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In order to become a geological mapper, you will have to get at least a bachelor’s degree in geology, though many firms prefer a master’s degree for the added knowledge it provides. Thus, to become a geological mapper, you likely will need a minimum of four years of college for the undergraduate degree and an additional two to three years for the master’s degree. A geological mapper with a doctorate in geology can command the job of his or her choice, often at a salary much higher than a master’s degree can provide.
The drawback to adding an extra five years to your education is not merely the added tuition costs, because many universities will help fund a doctorate degree, but the wages lost while you complete your advanced degree. Therefore, unless you are getting an advanced degree to obtain a particular job, you would do as well to finish your master’s and enter the work field. This allows you to gain valuable field experience, which many employers regard as equal in value to education obtained in a classroom. After you have your degree and are ready to become a geological mapper, your most likely source of employment will be mining or oil and gas extraction firms. These companies use geological mappers and mapping technology to help them determine whether the rock strata of an area contains precious or rare minerals or exhibits the kind of structure that portends valuable deposits of oil and natural gas.
The most valuable tool that you will use if you become a geological mapper is a geographic information system (GIS) which is a computer system that not only maps an area’s geology but stores the information for later analysis and cross-matching. This ability to store and cross-reference various geological aspects of an area results in better decision making on the part of company executives charged with planning the next oil or gas well bore hole. If the bore hole is successful, this will enhance your reputation as a geological mapper as well.
Eventually, your understanding of geological mapping principles might lead to a teaching position at a college or university. It might also lead to private employment as a consultant to mining, energy and geothermal firms, and this is a route that many former geological mappers take to provide themselves with additional job autonomy. Some geological mappers even find themselves working for regional or national governments to identify and evaluate appropriate sites for hazardous waste disposal. Some work to reduce earthquake hazards or even to predict earthquakes and volcanic activity.
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