Geologists are experts in the structure of soils and rocks and the processes that shaped the Earth. They may specialise in natural hazards such as earthquakes, landslides or volcanoes, or in the location of underground resources such as oil, gas and minerals.

There are two closely related job roles:

  • Geophysicists are also interested in earth conditions and processes, but have more expertise in mathematical models and computer-based analysis.
  • Engineering geologists apply their geological knowledge to engineering situations such as foundations for buildings, major earthworks for road projects, mining and dams.

The greatest increase in demand for geologists and geophysicists is from the private sector, where many work for energy and mining companies or specialise in engineering geology.

Growth in oil exploration in New Zealand and increased interest in developing our large geothermal energy resources has created more demand for people with earth sciences

Geologists also work as researchers in universities and Crown research institutes, especially GNS, which focuses on geological resources, nuclear sciences and natural hazards, and NIWA, the National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research.

Pay rates depend on qualifications and experience:

  • $40-50,000 starting salary, with a Bachelor's degree
  • $55-75,000 in a research role, with a Master's degree
  • $75-94,000 in a research role, with a PhD
  • Salaries in the private sector may be considerably more

Key qualifications for work as a geologist:

  • Bachelor of Science in Geology, Geophysics or Earth Sciences
  • A Master's degree or PhD may be required for research roles

Recommended school subjects:

  • Calculus
  • Physics
  • Statistics & Modelling
  • Chemistry
  • English
  • Geography

Careers New Zealand: Geologist

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Geologist: People who work in this role

  • Hannah Berger

    Geo-Environmental Scientist , Hannah Berger at work

    Katie Jones

    Remote Sensing & 3D Geology Technician, Katie Jones at work

    Ben Moorhouse

    , Ben Moorhouse at work

    Jacqui McCord

    Hardware Engineer, Jacqui McCord at work
  • Sophie Milloy

    Graduate Safety & Risk Engineer, Sophie Milloy at work

    Delia Strong

    Geology Technician, Delia Strong at work

    Amber Daniels

    Geologist, Amber Daniels at work

    Rose Turnbull

    Rutherford Postdoctoral Fellow, Rose Turnbull at work
  • Alex McCoy-West

    Geothermal Geologist, Alex McCoy-West at work

    Sarah Milicich

    Geothermal Geologist, Sarah Milicich at work

    Chelsea Morrison

    Mine Geologist, Chelsea Morrison at work

    Gillian Holmes

    Intermediate Hydrogeologist, Gillian Holmes at work
  • Simon Robinson

    Exploration Geologist, Simon Robinson at work

    Vanessa Brown (née Coombe)

    Graduate Hydrogeologist, Vanessa Brown (née Coombe) at work

Geologist: Companies that employ people in this job role

  • GNS Science
    GNS Science
    Tonkin & Taylor
    Tonkin & Taylor
  • 4Sight Consulting
    4Sight Consulting
    Pattle Delamore Partners
    Pattle Delamore Partners
  • Riley Consultants
    Riley Consultants
    Davis Ogilvie
    Davis Ogilvie
    Opus International Consultants
    Opus International Consultants
  • Holcim Cement
    Holcim Cement

Futureintech is an initiative of Engineering New Zealand, funded by Callaghan Innovation