How to become a Geologist

Geologists study the nature, composition and structure of the earth to locate materials and minerals, and to increase scientific knowledge. They also advise on the extraction of minerals, as well as on environmental protection, the rehabilitation of land after mining and on civil engineering projects.

Personal requirements of a Geologist

  • Enjoy technical and scientific activities
  • Willing to adhere to safety requirements
  • Able to work independently or as part of a team
  • Able to prepare accurate records and reports
  • Able to cope with the physical demands of the job
  • Prepared to work outdoors in a range of environments and on irregular schedules

Education & Training for a Geologist

To become a geologist you usually have to complete a degree in science or applied science with a major in geology, geoscience, applied geology, geophysics or earth sciences. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English, mathematics, chemistry, earth and environmental science, physics and biology are normally required. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information.

Additional Information

Formal training is followed by continuous vocational training throughout your working life to enhance skills in business, computing, management and technical knowledge. After a qualifying period, graduates may be eligible for membership of the Geological Society of Australia, Australian Institute of Geoscientists and/or the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy.

Duties & Tasks of a Geologist


  • explore specific areas of the earth to determine its structure and the types of rocks or minerals that are present
  • study rock cores, cuttings and samples
  • study geostatistics and sampling theory
  • study fossilised life forms and date rock strata
  • study the nature and effects of natural events such as erosion, sedimentation, glaciation, earthquakes and volcanic hazards
  • locate and manage groundwater resources, investigate groundwater contamination and land salinity
  • undertake geochemical sampling of stream sediment and soils
  • undertake ground or airborne magnetic, gravity and other geophysical surveys
  • examine geological specimens in laboratories using optical and electron microscopes, X-ray diffraction and other electronic, chemical and mechanical techniques
  • advise on determining the economic viability of extracting earth resources
  • advise on the geological suitability of sites for structures such as tunnels, roads, coastal installations, bridges and water supply schemes
  • contribute information about land use, planning and rehabilitation, and the effects of pollution on seabeds to environmental assessments
  • use computers to integrate and interpret data sets of geological information
  • prepare geological models to describe processes and predict future situations
  • prepare geological reports and maps.

Working conditions for a Geologist

Geologists work in laboratories, offices and in the field. They may work independently or as members of a mixed team of professional and non-professional staff. They may have contact with the public, especially if needing permission to go onto private land. Fieldwork can involve spending time in remote desert, tropical or Antarctic/Arctic regions. The hours of work can be irregular and it may be necessary to spend long periods away from home.

Employment Opportunities for a Geologist

Geologists work for mining and petroleum companies involved in the exploration, extraction and production of minerals and hydrocarbons; geological, engineering and environmental consultancy firms; geological survey organisations; and state, territory and federal government departments. Employment opportunities also exist in the securities industry and financial sector where geologists are employed as industry analysts and/or advise on the economic viability of particular mining projects. Geologists may progress to exploration managers and company managers or directors. They are highly mobile, both within Australia and internationally. There are some opportunities for self-employment.

Avg. weekly wage:


Future growth:

Very strong

Employment by state:

ACT 2.1%

NSW 12.7%

NT 1.6%

QLD 18.3%

SA 10.4%

TAS 1.1%

VIC 19%

WA 34.9%

Hours worked:



Lower unemployment

Gender split:

Male 73%

Female 27%

Education level:

Highest qualification is secondary school: 1.1%

Highest qualification is a Diploma or Advanced Diploma: 0.5%

Highest qualification is a Bachelor degree: 39.4%

Highest qualification is a Postgraduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate: 59%

Age brackets:

15-19 - 0.1%

20-24 - 6.1%

25-34 - 26.8%

35-44 - 22.6%

45-54 - 19.5%

55-59 - 8.2%

60-64 - 7.1%

65 and Over - 9.5%

*The data above is sourced from the Department of Employment’s Job Outlook website.

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