How to Become a Seismologist

Seismologists are specialized professionals under a branch of the geoscience who focus on the study of the internal movement of the earth in the forms of earthquakes and seismic movement.

This includes the movement of the plate tectonics that causes earthquakes and the composition of the earth’s crust.

Many of these individuals work in the oil industry helping companies search and extract oil for consumer use.

Individuals who want to become a Seismologist will need a combination of education and personal characteristics to succeed in this profession.

Individuals will have a high interest in the physical sciences, have physical stamina in cases where work is done outdoors and have strong communication skills in order to write reports and debrief information to clients.

Education Requirements to Become a Seismologist

Individuals who would like to become a Seismologist will need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in order to seek an entry level position in this field.

Individuals who pursue a graduate degree such as a master’s have better job prospects while those who pursue a graduate degree have many more opportunities in research and teaching at the postsecondary level.

Search for Seismologist Programs Now!
Choose a Program

sponsored schools

In addition, individuals who provide their services to the public may be required to become licensed in their state.

Individuals working on their undergraduate degree are encouraged to study a program in science, such as seismology or a closely related field in order to become a Seismologist.

Additional recommended science programs include: geoscience, mathematics, engineering, biology, chemistry, computer science or physics.

Individuals seeking the latter programs are encouraged to take additional courses in geology and seismology.

The majority of geoscience programs include a curriculum focusing on the following courses: petrology, mineralogy, structural geology and additional courses in the physical sciences.

These programs also include courses in engineering, computer science, physical sciences and mathematics.

Individuals pursuing a master’s or doctoral degree are encouraged to complete a program in seismology.

Individuals with a master’s degree in seismology have better job prospects while those with a doctoral degree are able to perform research and instruct at the postsecondary level.

Individuals are encouraged to contact their state for more information on becoming licensed for positions affecting the public.

Seismologist Job Description

Seismologists use their background in the geosciences to gather data and information on the movement of the earth’s crust and its seismic activity.

This includes the development of tsunamis and explosions resulting from tectonic movement or earthquakes.

Seismologists will use a variety of equipment to gather data including seismographs and other specialized equipment.

Seismologists may work in a variety of environments including offices, laboratories and on sites where the research is being done.

Seismologists will also use their skills to do the following:

  • Search for natural resources, such as oil
  • Plan and perform field studies and surveys of assigned sites
  • Take measurements of the site
  • Collect samples from the site for use in research
  • Analyze the data gathered to write reports

Seismologists will use techniques that are not invasive to the earth and do not generate the earth’s movement to study the earth’s structure.

Seismologist Salary and Career Path

Seismologists work under a broader umbrella of professionals referred to as Geoscientists.

In 2012, the median salary for all Geoscientists was approximately $90,890 per year.

Exact wages will depend on several factors including years of experience, industry type and geographical location.

For example, individuals who work for a state government can expect a median salary of $62,030 per year while those who work for the federal government can expect a median salary of approximately $94,830 per year.

The job outlook for all geoscientists is expected to grow at a much faster rate when compared to other professions.

Job opportunities for this field are expected to increase by 16 percent through the year 2022.

This projected growth is attributed to the increase in demand for professionals focusing on environmental protection and responsible use of land and its resources.

Seismologists are science professionals in the field of geoscience who use their background to study the movement of the earth’s crust, seismic activity and earthquakes.

These individuals can work in a variety of industries including state or federal governments as well as for private companies such as in the oil industry needing professional advice on sites they are looking to drill in.

Top Programs

Find a Program