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The Earth Sciences major blends the traditional fields of physical geography and geology to give students an understanding of Earth itself and the processes that have shaped its landscapes and environment. Aside from physical geography and geology, areas of study include oceanography, climatology, soil science, and chemistry.
Graduates with a major in Earth Sciences are currently in high demand. Earth Scientists can gain employment in varying levels of government, local and international agencies and businesses and even in ecotourism and regional development. While Bachelor-level positions are often available and many organisations offer structured graduate programs, further study may increase employment opportunities in some fields, and usually essential for specialisation.
Academic advice: view Study Pathways for this major »
Some occupations require a higher level of completed study than an undergraduate degree, and for this reason it is worthwhile considering the range of Honours, Research Higher Degrees, Postgraduate Coursework and additional study options available. These options may also be useful for specialising in a particular area, or to stimulate career change. Some of the future options following a major in Earth Sciences include:
Some jobs require additional qualifications at Honours level. Honours is a one year stand-alone program, completed after successfully fulfilling the requirements of the undergraduate degree. View Bachelor of Science (Honours).
Some occupations require a higher level of completed study than an undergraduate degree, and for this reason it is worthwhile considering the range of postgraduate study options available. Postgraduate study may also be useful for specialising in a particular area, or to stimulate career change. Some of the postgraduate study options following the Bachelor of Science include:
Postgraduate coursework programs can add further specialisations in areas including business, safety, quality assurance and teaching. To explore such options please visit the Postgraduate Handbook.
The following list provides some example jobs available to graduates of a with a major in Earth Sciences. Some of these jobs will depend on the amount and level of study undertaken, level of experience, the combination of other majors and electives studied, while some may require further study.
Not everyone uses their degree in the same way and the transferable skills gained through university study may allow graduates to pursue a range of careers that might not be directly linked to their study. Below is a sample list of job titles that might be suitable for someone with the skills gained from an Earth Science major.
- Conservationist / Ecologist
- Environmental Chemist
- Environmental Manager
- Environmental Scientist
- Field Assistant
- Geographic Information System Officer/Analyst
- Graduate Programs - Public and Private Sectors
- Laboratory Analyst
Getting the Edge
Most employers seek to recruit people who have relevant work experience and an appreciation for their industry. Here is a check list of ideas about gaining experience and industry knowledge.
- Check the type of experience most employers in your field of interest expect. Don’t overlook the part time work you may be currently doing. Most employers understand that the skills are transferrable even if the work is not in their industry.
- Check your academic program for any courses that involve a placement or the opportunity to undertake an industry based project.
- Check your school for Summer Scholarships for research opportunities.
- Check vacancy sites for advertised traineeships, part time employment and vacation work opportunities in your field.
- Source and approach organisations directly about possible work shadowing or information interview opportunities.
- Source and approach organisations directly for paid work opportunities.
- Consider volunteering.
Note: Gaining experience may be important but not at the expense of your studies. Make sure you do not overload your timetable with unrealistic work commitments.
Earth Sciences graduates find employment opportunities in small, medium or large organisations of varying industries. Below are some examples of organisations that may recruit those holding this major. Check employers’ websites for sections titled Employment, Careers, Graduate Programs, or for similar sections. Some employers may also offer vacation work opportunities.
- Anglo Coal (International)
- Australian Conservation Foundation (Australia)
- BHP Billiton (Australia)
- Commonwealth Bank of Australia (Australia)
- CSIRO (Australia)
- Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (Australia)
- Department of Environment and Climate Change (NSW) (Australia)
- Department of Environment and Conservation (WA) (Australia)
- Department of Environment and Heritage (Australia)
- Department of Industry and Investment (NSW) (Australia)
- Department of Natural Resources, Environment, The Arts and Sport (NT) (Australia)
- Department of Primary Industries (NSW) (Australia)
- Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism (Australia)
- Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (Australia)
- Department of Water, Land and Biodiversity Conservation (SA) (Australia)
- Environmental Protection Agency (Australia)
- Environmental Resources Management (Australia)
- ExxonMobil (Australia)
- Friends of the Earth Australia (Australia)
- Geoscience Australia (Australia)
- GHD (International)
- Greenpeace Australia (Australia)
- National Museum of Australia (Australia)
- National Parks and Wildlife Service (Australia)
- Questacon (Australia)
- Rio Tinto (International)
- Roads and Traffic Authority (NSW) (Australia)
- Santos (Australia)
- Sinclair Knight Merz (International)
- URS Corporation (Australia)
- Westpac (Australia)
- Woodside (Australia)
- Xstrata (Australia)
Some large organisations have specific graduate recruitment programs designed to employ the pick of graduates each year. You must be in your final year of study or recently completed to apply for these programs. The timing of these recruitment drives varies and may occur at any point in the academic year, in some cases starting as early as the first few weeks of the first semester or trimester.
Find out if employers in your area/s of interest have graduate programs, when they typically recruit and what recruitment methods they use. Check with the Careers Service .
Job Prospects and Salary
For up-to-date information please see Job Outlook Australia. This site provides basic Australian labour market information including job prospects, skills requirements and salaries. You might try some of the classifications below as a guide on this site.
Societies and Associations
Associations and societies often provide relevant and up to date information about a variety of issues relating to specific industry sectors. These can be a good starting point to learn more about occupations through profiles, industry news, links to academic journals and information on research developments. Many also offer student membership, conference and professional development activities, newsletters and the opportunity to participate in projects.
- Australian Academy of Science (Australia)
- Australian Conservation Foundation (Australia)
- Australian Geoscience Information Association (Australia)
- Australian Institute of Geoscientists (Australia)
Don’t overlook student societies and associations. As well as student chapters of professional associations, some faculties or schools have discipline based student associations. Check your school or faculty web site; perhaps you might start one if one doesn’t exist.
Some academic disciplines run Seminar Programs that involve regular seminars presented by University of Newcastle academics, visiting academics and postgraduate students. Check your schools website for the timetable.
Job Search Sites
Searching job sites is a good way to gain an understanding of: industries recruiting professionals in this field; types of roles and the requirements or expectations of employers for these roles. There are many online job search sites, here are a few to start with:
Australian and International
- CareerHub: the University of Newcastle Careers Service careers and job search site for enrolled students and graduates.
- CareerOne: Australia wide job listings, all levels and industries including executive positions
- MyCareer: Australian and international listings
- Seek: comprehensive Australian job listings, also includes New Zealand and UK listings
- The Big Chair: Management and Executive Jobs
Graduates with a major in Earth Sciences will have the skills, abilities and knowledge sought after by a broad range of employers. On completion of the degree, graduates are equipped with the:
- In-depth knowledge and skills in a field of science with well-founded knowledge and skills in at least one field of science and a basic knowledge of at least one other field of science.
- Ability to effectively collect, analyse and organise scientific information.
- Ability to identify, define and analyse problems using scientific method to form and test hypotheses; the ability to apply statistical principles and logic; and use appropriate problem solving tools.
- Ability to report scientific findings in written, visual and verbal forms and to communicate a convincing and reasoned scientific argument at a level and style.
- Ability to work on a scientific activity both autonomously and collaboratively in a multidisciplinary environment with an ability to adapt to change, including new technologies and methods.
- Awareness of professional practice in relevant disciplines, including an understanding, appreciation and respect for appropriate conduct and practice.