The rock people

Last Updated: Oct 21, 2014, 16:38 PM IST

Do you think geologists play with rocks all day? Wrong! Patricia Mascarenhas explores the scope of this rocking career.

How are mountains created? What are rocks made of? What is a volcano? Do you want to find answers to these questions? Do you like living outdoors in tents, and imagine yourself wandering this planet with a haversack on your back and hammer in hand? If yes, then being a geologist may be a perfect career choice. “It is an exciting and diverse science which includes indepth study of physics, math, chemistry, paleontology (fossils) and biology,” says Hrishikesh Samant, head, Department Of Geology, St Xavier's College. The college offers under graduate, post graduate and doctoral programmes in geology.

To be a geologist, even a graduate degree in geology is sufficient. “However, for better job prospects, it is advised to pursue MSc in Geology ,” says Samant adding that physics, chemistry and/ or maths are preferred as ancillary subjects at the undergraduate level. An Msc in Geology entails advance level learning in petrology, mineralogy, structural geology, geochemistry, geophysics, geoexploration, remote sensing, palaeontology and stratigraphy. “Placements do not happen in colleges as the industry prefers post graduates,” says Samant adding that colleges offer applied courses in coal and petroleum geology as well.

In India, there is a notion that jobs in the oil fields are very lucrative and hence there is a spurt in the number of students who seek this degree. “Apart from the oil and gas fields, jobs are also offered by the mining and natural resources management companies. A geologist is an important team member in any environment management project or a site remediation procedure,” informs Samant.

Salary depends on what you are hired to do and by what company. On the low end of the salary scale is a job called a mud logger. According to PayScale reports 2014, a geologist in India earns an average salary of Rs 479,088 per year. “The pay package increases with experience. A post graduate can begin with Rs 3 lakh and can go up to Rs 12 lakhs. In a few cases, Rs 20 to 24 lakhs is also offered,” informs Samant.

A career in geology, offers the prospect of doing much more than sitting behind a desk. “Although writing and computer skills are vital, many jobs in the sector involve some component of fieldwork,” says Ashish D'mello, adding that it could be hiking through the wilderness, mapping different rock types to locate mineral deposits, sampling groundwater for lab analysis, analysing subsurface materials brought up during drilling to infer soil stability or something else entirely.

The life of most geologists is a fulfilling one, both intellectually and financially. “Earth science has always fascinated me and by studying geology you actually are studying the working and evolution of the planet,” says Kenn Gonsalves, student, MSc, Department Of Geology, St Xavier's College. Another student, Elrida Dsouza agrees, “We work on issues of importance to society, bringing in all our intellectual resources, our work space is set outdoors, and are paid well for our work,” she concludes.

PG in Geology

In Maharashtra — Pune, Nanded, Amravati, Nagpur, Sholapur.

All India — IIT Kharagpur, Roorkee, ISM Dhanbad

Reputed geology departments in universities across India — Baroda, Allahabad, Kumaon, Kolkata, Chennai, Chandigarh, Kerala and Goa

Job Opportunities

Oil and gas exploration, energy, mining, geoscience, seismology, geodesy, environmental science, remediation of contaminated land, agriculture, forestry, ecology, plant science, meteorology, ground water exploration, land resources exploitation, atmospheric science, oceanography, marine geology, hydrogeology, soil science, remote sensing, GIS, geotechnical / civil engineering, surveying, renewable energy, EIA, waste management, sustainable development, watershed management, gemmology

Institute indicator

St Xavier's, Mumbai

IIT Bombay, Mumbai

Institute of Science, Mumbai

Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai

Indian Institute of Geo-Magnetism, Mumbai

Indira Gandhi Institute of Developmental Research, Mumbai

Physical Research Lab, Ahmedabad

National Geophysical Research Institute, Hyderabad

National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) – Goa

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) - Space Applications Centre (SAC), Ahmedabad

Skill sets required

Excellent physical fitness

Ability and temperament to survive in harsh working conditions

Willingness to travel, relocate or spend time away from home