If you would enjoy working in the world of minerals, soils, rocks and fossils, consider a career as a mineralogist. Mineralogists analyze and interpret geological data using computer software and study Earth's composition. They fall under the category of geoscientists. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that geoscientists earned an average salary of $82,500 in May 2010. This field is expected to grow by 21 percent through 2020.
First, you'll need a bachelor's degree in a science-related area such as geosciences or Earth science for entry-level positions. If research and teaching interest you, a Ph.D is required. Many employers want you to have experience working in the field through internships and jobs. You can learn more about minerals by visiting national history museums and attending gem and mineral shows.
No day is typical in this type of job. One day, you are conducting geological surveys and measuring characteristics of the Earth using equipment such as seismographs. On the next day, you could be providing guidance to construction companies and the government on road construction and land use. Mineralogists also inspect construction projects to analyze engineering concerns by using test equipment and drilling tools. Another major task is identifying risks for natural disasters including mud slides, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
You should have a strong background in science for this position. Other key skills include extensive knowledge of geography and math. You should have good critical thinking skills to evaluate data while in the field and use research for written reports. You should also be comfortable with technology commonly used for creating geological maps and analyzing data. Since there are many team projects, you must be comfortable working in a team environment, especially on field trips.
The Mineralogical Society of America reports that the majority of mineralogists teach at universities. They also work for the government, engineering firms, and mining and management companies. On a routine day, they split time between working in the field, the lab and in offices. This job is definitely for an "outdoors" type of woman. Fieldwork can take you to remote locations all over the world, including forests and parks. Mineralogists can also be found working as museum curators and in national laboratories.
2016 Salary Information for Geoscientists
Geoscientists earned a median annual salary of $89,780 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, geoscientists earned a 25th percentile salary of $62,830, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $127,620, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 32,000 people were employed in the U.S. as geoscientists.
Dachell McSween has contributed to the "New York Daily News" and "Black Enterprise Magazine." She also writes for various online publications. McSween received a B.A. in journalism from Pace University and an M.S. in publishing from New York University.