How To Become A Volcanologist
Volcanologists are a type of geologist, who specialize in studying volcanoes. Volcanologists are interested in observing eruptions and collecting samples. They study the history of volcanoes, their chemistry, and try to predict when volcanoes will erupt in the future, so that they can plan for the safety of populations living near the volcanoes. This is a job that is very hands-on and involves some risk. If you enjoy working outdoors and conducting research in a laboratory, a career as a volcanologist could be a good choice for you.
Why Become A Volcanologist
Volcanoes are just one of many amazing geographic formations on our planet. They cause eruptions and explosions, they spew fiery lava and fill our air with smoke. To many people, volcanoes are a mystery and a wonder.
There are many specialties within this field that a volcanologist can get into. A physical volcanologist goes to volcanoes while they are erupting, studying the eruption itself, its past history and predicting future eruptions. A petrologist studies the rocks and minerals that are emitted during the eruption. A geodist studies the physical changes that happens inside of a volcano during this process. A geochemist studies the gases emitted from volcanoes and how they are impacting climate change on our planet. All of these specialties are related and some of the duties overlap. It is important to figure out which aspect of this field you find most appealing.
This is a good career for people who find volcanoes fascinating, who are passionate about the environment and working outdoors, and who enjoy working in the science field.
Volcanologists should possess the following qualities and skills:
- Enjoys the Outdoors
- Risk Taker
- Physical Fitness
- Problem Solver
- Good Communicator
Volcanologist Work Environment
As a volcanologist, you work up close and personal with your subjects – volcanoes! Your job involves visiting active and dormant volcanoes. During your visits, you collect samples, gather data, observe the scene, and report your findings. You bring your samples and data back to your research laboratory, where you can study it further.
You design experiments and analyze your findings. You must wear protective clothing, because the temperature of a volcano can reach approximately 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Due to the nature of this job, there is some risk involved. You must enjoy working outdoors. This job may involve traveling in order to study many volcanoes; you may even travel internationally.
The median annual salary for geoscientists was $89,780 in 2016, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. This category includes volcanologists.
There are many considerations to take into account when thinking about salary. First, one must consider geographic location. A volcanologist will earn a higher salary when working in some states than others. Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington all have volcanic activity, and volcanologists will find more work in these states. There’s not many positions available for volcanologists in Iowa.
Many volcanologists work for government offices, universities, or research institutions. Because of the budgets of these facilities, there may be limits on the salaries available. People in these positions may have to apply for grants in order to conduct research.
Volcanologist Career Outlook
Employment for geoscientists is expected to grow by 10 percent from 2014 to 2024. This is slightly more growth than average compared to other occupations in the United States. This category includes volcanologists.
There is an increasing demand in environmentalism. Government agencies and other facilities are on the lookout for specialists who can help with environmental protection safety. Volcanologists will be responsible for helping with researching and planning. This is a specialized field, and there may be more people applying than there are job positions available. People who have more experience and education will stand the best chance at being hired.
If you are interested in becoming a volcanologist, read below for more information.
Step 1: Undergraduate degree. You must have at least a bachelor’s degree to start a career as a volcanologist. There are some entry-level positions that you can receive with a bachelor’s degree. Choose majors such as geology, geoscience, physics, chemistry, biology, environmental studies, or other related subjects. The courses that you take will give you a strong foundation within the field. It takes four years to receive your bachelor’s degree.
Step 2: Graduate education. While there are some entry-level positions open to those with bachelor’s degrees, and graduate education is not required, most positions are available to those with more advanced education. You will find more jobs available if you choose to pursue a doctorate in the field. Many volcanologists work in universities and institutions conducting research or teaching in their department. A graduate level program will provide you with more in-depth coursework, as well as experience in the field, conducting research. It takes about five years to earn a PhD in Geology.