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                           Earth Science Careers

In this section you will find information on the following careers:

Agricultural Engineer                                         Agricultural and Food Scientist              Meteorologist                                                     Forester and Conservaiton Worker        

Geographer                                                       Geoscientist

Hydrologist                                                        Survey Researcher


Agricultural and Food Scientist

   Have you ever been on a farm and wondered

how it works to produce so much food? Maybe you

have worked on a farm or a ranch and learned how

knowledge of the processes of growing food or

managing animals produce more food.


   If this sounds interesting to you, read on to find

out what agricultural and food scientists do. Did you

even know this was a career you could have?

What They Do: Agricultural and food scientists work to improve the efficiency and safety of agricultural environments and products. They conduct experiments to learn how to increase productivity of field crops and farm animals to grow more food. They create new food products and better ways to process and package them. They study the composition of soil to find new ways to improve it.

   Agricultural and food scientists work to maintain and expand the nation’s food supply. Improvements allow the same amounts of land to support more crops and animals and allow more food to be available to people.

   These scientists sometimes specialize in one type of agriculture. For example, some focus on farm animals and study reproduction, diseases, cross-breeding and growth rates. Some focus on plants to increase crop yields and to control pests and weeds.


Education/Training: Agricultural and food scientists need at least a bachelor’s degree (a four-year college degree). Students interested in this career study biology, chemistry, botany (study of plants), food chemistry and microbiology. The program of study depends a lot on the specialty of interest. Students who want to specialize in animal agriculture will take different courses than those interested in plant crops.


Salary:  The average wage for agricultural and food scientists is $74,160 per year. The lowest 10% earned less than $44,160 per year and the highest 10% earned more than $128160 per year.

   Wages can vary greatly depending on place of employment. For example, agricultural and food scientists who work in research and development can earn $86,330 per year and those who work in colleges or universities earn about $56,130 per year.

Agricultural Engineer

   Are you interested in a career that involves finding better ways of raising food, studying land farming and forestry or designing new food processing plants and housing for animals? Did you read about careers of agricultural and food scientists and thought that sounded good, but you have always been interested in engineering?


A career in agricultural engineering may be just right for you!


What They Do: Agricultural engineers can work on a

wide variety of projects depending on the job they take.

They develop new and better ways of raising food, they

research land farming and forestry and they investigate

biofuels and create new conservation techniques.


Agricultural engineers test equipment, design food

processing plants and work on environmental and land reclamation. They study and use technological advances to improve food supplies and to design better farming equipment.


   This field has many different areas of specialty. Depending on your interests, you could find a job as an agridultural engineer that fits exactly what you want.


Education/Training: Entry-level agricultural engineer jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree (a four-year college degree). Studies include classes in science, mathematics, and engineering and will include laboratory and field study experiences.

Students interested in agricultural engineering take courses in math, biology, chemistry and physics.

   Agricultural engineers need good problem-solving and math skills. Those that work directly with a public organization must be licensed and must pass an engineering exam.


   Many employers prefer a job applicant with an advanced degree.


Salary:  The average salary for an agricultural engineer is $80,720 per year. The lowest 10% earned less than $47,330 per year and the highest 10% earned more that $160,950 per year.



What They Do:  You have probably checked the

weather forecast to find out if you might have a snow

day from school the next day.  You may have looked

to see if a storm was going to force the cancellation

of your baseball game or you might have had your

picnic ruined because of a sudden thunderstorm.

   To make a forecast, meteorologists study computer models of air masses, maps of cold and warm fronts, and other weather data collected from weather stations and weather balloons. They develop their predictions based on the data they collect and report their predictions to the public.

   They also study data from weather satellites and instruments to make those forecasts that affect our daily activities.

   How many airline flights will be cancelled due to bad weather? When should farmers plant or harvest crops? Will you get the snow day from school tomorrow?  Meteorologists make both short-term and long-range weather predictions.

Meteorologists also report on major weather threats such as hurricanes, tornadoes and flash floods. Their predictions help people prepare for dangerous weather conditions to stay safe.

Are you interested in meteorology?  Read on to find out how you could prepare to be a meteorologist.

Education/Training: Meteorologists need a four-year degree from a college or university in a science subject related to weather. They take courses in meteorology, physics, math, and computer programming.

   Meteorologists who want to work in research usually have higher levels of education, such as master’s degrees or Ph.Ds.


Salary: Meteorologist earn an average wage of $94,110 per year. Their salary depends a lot on where they work. Meteorologists who work for the federal government make about $104,440 per year but those who work in television broadcasting make about $89,240 per year.


Forester and Conservation Worker

   Do you like being outside most of the time? Do you

think you would like working in outside spaces and

taking care of the environment? Consider a career

as a forester!

What They Do: Foresters do many important jobs as

they take care of one of our major natural resources.

They plant seedlings to reforest land, count and

measure trees, spray trees with insecticides to kill

insects, and identify and remove diseased trees.

They also help prevent forest fires.

   Foresters sometimes work in remote locations and

in all types of weather. The work mainly in the

western and southeastern parts of the United

States and where there are national and state


Education/Training: Foresters and conservation

workers need at least a high school diploma and a valid driver’s license before they can work in this career. Some vocational and technical schools and community colleges have two-year degrees in forestry.


   Students study forest management technology, wildlife management, conservation and timber harvesting. They also get on-the-job training from more experienced workers when they begin their job in forestry. They begin doing more routine tasks and as they learn, they perform more complex jobs.

