ANFEX) residue, it doesn't mean he/she is a terrorist
Someone who will willingly cross an eight-lane interstate on foot to determine if the outcrops are the same on both sides.
Someone who can pronounce the word molybdenite correctly on the first try.
Someone who has hiked 6 miles to look at a broken fence that was "offset by a recent earthquake".
Someone who says "this will make a nice Christmas gift" while out rock collecting.
Someone who looks at scenery and tells you how it formed.
Someone who, when on a beach, will collect shells and try to explain their muscle scars to you.
Someone who knows the phylum, kingdom, and genus of every ancient creature lodged in stone, some of which look nothing like an animal, but can't remember his/her mother's, or spouse's, birthday.
Someone who modifies his/her pace to one meter in order to simplify pace-and-compass mapping.
Someone who walks out of a bathroom and asks if you noticed the fossils in the stall dividers.
Someone whose sentences begin with the phrase, "Let me tell you what happened here."
Someone who can say, "Gneiss Cleavage" or talks about slaty cleavage and means it in a non-derogatory sense.
Someone who gets really upset when the countertop, which is obviously mafic/aphanitic/metamorphic, is called granite and takes 20 minutes to tell you why you're wrong.
Someone who scoffs when they see your compass doesn't have a clinometer as standard.
Someone who has a holster for their rock hammer.