geologist geophysicist
Animals, land and environment

Career outlook for geoscientist

UK Salary Ranges





Currently employed in Scotland


Salary information is provided by the "National Careers Service". "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would study the structure of the Earth and investigate mineral and energy resources. You’d do research to find ways to protect people who live in places with volcanoes and earthquakes.

You’d research how the planet was formed and shaped over time.

Depending what kind of project you work on, you would:

  • Check if ground is suitable for engineering projects like building dams or tunnels
  • Advise on suitable sites for landfill or storage of nuclear waste
  • Search for energy resources and minerals like oil and gas
  • Search for new water supplies
  • Study volcanoes and earthquakes to develop early warning systems for nearby communities

You’d use a range of methods for the investigations including:

  • Drilling
  • Seismic surveying
  • Satellite and aerial imagery
  • Electromagnetic measurement

It will be important to have good observation skills. You’d also need to work with a lot of statistical and graphical information.

This is a broad field of work, so you could specialise in:

  • Geophysics
  • Environmental geology
  • Natural hazards
  • Energy resources
  • Mining and extraction

Working conditions


Your hours of work would depend on the sector you work in. Some jobs could involve working 9am to 5pm in an office or laboratory. In other areas like drilling or testing, you may work longer hours and have a more irregular schedule. If you were based on an oil rig, you would spend several weeks on an offshore platform, followed by the same amount of time onshore, as leave.


This type of work could be physically demanding, depending on the project and conditions.


Fieldwork and research trips could involve working in the UK or in other parts of the world such as Iceland, Australia or New Zealand. You need to be willing to travel and be away from home for long periods.

UK employment status





Self employed


Create a qualification route

We've found some examples of the qualifications that could help you get this job.

Discover my route

Search course options

Thinking about your future? There are lots of courses available that could interest you. Use our course search to explore course options.

Find courses

Search job opportunities

If you're looking for your new career our job search can help you. Discover interesting opportunities and decide your next steps.

Find a job

Here are some of the skills needed for this job. Sign in to see how your skills match up.

  • Cooperating
  • Verbal communication
  • Written communication
  • Problem solving
  • Observation
  • Researching
  • Attention to detail
  • Developing a plan
  • Taking initiative
  • Analysing

Skills Explorer

Your skills can help you choose the career that's right for you. You can build your skills through work, study or activities you do in your spare time.

Our Skills Explorer tool will help you understand what skills you have and match them to jobs that might suit you.

Use the Skills Explorer tool

Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.


You would need a degree (SCQF level 9/10) or postgraduate qualification (SCQF level 11) in a relevant subject, such as

  • Geology
  • Geosciences
  • Earth science
  • Geology
  • Geophysics
  • Petroleum geology
  • Exploration geology

To enter a relevant degree requires at least four Highers at AAAA (SCQF level 6) or relevant HND (SCQF level 8).

To enter a postgraduate MSc or PhD usually requires an honours degree (SCQF level 10) in a relevant subject such as geophysics, maths, physics, computing or geology, and experience.

It is becoming more common for applicants to geoscience to already hold or be working towards postgraduate qualifications such as an MSc or PhD (SCQF level 11/12).

You can find courses accredited by the Geological Society on its website. 

Useful subjects

Most courses require

  • Maths
  • Science subjects such as physics, chemistry, biology, enviromental science

Other useful subjects: 

  • English
  • Geography
  • Modern languages