Exploration geologist: job description

Exploration geologists use data and investigative techniques to predict where mineral deposits, oil, gas, water and other natural resources can be found under the earth’s surface.

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What does an exploration geologist do? | Graduate salaries | Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Exploration geologists identify where minerals could be located, and assess their quality and quantity so that decisions can be made about whether and how to extract them. Geologists’ work tends to be split between practical tasks on sites and desk-based analysis and mapping.

Typical duties include:

  • planning site exploration programmes
  • surveying and mapping sites
  • collecting and analysing samples and data
  • investigating safety risks on extraction sites
  • preparing and presenting reports.

Graduate salaries

Graduates are likely to start on salaries of around £28,000. If you have higher qualifications, such as a masters or a PhD, you’re likely to earn more. Employers in the energy sector tend to offer the highest salaries.

Typical employers of exploration geologists

  • Oil and gas companies.
  • Mining companies.
  • Research organisations such as the British Geological Survey or the Geological Society.
  • Specialist consultancies.

It’s common for exploration geologists to become self-employed when they have gained enough experience. Whether you are working for yourself or an employer, you’re likely to need to travel widely.

There’s strong competition for vacancies, so geological experience is essential. This can be voluntary or paid. Jobs are advertised on targetjobs.co.uk (search by keyword or sector), national newspapers’ websites, on employers’ sites and by organisations such as The Geological Society.

Browse our CV and templates for tips on how to present your skills and experience to geological employers .

Qualifications and training required

To become an exploration geologist, you must have a degree in a relevant subject such as geology, geophysics, geosciences or earth science. Some employers also expect a relevant postgraduate qualification in a specific area of geology or geoscience, such as hydrogeology or petroleum geoscience.

The job carries a high level of responsibility as information needs to be accurate and people need to work safely. This means that ongoing training is essential. Once you have sufficient qualifications and experience, you can apply for chartered geologist status with the Geological Society. This provides opportunities for continuing professional development and will help to keep your knowledge up to date.

Key skills for exploration geologists

  • Knowledge of a range of sciences and their applications.
  • The ability to work within a multidisciplinary team of scientists and engineers.
  • Organisational skills.
  • Advanced digital literacy and the ability to analyse numerical and graphical data.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • The ability to solve problems and think on your feet.

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