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Geoscientists and Oceanographers

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NOC:2113
Occupation:Geoscientists and Oceanographers
Category:Engineering, Math, Science, and Information Technology

About the job

Nature of work:

Geoscientists include geologists, geochemists and geophysicists who conduct programs of exploration and research to extend knowledge of the structure, composition and processes of the earth, to locate, identify and extract hydrocarbon, mineral and groundwater resources and to assess and mitigate the effects of development and waste disposal projects on the environment.

Geoscientists are employed by petroleum and mining companies, consulting geology, geophysics and engineering firms and by governments and educational institutions, or they may be self-employed.

Oceanographers conduct programs of exploration and research on ocean processes and phenomena, biological, chemical and physical characteristics of oceans, interactions with atmospheric and geological environments and impacts of human activity on oceans and marine ecosystems. Oceanographers are employed by governments, educational institutions and private companies engaged in exploration of seafloor deposits and seafarming areas, or they may be self-employed.

Job duties:
Geoscientists perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Conduct theoretical and applied research to extend knowledge of surface and subsurface features of the earth, its history and the operation of physical, chemical and biological systems that control its evolution.
  • Plan, direct and participate in geological, geochemical and geophysical field studies, drilling and geological testing programs.
  • Plan and conduct seismic, electromagnetic, magnetic, gravimetric, radiometric, radar and other remote sensing programs.
  • Plan, direct and participate in analyses of geological, geochemical and geophysical survey data, well logs and other test results, maps, notes and cross sections.
  • Develop models and applied software for the analysis and interpretation of data.
  • Plan and conduct analytical studies of core samples, drill cuttings and rock samples to identify chemical, mineral, hydrocarbon and biological composition and to assess depositional environments and geological age.
  • Assess the size, orientation and composition of mineral ore bodies and hydrocarbon deposits.
  • Identify deposits of construction materials and determine their characteristics and suitability for use as concrete aggregates, road fill or for other applications.
  • Conduct geological and geophysical studies for regional development and advise in areas such as site selection, waste management and restoration of contaminated sites.
  • Recommend the acquisition of lands, exploration and mapping programs and mine development.
  • Identify and advise on anticipated natural risks such as slope erosion, landslides, soil instability, subsidence, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
  • May supervise and coordinate well drilling, completion and work-overs and mining activities.
Oceanographers perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Conduct theoretical and applied oceanographic research programs and expeditions to extend knowledge of the physical, chemical and biological properties and functioning of oceans.
  • Plan, direct and participate in sampling and analysis of seawater, plankton, fish, sediments and rocks.
  • Study physical properties of oceans to develop models, charts and computer simulations of ocean conditions, such as tides, waves, currents and sediment transport.
  • Explore ocean floor and submarine geological structures, conduct seismic surveys and study formation of ocean basins and other structures to map ocean floor, coastal erosion, sediment accumulation and areas for offshore oil and gas exploration.
  • Plan and conduct investigations on ocean chemical properties and processes, ocean floor and marine atmosphere and undersea volcanoes to study impacts of environmental changes.
  • Study marine life and interaction with physical and chemical environments to assess impacts of pollutants on marine ecology and to develop ecologically-based methods of seafarming.

Geologists may specialize in fields such as coal geology, environmental geology, geochronology, hydrogeology, mineral deposits or mining, petroleum geology, stratigraphy, tectonics, volcanology or in other fields. Geochemists may specialize in analytical geochemistry, hydrogeochemistry, mineral or petroleum geochemistry, or in other fields. Geophysicists may specialize in areas, such as petroleum geology, earth physics, geodesy, geoelectromagnetism, seismology or in other fields. Oceanographers may specialize in biological, chemical, geological or physical oceanography, or in other fields related to the study of oceans.

Sample job titles:
  • geochemist
  • geologist
  • geophysicist
  • geoscientist
  • hydrogeologist
  • hydrologist
  • marine geologist
  • mineralogist
  • oceanographer
  • paleontologist
Skills:

To work in this field, you should have an interest in the earth's structure and materials. The ability to communicate and cooperate with others is important, as these individuals often work in teams. Also, a familiarity with computers is essential. You should be curious, adaptable, and patient, and enjoy working with scientific data. Physical stamina may be necessary for those doing fieldwork in remote areas or at sea.