Salary: The average wage for a forest and conservation worker is $31,770 per year. The lowest paid 10% earned less than $22,770 per year while the highest paid 10% earned $46,870 per year.



   Have you always liked studying geography in school? Has it always been one of your favorite subjects?  Read about having a career as a geographer and you will probably find out it is about a lot more than you expected!

What They Do: Geographers study the Earth, it’s landforms,

features and the people who live there. They gather data about

regions through maps, photographs and satellite imagery. They

do field observation to conduct surveys and interviews to find

out more about specific features of the region.

   Geographers use technologies such as GIS (Geographic Information Systems) and GPS (Global Positioning Systems) to analze trends in geographic data. They then use the data to work on various tasks or isses, such as developing marketing strategies, planning for road and highway systems and responding to disasters.


Education/Training: Geographers need at least a bachelor’s

degree (a four-year college degree) for most entry level positions.

To be considered for more advanced positions, geographers

need a master’s degree and work experience. Top research

positions may require a Ph. D.

   Geographers need experience in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Programs of study include physical and human geography, statistics, math and remote sensing. Other courses in business or economics are important if a geographer would want to work in private industries.


Field work and internships are part of the geography coursework.


Salary: The average wage for geographers is $81,540 per year. The lowest 10% earned less than $52,280 per year and the highest 10% earned more than $113, 140 per year.

   Wages vary depending on the place of employment. For example, geographers who work for the federal government earn about $86,850 per year and those who work in state governments earn about $57,860 per year.



   you like learning about rocks in science class?  Do you like finding out how those rocks formed?  Maybe you especially liked studying what causes earthquakes or how we know where to mine for valuable rocks and minerals.

   If you liked these topics, you might want a career in the geosciences which has quite a few specialty careers within it. Read on to find out about this career and how you might work to be a geoscientist one day!

What They Do: Geologists study physical components of

the Earth, such as structures and processes to learn

about the past and present and possibly, the future.

Geoscientists work in field studies to collect samples.

They analyze rock samples, conduct laboratory tests and

make geologic maps and charts from their findings.


   Geoscientists have very interesting careers. They may be chopping away at rock samples one day and using radar equipment the next day to look for oil deposits. They may use x-rays and geographic information systems (GIS) software to analyze the data collected.

   Petroleum geoscientists look for and development natural resources, such as petroleum and oil reserves. Others may work to reclaim land after mining activities.

Oceanographers are geoscientists who study ocean waters, including the circulation of waters and the physical chemical properties of oceans. Paleontologists study fossils found in geological formations. olcanoloss study earthquakes.


   There is a geoscience career for a wide variety of interests!


Education/Training: Geoscientists need at least a 4-year

college degree to begin their career, but many start out with

a master’s degree.  Some positions require this advanced

degree.  Research positions may require a Ph.D degree.


   Although geoscientists do not have to be licensed in all

U. S. states, those that provide services to the public must be licensed. Any position with a civil engineering project or involving environmental protection require the geoscientist to be licensed.


Salary: The average salary for a geoscientist is $91,130 per year, but that varies with place of employment. Those geoscientists who work in mining and oil and gas extraction earn about $125,630 per year while those who work at colleges and universities earn about $71,090 per year.



What They Do:  Hydrologists study water

movements over and through the Earth’s crust.

They study how all forms of precipitation such as

rain, snow, and ice affect our groundwater and

rivers and streams. They also study how the water

evaporates and influences the oceans.

   Hydrologists measure the properties of bodies of

water, collect water and soil samples, research ways to treat the effects of pollution, erosion and drought, and use computer models to predict future water supplies.


Education/Training: Hydrologists need at least a bachelor’s degree (4-year college degree). Some hydrologists have advanced degrees; researchers and university faculty positions require a Ph.D.

   Most universities do not have specific degrees in hydrology. Students wanting to be hydrologists usually get degrees in the geosciences or earth sciences. They may also study economics, environmental law, or governmental policy in order to better communicate with policymakers and government officials.

Salary:  The average wage for hydrologists is $81,270 per year. The lowest 10% earned less than $51,220 and the highest 10% earned more than $127, 400 per year.


Wages depend on the place of employment. Hydrologists who work in scientific or technical consulting firms earn $93,820 per year while those working in state governments positions earn $68,690 per year.


Survey Researcher

   Do you like working with numbers? Do you like using numbers and data to figure out problems? Being a survey researcher may be the career for you!

What They Do: Survey researchers create surveys

(questions that find answers) to collect data. They analyze

the data to identify trends, answer questions, or

understand opinions.

   To obtain the data and information, survey researchers

conduct background research, supervise collecting the data, and summarize the results so other people can understand them.

   As a survey researcher, you could work for a wide variety of government, public, or private groups and colleges and universities. For example, disease survey researchers often travel around the world to collect data from people and report information about drug use, disease, vaccinations and health habits.

Education/Training: Survey researchers must have at least

a four-year college degree but most jobs require a master’s

(advanced) degree. In college, survey researchers study

business, marketing, psychology, and sociology as well as

mathematics and statistics. Most also take an exam to be

certified because it can lead to increased employment


Salary: The average wage for survey researchers is about $59,170 per year. The lowest 10% earned less than $32,150 per year and the highest 10% earned more than $108,860 per year. Wages vary according to place of employment.






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