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Preparation
A bachelor's degree is adequate for a few entry-level positions, but most geoscientists and hydrologists need a master's degree, which is the preferred educational requirement for most research positions in private industry, Federal agencies, and State geological surveys. A Ph.D. is necessary for most high-level research and college teaching positions, but is generally not required for other jobs. Professional Science Master's degrees in the area of Geologial Sciences is another option.

Geoscience Departments
There are over 800 hundred geoscience programs offered throughout the United States. Some universities have more than one program, with each housed in a different department. According to the American Geological Institute, the number of students enrolled in the geosciences in US colleges and universities is about 19000 undergraduates and 8000 graduate students.  AGI manages a web-based listing of U.S. geoscience departments.

Professional Science Masters
A Professional Science Master's (PSM) is an reasonably new (about a decade old) graduate degree designed to allow students to pursue advanced training in science or mathematics, while simultaneously developing workplace skills highly valued by employers. The programs are developed in concert with employers and are designed to dovetail into present and future professional career opportunities. They are designed to allow students to pursue advanced training and excel in science without a Ph.D., while simultaneously developing highly-valued business skills without an MBA. A current listing PSMs related to fields in the Geological Science is available here.

Undergraduate Courses
Traditional geoscience courses emphasizing classical geologic methods and topics (such as mineralogy, petrology, paleontology, stratigraphy, and structural geology) are important for all geoscientists. People who study physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, engineering, or computer science may also qualify for some geoscience positions if their course work includes geology. Most universities do not offer degrees in hydrology, but instead offer concentrations in hydrology or water studies in their geoscience, environmental science, or engineering departments. Students interested in hydrology should take courses in the physical sciences, geophysics, chemistry, engineering science, soil science, mathematics, aquatic biology, atmospheric science, geology, oceanography, hydrogeology, and the management or conservation of water resources.

Appropriate Skills
Computer skills are essential for prospective geoscientists and hydrologists; students who have experience with computer modeling, data analysis and integration, digital mapping, remote sensing, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) will be the most prepared entering the job market. Knowledge of the Global Positioning System (GPS) -- a locator system that uses satellites -- has also become essential. Some employers seek applicants with field experience, so a summer internship is often helpful.

Because geoscientists and hydrologists usually work as part of a team with other geoscientists and with environmental scientists, engineers, and technicians, they must have good interpersonal skills. Strong oral and written communication skills also are important because writing technical reports and research proposals and explaining research results in person are important aspects of the work. Some jobs, particularly for petroleum geologists, require foreign travel, and for these positions knowledge of a second language is beneficial.

Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the American Geological Institute and the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.
 


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