Geochemists study the interaction of earth's minerals and natural compounds with the atmosphere and hydrosphere. While bachelor's degrees are available in this field, most geochemists hold graduate degrees and work in the areas of consulting, research and education. Read this article to learn more about the geochemistry field.
Geochemistry is the scientific study of the earth's chemical elements and natural compounds found in soil, groundwater and other materials. Geochemists study earth's materials to better understand earth's history and composition and then apply that knowledge to a range of environmental problems. For instance, some geochemists investigate the transport of pollutants in the ground in order to minimize environmental contamination. Others are involved in the search for mineral and ore deposits or alternative forms of energy.
Geochemistry is an interdisciplinary scientific field, with degrees typically offered jointly through departments of chemistry and geology. Geochemistry program curricula generally include courses in geochemical modeling, physical chemistry, isotopic geochemistry, microbiology, mineralogy and aqueous geochemistry. Most programs further incorporate laboratory courses that teach students practical skills in computer modeling, data analysis and geographic information systems with field courses for practical training. At the graduate level, students generally complete independent research projects. Graduate school applicants may come from a variety of scientific backgrounds in the natural or earth sciences; however, the majority of schools prefer that applicants have undergraduate degrees in chemistry or geology.
A wide range of professional options exists in this field. Geochemists are often employed as consultants by public or private research institutes, environmental agencies, oil companies and mineral companies. Others may work in education, such as for schools or museums. Geochemists interested in working as researchers or college professors are typically expected to have doctoral degrees and some field research experience. Beyond formal education, geochemists have access to professional development opportunities through such organizations as the Geochemical Society and the Association of Applied Geochemists.
Graduates of geochemistry programs may experience good job prospects and earnings potential. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported above-average job growth for geoscientists and hydrologists, at 18%, between 2008 and 2018 (www.bls.gov). The BLS further expected master's degrees to provide the best job prospects in the field, with the most competitive jobs being in research and college-level teaching. The BLS reported the median annual salary of geoscientists, which includes geochemists, to be $82,500 as of May 2010, with the top ten percent earning over $160,000.
Learn More About Geochemistry
Geochemistry can be studied through undergraduate and graduate degree programs in many U.S. schools. Job opportunities are varied but are largely concentrated in the petroleum and mineral industries, as well as in academia and government. To help make your degree and career decisions and learn more about this field, explore Education-Portal.com.
Geochemistry bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs are available at many schools. In addition, some geoscience, chemistry and geology degree programs offer concentrations in geochemistry. The articles below provide information on related degree programs.
- Bachelor's Degree in Geology
- Degrees in Chemistry by Level
- Degrees in Geoscience by Level
- Degrees in Environmental Geology by Level
- Schools with Geology Degree Programs
Distance Learning Options
Online degrees in geochemistry are rare. However, some schools offer related master's degrees online, such as in chemistry and geotechnical engineering. For-credit and not-for-credit courses in geology and chemistry can also be taken remotely on the Internet.
- Online Master's Degrees in Chemistry
- Online Master's Degree in Geotechnical Engineering
- Online Geology Courses
- Free Online Chemistry Courses
Career opportunities are typically commensurate with education level. Bachelor's degrees may be sufficient for some entry-level positions, such as geoscience technician; however, most geochemists hold master's degrees. Research and teaching jobs at colleges and universities generally require doctoral degrees.
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