Job requirements:
  • Geoscientists require a university degree in geology, geochemistry, geophysics or a related discipline.
  • A master's or doctoral degree in geophysics, physics, mathematics or engineering may be required for employment as a geophysicist.
  • Registration with a provincial or territorial association of professional engineers, geologists, geophysicists or geoscientists is usually required for employment.
  • Geologists and geophysicists are eligible for registration following graduation from an accredited educational program and after several years of supervised work experience and, in some provinces, after passing a professional practice examination.
  • Oceanographers require a university degree in science, mathematics, statistics or engineering and usually require a graduate degree in oceanography.
Other considerations:

Any future oil and natural gas exploration and development activity may generate job opportunities for geologists with the appropriate training. Mobility between specializations in this group is possible with experience. Progression to supervisory or higher level positions is possible with experience in this group. Advancement to management positions in mining, petroleum and other industries is possible with experience.

Labour Market Information

Work Prospects:Fair

The employment outlook over the next few years for this occupational group is “average”, which indicates the chances of a qualified individual finding work is comparable to the average for all occupations in Nova Scotia. This is not a large occupation in Nova Scotia so job opportunities may not be that frequent. The number employed in this occupation is expected to grow moderately over the next few years, which will likely provide some additional opportunities for employment. With a large percent of workers being 55 years of age and older, retirements are expected to be a key contributor to employment opportunities over the coming years. Geoscientists and Oceanographers most commonly work full-time hours. Furthermore, the jobs may either be permanent or temporary positions, as both are common. With employment conditions being somewhat seasonal, periods of downtime or layoff throughout the year affect some workers. Also, a fair portion of the workforce is self-employed, so having the option to "work for yourself" may appeal to some individuals’ interests/motivations.

The median employment income for 61% of Geoscientists and Oceanographers who worked full-time, year-round in 2015 was $86,077. Across all occupations in Nova Scotia, 59% of those who worked full-time year round had a median employment income of $43,600.
(Source: 2016 Census)

OccupationEstimated employment in 2018Estimated change in employment between 2017 and 2019Estimated openings due to growth and retirements, 2017-2019Estimated rate of unemployment in 2018 Estimated hourly earnings in 2015 (learn more)Estimated annual earnings in 2015
Geoscientists and Oceanographers255Moderate growth30Moderate
Minimum:  N/A
Median:  N/A
Maximum:  N/A
Minimum: $20,163
Median: $76,971
Maximum: $140,449
Occupations in Engineering, Math, Science, and Information Technology25,875Strong growth3,095Low
Minimum: $17.69
Median: $31.35
Maximum: $47.18
Minimum: $13,568
Median: $60,422
Maximum: $107,009
Geoscientists and OceanographersCompared to: Occupations in Engineering, Math, Science, and Information Technology
Percent employed full-time85%94%
Percent self-employed19%7%
Where will I likely work?
Area of EmploymentGeoscientists and OceanographersCompared to: All NS Occupations
% EmployedMedian Annual Income% EmployedMedian Annual Income
Southern6%x12%$30,581
Northern10%x16%$33,660
Cape Breton5%N/A13%$32,974
Halifax75%$72,89847%$41,209
Annapolis Valley6%x13%$32,958
What are the workers like?
AgeGeoscientists and OceanographersCompared to: All Engineering, Math, Science, and Information Technology
% Employed% Employed
15-243%x
25-3429%14%
35-4437%33%
45-5416%32%
55-6415%18%
65+3%4%
Median Age5343
GenderGeoscientists and OceanographersCompared to: Occupations in Engineering, Math, Science, and Information Technology
% Employed% Employed
Female17%20%
Male83%80%
EducationGeoscientists and OceanographersCompared to: All Engineering, Math, Science, and Information Technology
% EmployedMedian Annual Income% EmployedMedian Annual Income
Less than high schoolN/Ax0.7%$28,107
High schoolN/Ax12.1%$35,125
Trades certificate3.7%x6.8%$54,923
College certificate or diploma3.7%x33.7%$52,476
University certificate or diploma3.7%x3.7%$52,446
Bachelor's degree46.3%$66,23829.7%$58,011
University advanced certificate or diplomaN/Ax2.0%$54,917
Master's degreeN/A$63,9029.7%$37,706
Doctorate24.1%$59,0271.7%$65,565
Medicine, dentistry, veterinary, optometry22.2%x0.1%$57,566
Total100%100%
Wage Disclaimer

Hourly earnings data are from the Labour Force Survey by Statistics Canada. Data are not available for all occupations. Hourly earnings are calculated based on usual hours worked per week. This is how an annual salary, for instance, gets converted to an hourly rate. The data include full and part-time workers along with new and experienced workers. Self-employed workers are excluded.

