What can I do with a degree in Geology?

© Courtesy of Matt Guiang (Study Abroad student 2014) on a Geology field trip to Castle Hill

Geology in the twenty-first century is a fascinating, diverse and multidisciplinary subject and New Zealand is one of the best places on Earth to study geological processes relating to plate tectonics, and for climate change research. Geologists also search for the natural resources which sustain our technological society, not least of all, water.

The construction of buildings, bridges, roads, dams and reservoirs requires geological expertise in the investigation of foundations.

Through their Geology degree, graduates gain a valuable set of transferable skills such as:

  • Scientific analysis of the outdoors
  • Independent thinking
  • Critically assessing and synthesising literature and data
  • Capacity to think creatively, logically and quantitatively
  • Oral and written communication
  • Planning and organisation skills
  • Teamwork and leadership.

Opportunities to apply your learning outside the classroom are available in this major, through field courses and trips that utilise UC field stations at Cass, Harihari and Westport. Such experiences deepen your skillset, awareness of others, working knowledge and employability.

Geology graduates are employed in national and local government, planning and conservation, teaching and research, mining and petroleum industries, museums and science centres, energy companies, consulting and engineering firms, research institutes and exploration firms.

Recent UC graduates have been employed by:

  • Professional engineering and geotechnical engineering consultancies eg, Pells Sullivan Meynink, Pattle Delamore Partners, Opus International, ENGEO Ltd, Coffey Geotechnics, KGA Geotechnical
  • Government eg, Environment Canterbury, Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, regional councils, North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery
  • Geological, geophysical and environmental consultancies eg, Geological Solutions, Southern Geophysical Ltd, CRL Energy, Geos Mining Mineral Consultants
  • Engineering contractors eg, Fulton Hogan, Downer
  • Energy companies eg, Mercury Energy Ltd
  • Natural resources exploration and production eg, Vermilion Energy, Oceanagold Corporation, Terra Search, BHP Billiton, Orica Mining Services, Baker Hughes, Laneway Resources
  • Research institutes eg, GNS Science, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research
  • Software eg, ARANZ Geo, International Earth Sciences IESE Ltd
  • Agriculture eg, Agri Optics NZ
  • Secondary schools.

Geology graduates monitor and assess hazards such as volcanoes, earthquakes, landslides and tsunamis, and play a vital role in land planning and assessing environmental impact, and hazard and disaster risk and resilience.
Geoscientists also search for the natural resources which sustain our society, including water. The construction of buildings, bridges, roads, dams and reservoirs requires geological expertise in the investigation of foundations.

Some specific geoscience jobs are listed below.

Note: Some of the jobs listed may require postgraduate study. See the ‘Further study’ section.

Engineering geologist

  • Conducts field investigations
  • Advises on site selection using geological maps, aerial imagery and remote sensing
  • Uses specialised software to assess ground suitability
  • Provides advice on construction materials and materials testing

Natural hazards analyst

  • Carries out site-specific hazard and risk assessment
  • Gathers and maintains natural hazards data
  • Advises relevant managers and local authorities

Environmental scientist

  • Develops scientific solutions to environmental problems in land and water use
  • Carries out field and lab tests, records data
  • Conducts analysis and writes technical reports
  • Interprets regulations and monitors compliance

Mining geologist

  • Tests ore blending and block modelling
  • Facilitates grade control programmes
  • Liaises with engineers and managers

Petroleum geologist

  • Carries out research to find natural resources
  • Collects geological information on site
  • Interprets geological data for petroleum exploration and resource assessment
  • Plans and coordinates drilling

Geophysicist, field seismologist

  • Locates seismic equipment to investigate subsurface geology and earthquake seismicity
  • Analyses geological and seismological data and writes reports

Soil technician

  • Monitors, collects and tests soil samples
  • Analyses soil data and writes reports

Field / laboratory technician

  • Plans and carries out research experiments in the lab and the field
  • Maintains/calibrates field or lab equipment
  • Liaises with scientists and industry personnel
  • Collects and collates data, and drafts reports

Project manager / coordinator

  • Manages a project plan, budget and schedule
  • Supervises project progress and manages risks
  • Liaises with project staff and clients

Entrepreneur and CEO

  • Develops an idea to form their own business
  • Offers their services as a consultant

Get started with Entrepreneurship here

As they progress in their studies and into a career, our students and graduates often join professional bodies specific to their area of interest. These organisations offer graduates the opportunity to network and collaborate with others within the same community. Other relevant organisations are also listed below.

Social media networks, such as LinkedIn (including LinkedIn groups), Facebook and Twitter can provide avenues for students and graduates to keep up-to-date with current industry knowledge and ‘best practice’, networking opportunities, industry-related events and job vacancies.

Learn from our students' experiences

For more information

see the Geology subject page