An associate degree in geology takes about two years to complete and helps you gain knowledge in earth science, minerals and seismology. There are many positions you can pursue with an associate degree, from GIS technician to cartographer. If you’re considering an associate degree in geology, learning more about what it is and the steps you can follow to earn one can be beneficial.
In this article, we explain what an associate degree in geology is, list five jobs you can get with one, describe the steps you can follow to earn one and review tips for graduating.
What is an associate degree in geology?
An associate degree in geology is a credential that shows a person’s knowledge and expertise in geology. Associate degrees usually take about two years to complete, though they can take more or less depending on the student. Geology associate degrees focus on earth science, physics and technologies. Those who earn an associate degree in geology can work with private institutions and with the government to survey land and natural resources.
5 jobs for those with an associate degree in geology
After completing your associate in geology, you may enter the workforce or consider advanced degrees. Working in an entry-level position before pursuing grad school can improve your skills and understanding of geology-related jobs and their responsibilities.
Here are five jobs you may consider if you have an associate degree in geology. For the most current salary information from Indeed, click on the links.
1. GIS technician
National average salary: $36,708 per year
Primary duties: GIS technicians gather, input and manage data within the GIS and allow professionals to access land data. GIS stands for Geographic Information Systems, and these are programs that can read and interpret maps. Those with a geology degree can contribute to the maintenance and operation of these systems.
2. Research assistant
National average salary: $39,971 per year
Primary duties: Research assistants work with teams of researchers to complete analyses, develop theories and create new technologies. Geologist research assistants focus on the formation, structure and effects of rocks and sediment. They can study geological history to understand potential future events like eruptions, floods and other natural disasters.
3. Petroleum supply specialist
National average salary: $47,069 per year
Primary duties: A petroleum supply specialist assists other professionals in working with natural resources and gathering information about drilling and extraction. They can analyze the effects of petroleum operations on the environment. Many specialists choose to work either in the field or in a laboratory setting.
4. Geospatial analyst
National average salary: $48,496 per year
Primary duties: Geospatial analysts use spatial analysis and mapping to determine the causes of geological and geographical problems. They use the information to suggest solutions for remedying these problems. The analysts also use the information to create visual representations of many datasets, including demographics, health, social spaces and economics.
National average salary: $66,270 per year
Primary duties: A cartographer is a professional who gathers information and creates maps. They can use satellite technology and location surveys to create maps for technology and in atlases. They can work with the government to assist with city planning and landscape design. Cartographers combine art, technology and science to accurately represent locations and landmasses.
How to earn an associate degree in geology
Depending on your career goals and situation, you may take distinct steps to earn your degree. Some students choose to use their associate degree to complete a bachelor’s, while others join the workforce. These are steps you can follow to earn an associate degree in geology:
1. Earn your high school diploma or equivalent
If you are a high school student, graduating and earning your diploma is the first step to earning your geology degree. You can focus on geography and science classes and collaborate with your teachers and counselors to determine which school is best for you. During this time, you can also apply for scholarships to help with the financial aspects of attending school. If you’re not in high school, you can pursue a diploma equivalent prior to applying for admission.
2. Choose a college with a geology program
It’s important to choose a community college or trade school that has a geology program. You can research schools online and choose several that you like. Consider where they’re located, how much they cost, financial and social support they offer, instructors and staff, residence options and curriculum.
3. Apply and enroll in classes for your degree
Once you determine which trade schools or community colleges suit you best, complete and submit your applications. Applications usually include contact information, your transcripts, essays and reference letters. It’s a good idea to apply to several colleges to increase your admissions chances. After receiving your acceptance, you can choose a school, complete orientation and enroll in courses.
4. Develop relationships with peers, instructors and professors
It’s important to meet frequently with your advisor to ensure you’re completing courses on time. You can also create and maintain relationships with your instructors and classmates. Following graduation, instructors can offer reference letters or employment opportunities. Communicating and collaborating with your peers also allows you to develop your professional network.
5. Consider more advanced education and degrees
After completing your associate degree, you may enter the workforce or choose to pursue a bachelor’s degree. Assess your career goals and determine if a university or four-year education can help you progress toward the job you want. Depending on the geology work you want to do, you may also choose to complete additional certifications or educational programs to support your knowledge and express your competency.
Salary and job outlook for geology careers
How much a geology professional can earn depends on their education, skills, experience and position. The national average salary for a geologist is $83,741 per year, but you may make more if you choose a management position or complete advanced degrees. Other factors, like location, can also affect how much a geologist earns. For example, the highest-paying city for geologists is Houston, Texas, where they can earn an average of $117,717 per year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the geoscience field may grow by 7% from 2020 to 2030, gaining 2,000 jobs and expanding at the average rate.
Tips for earning an associate degree in geology
You can use these helpful tips for earning an associate degree in geology:
Develop studying strategies. During high school and before starting college, you can develop studying strategies that allow you to study and learn productively. For example, note-taking, review, self-testing and flashcards are all studying strategies you can use to learn more effectively.
Research geology career opportunities. While in college, you can study geology career opportunities by speaking with your adviser, complete job shadows and researching information about different jobs you can do with your degree. This can help you prepare for your career and determine how to plan your education.
Create and attend study groups. A study group is a collection of students who meet outside of class to go over notes and work on projects together. Joining a study group can help you stay accountable and receive help with information you don’t understand.
Complete geology internships. Internships and apprenticeships are opportunities in which you can gain experience in the field you wish to work in. Some internships pay their interns, while others offer college credit, experience and networking opportunities.