Annual employment income data reported in the Work Prospects section, are from the 2011 National Household Survey by Statistics Canada. Much of the data (around 70%) came directly from tax records. The data relates to the year 2010 and includes total wages and salaries and net income from self-employment.

Sources

Employment Requirements & Contacts

Regulations:
Geoscientist
Right to Title and Practice:This job is regulated and the job title is protected in Nova Scotia (you may not use this job title without holding a provincial licence). A licence shows that the holder has met provincial requirements and is required to work in this job.
Regulating body:
Geoscientists Nova Scotia
PO Box 91
Enfield, NS B2T 1C6
(902) 420-9928
(902) 482-5039
info@geoscientistsns.ca
Useful contacts:
Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources
PO Box 698
Halifax, NS B3J 2T9
Tel: (902) 424-5935
Fax: (902) 424-7735
Geological Association of Canada
Room ER4063, Alexander Murray Building, Memorial University
St. John's, NL A1B 3X5
Tel: (709) 864-7660
Fax: (709) 864-2532
empenney@mun.ca
Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society
PO Box 3211, Station D
Ottawa, ON K1P 6H7
Tel: (613) 990-0300
Fax: (613) 990-1617
cmos@cmos.ca

Training Paths & Education

Program Name:Biological and physical sciences
Education Level:This program is typically offered at the college or university level.
Program Description:
This instructional program class comprises any program that is either a general synthesis of one or more of the biological and physical sciences, or a specialization which draws from the biological and physical sciences.
See all institutions providing this program+
Acadia University
15 University Avenue
Wolfville, NS B4P 2R6
(902) 542-2201
agi@acadiau.ca
Dalhousie University
Office of the Registrar
Halifax, NS B3H 4R2
(902) 494-2450
admissions@dal.ca
University of King's College
6350 Coburg Road
Halifax, NS B3H 2A1
(902) 422-1271
admissions@ukings.ca
Mount Saint Vincent University
166 Bedford Highway
Halifax, NS B3M 2J6
(902) 457-6117
admissions@msvu.ca
Universite Sainte-Anne
Siège Social: 1695, Route 1
Pointe-de-l'Église, NS B0W 1M0
(902) 769-2114
Blanche.Theriault@usainteanne.ca
St. Francis Xavier University
PO Box 5000
Antigonish, NS B2G 2W5
(902) 867-2219
admit@stfx.ca
Saint Mary's University
923 Robie Street
Halifax, NS B3H 3C3
(902) 420-5400
admission.status@smu.ca
Cape Breton University
PO Box 5300 1250 Grand Lake Road
Sydney, NS B1P 6L2
(888) 959-9995
registrar@cbu.ca
Program Name:Engineering - General
Education Level:This program is typically offered at the university level.
Program Description:
This instructional program class comprises any program that generally prepares individuals to apply mathematical and scientific principles to solve a wide variety of practical problems in industry, social organization, public works, and commerce.
See all institutions providing this program+
Acadia University
15 University Avenue
Wolfville, NS B4P 2R6
(902) 542-2201
agi@acadiau.ca
Dalhousie University
Office of the Registrar
Halifax, NS B3H 4R2
(902) 494-2450
admissions@dal.ca
St. Francis Xavier University
PO Box 5000
Antigonish, NS B2G 2W5
(902) 867-2219
admit@stfx.ca
Saint Mary's University
923 Robie Street
Halifax, NS B3H 3C3
(902) 420-5400
admission.status@smu.ca
Cape Breton University
PO Box 5300 1250 Grand Lake Road
Sydney, NS B1P 6L2
(888) 959-9995
registrar@cbu.ca
Dalhousie University Faculty of Agriculture
PO Box 550
Truro, NS B2N 5E3
(902) 893-6600
enrolment.services@dal.ca
Program Name:Fishing and fisheries sciences and management
Education Level:This program may be offered at the college, trades, or university level.
Program Description:
This instructional program class comprises any program that focuses on the scientific study of the husbandry and production of non-domesticated fish and shellfish populations for recreational and commercial purposes and the management of fishing and marine/aquatic product processing to ensure adequate conservation and efficient utilization. These programs include courses in the principles of marine/aquatic biology, freshwater and saltwater ecosystems, water resources, fishing production operations and management, fishing policy and regulation, and the management of recreational and commercial fishing activities.
See all institutions providing this program+
Nova Scotia Community College - Shelburne Campus
PO Box 760, 1575 Lake Road
Shelburne, NS B0T 1W0
(902) 875-8640
shelburne.info@nscc.ca
Program Name:Geochemistry
Education Level:This program is typically offered at the college or university level.
