Stratigraphy is a branch of geology, which specializes in the study of rock layers, called strata, and the layering of these rocks over a period of time, called stratification. Scientists who specialize in stratigraphy are called stratigraphers. Stratigraphers are especially interested in volcanic rocks and sedimentary rocks. In order to become a stratigrapher, a person must have at least a bachelor’s degree.
Why Become a Stratigrapher
There are three main disciplines where stratigraphy is used:
Stratigraphers can use their knowledge to help scientists understand the history of past civilizations. They can understand how people may have used the land and what the area looked like many years ago. Using their research and computer skills, they can determine when lands were occupied and when they were abandoned. They can understand what environmental factors led to the growth or decline of an area. These are just a few ways in which stratigraphy is useful.
As a stratigrapher, you will plan and carry out field studies. You will often visit locations to collect samples or data. You will draw charts or renderings for yourself at the job site. This will often require you to travel to various job sites. You will check job sites for quality and make sure everything is being conducted appropriately.
Once back at your office or laboratory, you will write scientific reports about things you have observed. You will use your computer software, such as GIS, to analyze data. You will analyze the composition of rock samples with microscopes and other equipment. You may even go to conferences, speaking about your findings.
Stratigraphers should possess the following qualities and skills:
Attention to detail
Enjoys working outside
Stratigrapher Work Environment
Many stratigraphers work in the field, working on job sites where they are needed. About a quarter of all stratigraphers work in the oil and gas extraction industries, working in oil rigging sites. When out in the field, stratigraphers work to check quality control and make sure everything is working properly. They carry out field studies and collect data.
They collect samples and analyze them back at the laboratory. They take drawings and renderings for their own use. Stratigraphers must travel to where they work is; many stratigraphers are employed in states such as Texas and Oklahoma, due to their high level of oil activity.
When they are not in the field, stratigraphers are in their offices or laboratories. Engineering services firms are popular employers of stratigraphers. This job is full time with regular hours. It may involve traveling. This job often includes working outdoors in all types of weather. This job involves working as part of a team of other scientists.
The median annual salary for a stratigrapher was $89,780 in 2016, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.
As with many occupations, the salary for a stratigrapher can vary depending on which industry a person decides to be employed in. Stratigraphers working inside of the oil and gas industries earned median salaries of $129,000 in 2016.
Stratigraphers who chose to work as college or university professors earned about half that rate, at $62,000 annually. It is important to think about the industry you want to work in when thinking about salary. If you have additional experience and education, and may be able to earn a higher salary.
Stratigrapher Career Outlook
Employment for stratigraphers is expected to grow by 10 percent from 2014 to 2024, which is faster than most other jobs in the United States.
Many science disciplines use stratigraphers, using geology, archaeology, and soil science. Stratigraphers help tell us more about the earth and how it was formed. Stratigraphers can use their knowledge of science and history to help others make scientific advancements.
If you would like to have a career as a stratigrapher, read below for more information.
Step 1: Undergraduate education. If you want to become a stratigrapher, you will first need to earn a bachelor’s degree. Choose from programs such as geology, archaeology, soil science, environmental science, or any other related program. Programs in the sciences will provide a strong foundation and help you realize if this is a good career path for you. Computer knowledge is essential for stratigraphers. During these years, you will learn about GIS, computer modeling, and digital mapping. It takes four years to receive your bachelor’s degree.
Step 2: Graduate degree. You will have more career opportunities available for you if you decide to pursue a graduate degree. Choose a program such as geology or archaeology. Some universities may even have a degree in stratigraphy. Research universities that are well known for their programs, apply, get accepted and enroll.
During this program, you will receive advanced coursework in this field. You will also have the opportunity to carry out your own research in this field. It will take about three years to receive a master’s degree.