Career Guide to JMU Majors: Geology
Environmental and Engineering Geology
Admission and Progression Standards:
Visit the Major Snapshots site to learn more about the admission and progression standards of this major.
Description of Major
Geology is offered as a major and minor at JMU through the Department of Geology and
Environmental Sciences. The major in Geology presents a high quality program of specialized study focusing on earth materials, internal and external earth processes, analysis of earth history and appreciation of geology to environmental and engineering issues. The Geology program provides a strong theoretical background in geology while allowing the student flexibility in choosing courses to prepare for a specific career in the geological sciences. Geology majors are prepared to collect data in the field and laboratory on minerals, rocks, fossils, landforms and structures; properly use field and laboratory equipment; and construct accurate geologic maps and displays of geologic data. Geology majors are also able to use geologic data to write interpretive geological reports and histories of regions, solve environmental and economic geological problems, and critically evaluate the theories and conclusions of other geologists. The department also offers a BA in Earth Science.
Tell me more about this field of study
Geology is the study of the Earth. The composition, structure and interior processes of the Earth are fundamental to all areas of geology. Time and the evolution of the Earth and life on Earth are unique aspects of science. The study of Earth surface processes has recently become one of the most dynamic sub-disciplines. Surface processes are the processes that alter the surface of the Earth, produce the landscape, and control the distribution of water and soil resources. The Earth as a life support system and the limitations of the earth are evolving as major areas of effort for geologists. Geoscience is the science of exploration, discovery, and Earth stewardship. The geosciences address all issues relating to Earth Systems, including the solid Earth, oceans, and atmosphere. The major applications of the geosciences are: exploration and responsible development of natural resources (oil, gas, coal, minerals, construction aggregate, water, soil), preservation of the natural environment, restoration from environmental damage, mitigation of geohazards such as earthquakes and landslides, and exploratory research like the Mars space mission and understanding El Niño. By addressing these issues and developing solutions to problems affecting the Earth, geoscientists act as stewards of the Earth. Though much has been learned about the Earth through earth science, much more is yet to be discovered, especially as new problems face society, such as global climate change, advances in technology, and exhaustion of energy and raw material supplies.
Tell me more about specialization
The field of geology like other scientific disciplines has grown so vast that no individual can function at the cutting edge of all aspects of the science. Consequently, virtually all geologists specialize in one or two sub-disciplines. While the total number of areas of specialization is quite large, most geologic effort is focused in a few areas. Some of the more important of these are: fuels geology (mainly petroleum and natural gas exploration), geohydrology, environmental geology, regional studies, soils, engineering geology, sedimentary systems, geophysics, and mineralogy.
Common majors or minors that complement this major
Geology majors commonly acquire minors in Anthropology, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Environmental Management, Environmental Studies, Geographic Studies, Integrated Science and Technology, Mathematics, Materials Science, Physics, or Urban and Regional Studies.
Our students are exposed to a greater variety of geologic sub-disciplines than most undergraduates. Enthusiasm for the subject, their clarity of expression on paper and in speech, ability to work well with other people, self-sufficiency, physical fitness and emphasis on the quantitative aspects of the science and report writing has added greatly to their success.
Many graduates choose typical career paths associated with this major. However, some graduates choose nontraditional career fields that utilize skills and experiences developed during their years in college. Keep in mind, that some fields will require graduate study or further training. The listing below offers examples of possible career paths and is not meant to be comprehensive.
Who employs graduates?
School Systems (K-12), Bureau of Land Management (Fed Gov), Bureau of Mines (Fed Gov), Coal Companies, Colleges/Universities, Construction Firms, Department of Defense (Fed Gov), Department of Energy (Fed Gov), Environmental Agencies, Environmental Protection Agency (Fed Gov), Equipment Suppliers, Federal/State/Local Government Agencies, Independent Drilling Companies, Mining Companies, Museums, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (Fed Gov), National Laboratories, Petroleum Companies, Oil/Gas Companies, Quarries, Railroad Companies, Research Firms, US Geological Survey (Fed Gov), or Well Drilling Services Companies.
Practicum, internships, and other forms of individual study are available to all students majoring in Geology. Students should contact faculty coordinators in their areas of interest to gain further information.
What are JMU graduates doing with this major?
A Day in the Life of a Geologist
Careers in Geology
Careers in Geosciences
Environmental Scientists and Specialists
Geotimes – Geology Careers & Profiles
A broad range of resources on career fields, internships, and job search information is also available in the Career & Academic Planning Resource Center.
Make an appointment with a CAP career counselor to learn more about this major and your career options.
A few titles from our Resource Center related to this field include:
© Career & Academic Planning, James Madison University, 2013