Program Description:
This instructional program class comprises any program that focuses on the scientific study of the chemical properties and behaviour of the silicates and other substances forming, and formed by geomorphological processes of the earth and other planets. These programs include courses in chemical thermodynamics, equilibrium in silicate systems, atomic bonding, isotopic fractionation, geochemical modelling, specimen analysis, and studies of specific organic and inorganic substances.
There are no schools in Nova Scotia offering this program.
Program Name:Geology/earth science - General
Education Level:This program is typically offered at the college or university level.
Program Description:
This instructional program class comprises any program that focuses on the scientific study of the earth; the forces acting upon it; and the behaviour of the solids, liquids and gases comprising it. These programs include courses in historical geology, geomorphology, and sedimentology, the chemistry of rocks and soils, stratigraphy, mineralogy, petrology, geostatistics, volcanology, glaciology, geophysical principles, and applications to research and industrial problems.
See all institutions providing this program+
Acadia University
15 University Avenue
Wolfville, NS B4P 2R6
(902) 542-2201
agi@acadiau.ca
Dalhousie University
Office of the Registrar
Halifax, NS B3H 4R2
(902) 494-2450
admissions@dal.ca
University of King's College
6350 Coburg Road
Halifax, NS B3H 2A1
(902) 422-1271
admissions@ukings.ca
St. Francis Xavier University
PO Box 5000
Antigonish, NS B2G 2W5
(902) 867-2219
admit@stfx.ca
Saint Mary's University
923 Robie Street
Halifax, NS B3H 3C3
(902) 420-5400
admission.status@smu.ca
Cape Breton University
PO Box 5300 1250 Grand Lake Road
Sydney, NS B1P 6L2
(888) 959-9995
registrar@cbu.ca
Program Name:Geophysics and seismology
Education Level:This program is typically offered at the college or university level.
Program Description:
This instructional program class comprises any program that focuses on the scientific study of the physics of solids and its application to the study of the earth and other planets. These programs include courses in gravimetrics, seismology, earthquake forecasting, magnetrometry, electrical properties of solid bodies, plate tectonics, active deformation, thermodynamics, remote sensing, geodesy, and laboratory simulations of geological processes.
There are no schools in Nova Scotia offering this program.
Program Name:Marine biology and biological oceanography
Education Level:This program is typically offered at the college or university level.
Program Description:
This instructional program class comprises any program that focuses on the scientific study of the ecology and behaviour of microbes, plants, and animals inhabiting oceans, coastal waters, and saltwater wetlands and their interactions with the physical environment. These programs include courses in chemical, physical, and geological oceanography; molecular, cellular, and biochemical studies; marine microbiology; marine botany; ichthyology; mammalogy; marine population dynamics and biodiversity; reproductive biology; studies of specific species, phyla, habitats, and ecosystems; marine paleoecology and paleontology; and applications to fields such as fisheries science and biotechnology.
See all institutions providing this program+
Dalhousie University
Office of the Registrar
Halifax, NS B3H 4R2
(902) 494-2450
admissions@dal.ca
University of King's College
6350 Coburg Road
Halifax, NS B3H 2A1
(902) 422-1271
admissions@ukings.ca
Program Name:Marine sciences
Education Level:This program is typically offered at the college or university level.
Program Description:
This instructional program class comprises any program that focuses on the study of biology, chemistry, geology and physics applied to marine, estuarine and coastal environments. These programs include courses in marine biogeochemistry, atmosphere and ocean dynamics, coastal ecology, coastal ocean processes, microbial ecology, marine ecosystem modeling, and polar microbiology.
See all institutions providing this program+
Nova Scotia Community College - Waterfront Campus & Aviation Institute
80 Mawiomi Place
Dartmouth, NS B2Y 0A5
(902) 491-1100
waterfront.info@nscc.ca
Program Name:Mathematics - General
Education Level:This program is typically offered at the college or university level.
Program Description:
This instructional program class comprises any general program that focuses on the analysis of quantities, magnitudes, forms, and their relationships, using symbolic logic and language. These programs include courses in algebra, calculus, functional analysis, geometry, number theory, logic, topology and other mathematical specializations.
