Employment Prospects


Approximately 31,000 geoscientists (including geophysicists) and 6,700 hydrologists are employed in the United States. About 27 percent of all geoscientists work in Texas. Geophysicists are employed primarily by the petroleum industry, mining companies, exploration and consulting firms, and research institutions. Some geophysicists work as consultants, offering their services on a fee or contract basis. Many work for the federal government, mainly the National Geodetic Survey, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the Naval Oceanographic Office. Other geophysicists pursue teaching careers.

Starting Out

Most college career services offices are prepared to help students locate positions in business, industry, and government agencies and provide helpful information on career paths in geophysics. Other job contacts can be made through professors, friends, and relatives. Some companies visit college campuses in the spring of each year to interview candidates who are interested in positions as geophysicists. Additionally, some associations, such as the Seismological Society of America, offer job listings at their Web sites.

If you seek employment in the federal government you will have to take a civil service examination and be able to meet other specified requirements. Visit for job opportunities with the federal government.

Advancement Prospects

If employed by a private firm, a new employee with only a bachelor's degree will probably have an on-the-job training period. As a company trainee, the beginning geophysicist may be assigned to a number of different jobs. On a field party, the trainee will probably work with a junior geophysicist, which in many companies is the level of assignment received after the training has ended.

From a junior geophysicist, advancement is usually to intermediate geophysicist, and eventually to geophysicist. From this point, one can transfer to research positions or, if the geophysicist remains in fieldwork, to party chief.

The party chief coordinates the work of people in a crew, including trainees; junior, intermediate, and full geophysicists; surveyors; observers; drillers; shooters; and aides. Advancement with the company may eventually lead to supervisory and management positions.

Geophysicists can often transfer to other jobs in the fields of geology, physics, and engineering, depending on their qualifications and experience.

Tips for Entry

To learn more about this field, read:

  • Geophysical Research Letters and Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems (both available at
  • Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America (
  • The Leading Edge (

Join professional associations such as the American Geophysical Union and the Society of Exploration Geophysicists to access training and networking resources, industry publications, and employment opportunities.

Visit the following Web sites for job listings: