Explore Earth Sciences

Earth scientists, also known as geoscientists, are stewards or caretakers of the earth's resources and environment. Investigating the earth, its soils, oceans, and atmosphere; forecasting the weather; developing land-use plans; exploring other planets and the solar system; determining environmental impacts; and finding new sources of useful earth materials are just a few of the ways geoscientists contribute to our understanding of the earth’s processes and history. Geoscientists provide essential information for solving problems and establishing governmental policies for resource management, environmental protection; and public health, safety, and welfare. Other areas of earth sciences include geology, geophysics, hydrology, meteorology, and oceanography.

Geologists study the composition, structure, and history of the earth’s crust. They investigate the formation of rocks and landscapes and what has happened to them since their formation. They apply knowledge of chemistry, physics, biology, and math to problems such as finding oil, ores, and water. They may also decide which sites can safely support structures and advise on how to minimize environmental damage from natural hazards such as floods, landslides, or earthquakes.

Geophysicists use the principles of physics, mathematics, and chemistry to study not only the earth’s surface, but also its internal composition, ground and surface waters, atmosphere, oceans, and magnetic, electrical, and gravitational forces. Hydrologists study the distribution, flow, and composition of underground and surface waters. Some hydrologists address problems of water supply, irrigation, erosion, and flood control.

Oceanographers study tides, winds, currents, fish, seaweed, and the sediments, valleys, and mountain ranges of the ocean floor. Their work aids weather prediction, fisheries, resource discovery and retrieval, and national defense. With the aid of data obtained from satellites, aircraft, and ground stations, meteorologists study winds, clouds, temperature patterns, and precipitation.

*Salary and Career Outcomes gathered from the 2020-2021 CSE Graduation Survey. Post-graduation outcomes reflect the percentage of students who were employed full-time in their field or were enrolled in a graduate program at 6 months post-graduation.

**Salary data is national data, not CSE-specific, due to major cohort numbers too small to disclose due to privacy.

ESci Career Prospects. Average Starting Salary: $62,622; Post-Graduation Outcomes: Employed 66.7%, Graduate School 6.7%, Other 26.7%

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What can I do with a major in Earth Science?


  • Civil engineering
  • Economic geology
  • Environmental
  • Government agencies
  • Mineral energy
  • Mining
  • Oil/petroleum
  • Paleontology
  • Physiography
  • Structural/subsurface geology
  • Text and map publishers


  • Antea Group
  • Applied Engineering, Inc.
  • Barr Engineering
  • Bay West LLC
  • Braun Intertec Corp.
  • ExxonMobil
  • MN Dept. of Natural Resources
  • MN Pollution Control Agency
  • National Park Service
  • Summit Envirosolutions
  • Washington Conservation Distr.
  • WSP Global


  • ChemDraw
  • Excel
  • GIS
  • LoggerPro
  • Mathematica


  • Economic geologist: Explores and develops metallic and nonmetallic resources. Economic geologists study mineral deposits and find environmentally safe ways to dispose of waste materials from mining activities.
  • Environmental geologist: Studies the interaction between the geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, biosphere, and human activities. Environmental geologists work to solve problems associated with pollution, waste management, urbanization, and natural hazards, such as flooding and erosion.
  • Field geologist: Investigates the structure and evolution of the earth and its natural resources to survey land and draw up safe building plans.
  • Mineralogist: Studies mineral formation, composition, and properties.
  • Paleontologist: Studies fossils to learn about life in prehistoric times.
  • Petroleum scientist: Searches for and develops oil and natural gas resources.
  • Petrologist: Takes observational, chemical, and physical data and uses it to develop theories on the origin of rocks.
  • Seismologist: Studies earthquakes, including how they form and their patterns. Seismologists interpret the structure of the earth through the study of earthquakes, and predict when earthquakes will occur.
  • Soil scientist: Studies soil and deals with agricultural issues and solutions.
  • Volcanologist: Studies and researches volcanoes, including predicting when the next eruptions will occur.

**Some of these positions may require an advanced degree.


  • Active Energy Club
  • CSE K-12 Outreach
  • CSE Ambassadors
  • CSE International Ambassadors
  • Engineers Without Borders
  • National Society of Black Engineers
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  • Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers
  • Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers
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  • Solar Vehicle Project
  • Tau Beta Pi
  • TeslaWorks
  • University of Minnesota Geological Society

Q&A with Jesse Schewe, Staff Professional, Antea Group

What do I do?

I primarily support the environmental liability management section by working in the field as well as the office. In the field, I travel to sites to collect water samples from wells and other hydrogeological data. In the office, I assist with large scale data management, geographic information system (GIS) figure production, and periodic groundwater monitoring reports.

What is a typical day like?

As our office is being remodeled, I often work from home. I start by checking my emails — looking to see if any requests have been made to produce tables from the database or to create groundwater elevation and analytical figures. If there are requests, I work through each and send the finished product back to the requestor. Then I review our report progress tracker to see if any work needs to be completed on the numerous semi-annual site reports for our clients and the Department of Ecology (state-regulating agency). After that, I reach out to folks around the company to see if there are any projects that I can provide assistance on. 

For field days, we often start early — meeting at the field warehouse at six or seven in the morning. One to three colleagues and I load up our equipment into the company vehicle and head out to the site of the day. Usually, we work at gas stations to sample the groundwater while trying not to get hit by cars. We use our vehicle, cones, and blockades to protect our work zone and stay safe. Field days can last anywhere from two hours, to twelve hours, to two days. After wrapping up the site we head back to the office, replace and reorganize our equipment, and complete the day’s notes and logs.

What personal qualities or abilities are important to being successful in this position?

Like most jobs, it’s important to be well-organized, mindful of time, and adaptable. These qualities play into meeting deadlines, managing tasks on multiple projects, and figuring out how to do all of those different tasks. 

What technical skills are important to being successful in your job?

A background in general hydrogeology and basic soil science is useful in understanding literature, graphs, figures, and industry processes. Good computer skills and knowledge of GIS open up additional opportunities outside of general field work. 

What part of your job is most satisfying?

I like being able to travel and explore the region while visiting different sites.

What part of your job do you find most challenging?

In this position, it’s important to have billable work. This is work that goes towards client projects and increases our company’s revenue. A portion of my billable work is scheduled, the rest is up to me to find by reaching out to folks higher up in the company within and without my office. It can be intimidating sending cold call emails.

What type of training was offered for your position?

The OHSA HAZWOPER training is required for this position. If not previously acquired, the company would pay for the training and the hours to complete it. However, it is recommended to complete this training prior to applying for positions as it will put candidates higher on the hiring list and may sometimes provoke a bonus on hiring. After I started, I was also required to complete American Petroleum Institute, BP, and Antea Group specific training. These trainings covered everything from working at heights, working in confined spaces, hot work, and defensive driving. Specific equipment and software training occurs as it becomes relevant.

What are possible career paths/promotional opportunities from your current position?

Most advancement opportunities with Antea seem to revolve around increasing the management of sites and clients. However, one to two years in entry level environmental work can open up doors to outside positions as well.

Advice for current students?

From what I’ve seen, our major has a slightly lower credit limit than other majors at the University. This is a really great opportunity to either accomplish a related minor or dig deeper into specific Earth Science topics in grad-level courses. Related minors that I’ve heard are helpful include Geographic Information Systems; Environmental Science, Policy, and Management; Water Science, Soil, and Computer Science.

Anything else you'd like to share?

Extracurriculars during school are definitely helpful down the line. Whether it’s jobs, student groups, or sports, each can help you build skills and experiences that will help you discover what you’d like to do and net the career you want.