See all institutions providing this program+
Dalhousie University
Office of the Registrar
Halifax, NS B3H 4R2
(902) 494-2450
admissions@dal.ca
University of King's College
6350 Coburg Road
Halifax, NS B3H 2A1
(902) 422-1271
admissions@ukings.ca
Mount Saint Vincent University
166 Bedford Highway
Halifax, NS B3M 2J6
(902) 457-6117
admissions@msvu.ca
St. Francis Xavier University
PO Box 5000
Antigonish, NS B2G 2W5
(902) 867-2219
admit@stfx.ca
Saint Mary's University
923 Robie Street
Halifax, NS B3H 3C3
(902) 420-5400
admission.status@smu.ca
Cape Breton University
PO Box 5300 1250 Grand Lake Road
Sydney, NS B1P 6L2
(888) 959-9995
registrar@cbu.ca
Program Name:Oceanography, chemical and physical
Education Level:This program is typically offered at the college or university level.
Program Description:
This instructional program class comprises any program that focuses on the scientific study of the chemical components, mechanisms, structure, and movement of ocean waters and their interaction with terrestrial and atmospheric phenomena. These programs include courses in material inputs and outputs, chemical and biochemical transformations in marine systems, equilibria studies, inorganic and organic ocean chemistry, oceanographic processes, sediment transport, zone processes, circulation, mixing, tidal movements, wave properties, and seawater properties.
There are no schools in Nova Scotia offering this program.
Program Name:Physical sciences - General
Education Level:This program is typically offered at the college or university level.
Program Description:
This instructional program class comprises any program that focuses on the major topics, concepts, processes, and interrelationships of physical phenomena as studied in any combination of physical science disciplines.
See all institutions providing this program+
Saint Mary's University
923 Robie Street
Halifax, NS B3H 3C3
(902) 420-5400
admission.status@smu.ca
Program Name:Physics - General
Education Level:This program is typically offered at the college or university level.
Program Description:
This instructional program class comprises any general program that focuses on the scientific study of matter and energy, and the formulation and testing of the laws governing the behaviour of the matter-energy continuum. These programs include courses in classical and modern physics, electricity and magnetism, thermodynamics, mechanics, wave properties, nuclear processes, relativity and quantum theory, quantitative methods, and laboratory methods.
See all institutions providing this program+
Acadia University
15 University Avenue
Wolfville, NS B4P 2R6
(902) 542-2201
agi@acadiau.ca
Dalhousie University
Office of the Registrar
Halifax, NS B3H 4R2
(902) 494-2450
admissions@dal.ca
University of King's College
6350 Coburg Road
Halifax, NS B3H 2A1
(902) 422-1271
admissions@ukings.ca
Mount Saint Vincent University
166 Bedford Highway
Halifax, NS B3M 2J6
(902) 457-6117
admissions@msvu.ca
St. Francis Xavier University
PO Box 5000
Antigonish, NS B2G 2W5
(902) 867-2219
admit@stfx.ca
Saint Mary's University
923 Robie Street
Halifax, NS B3H 3C3
(902) 420-5400
admission.status@smu.ca
Cape Breton University
PO Box 5300 1250 Grand Lake Road
Sydney, NS B1P 6L2
(888) 959-9995
registrar@cbu.ca
Program Name:Statistics - General
Education Level:This program is typically offered at the college or university level.
Program Description:
This instructional program class comprises any general program that focuses on the relationships between groups of measurements, and similarities and differences, using probability theory and techniques derived from it. These programs include courses in the principles in probability theory, binomial distribution, regression analysis, standard deviation, stochastic processes, Monte Carlo method, Bayesian statistics, non-parametric statistics, sampling theory, and statistical techniques.
See all institutions providing this program+
Dalhousie University
Office of the Registrar
Halifax, NS B3H 4R2
(902) 494-2450
admissions@dal.ca
University of King's College
6350 Coburg Road
Halifax, NS B3H 2A1
(902) 422-1271
admissions@ukings.ca
Mount Saint Vincent University
166 Bedford Highway
Halifax, NS B3M 2J6
(902) 457-6117
admissions@msvu.ca
St. Francis Xavier University
PO Box 5000
Antigonish, NS B2G 2W5
(902) 867-2219
admit@stfx.ca
Additional resources:

Work Occupation Video(s)

Geophysicist

Hydrogeologist

Paleontologist

Geologist

Ocean Technologist