Our degrees lead to exciting, professionally satisfying,
societally important, and high-paying careers in the
modern high-tech world of Earth Science.

2005 Salary Information from American Geological Institute (Salaries have increased 10-20% from 2004!)

Energy Careers

Rising gasoline and other fossil fuel energy prices are a source of dismay for many Americans, but you can turn them into a bright career future. In the past three years the price of a barrel of crude oil has doubled. This trend is fueled by declining petroleum reserves and rapidly increasing demand. Part of this increase in demand comes from established economies, such as the United States, but much of it is a result of the explosive growth in developing economies, such as China and India.
Oil well pump outside Petroleum Recovery Research Center (PRRC) on NMT campus

Energy companies are increasing their exploration for new petroleum reservoirs and their management activities at established ones (including growing interest in sequestration activities to keep carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere and contributing to greenhouse warming). They need large numbers of geologists. However, the current workforce in these fields was mostly hired during the 1980s, and many of these professionals are expected to retire in the near future. The petroleum industry has recently estimated that it will need to replace 50% of its existing workforce over the next ten years. This does not include additional new employees needed to cover expansion.

The combination of rapidly increasing demand for petroleum geologists and engineers and a "graying" workforce will offer exceptional employment opportunities for qualified college graduates over the next 5 or 10 years and beyond. Current salaries for new graduates are in the range of $40,000 to $60,000 per year at the B.S. level, and up to $90,000 at the graduate level (and may go higher as demand increases). (Salary update) Much of the employment growth will be overseas, and these jobs will present a unique opportunity for adventure-minded students who would like to see the world.

Mining Careers

For a long time the word on the street has been "Mining is dead!" That was never exactly true, but now the situation has changed dramatically. Employment in mining is roaring back to life.

During the 1980s a glut in mineral commodities combined with an oversupply of mining engineers and economic geologists drove hiring down to very low levels. Since that time, mining companies have largely lived off of that 1970s to 1980s generation of employees. However, the circumstances are now reversing. The employees hired on in the 1970s and 1980s are nearing retirement, but the supply of new mining engineers and geologist graduating from college has dwindled to a trickle. At the same time, the booming economies of China, India, southeast Asia, and parts of South America have greatly increased both the demand for mineral commodities and their prices.

Mining companies are now in a crunch. Current salaries for graduating seniors choosing a career in mining and exploration are up about 12% from 2005 salary levels, with an average starting salary about $54,000! (Salary update)

Mining engineering and economic geology not only offer jobs that are easy to find and that pay well, they are also exciting careers. These are not sit-in-front-of-the-computer-terminal-for-the-rest-of-your-life kinds of jobs. Much of the work is in the outdoors. Mining engineers and geologists work on the tops of mountain ranges and in tropical jungles. They supervise blasting, drilling, and heavy equipment operations.

Students who are interested in these careers need to be adventurous and have a thirst to see the world. Recent New Mexico Tech graduates -- and M.S. students doing their thesis projects -- are working in Mongolia, China, Kazakstan, Russia, Chile, Peru, Mexico, and the U.S. This diversity of job locations is a direct reflection of a world market that needs young professionals who are willing and capable of working, communicating, and living just about anywhere!

Careers in Environmental Geology, Geophysics, and Hydrology

Geology students examining the Sierra Ladrones Formation, the most important aquifer unit in New Mexico (photo by P. Mozley).
Make a career of helping improve the environment! Many students with earth science degrees find jobs as environmental geologists and hydrologists. Employment in this sector has been steady and is expected to continue to grow. This growth is spurred by public policy (compliance with complex environmental regulations) and increasing demands on natural resources as communities expand.

Environmental geologists and hydrologists work on diverse topics, including geologic hazard assessment and action (e.g., hazards associated with earthquakes, landslides, volcanic eruptions, coastal erosion), groundwater supply and contamination, and cleanup of contaminated sites. The work ranges from collection of field data (getting paid for hiking around?!) to constructing sophisticated computer models of groundwater flow.

New Mexico Tech graduates interested in environmental geology and hydrology work for state and federal agencies, universities, and environmental consulting firms. Many professors work on environmental research topics, and we have one of the top ranked hydrology programs in the world. You will find numerous opportunities to become involved in environmental research projects while working towards your degree and career.