What do geologists do?

Geologists are employed in a diverse range of jobs in many different industries. Some work in the field, some in offices and others have a mixture of both. In a nutshell, Geologists work to better understand the Earth, but what do they actually do? 

Below are some examples of the tasks Geologists carry out in their respective industries.

Geological maps

Mapping & Fieldwork

This is a field-based task many geologists undertake. Different types of field mapping will look for different aspects of the rocks of a particular area.

Find out about mapping and fieldwork during an undergraduate degree


Again, this is often a field-based activity undertaken with geological drilling. Geologists describe rock extracted by drills to understand the geology below the surface. Logging of sedimentary or volcanic rocks above ground is also used to study past environmental changes or accurately record sampling locations.

Some types of logging include:


Laboratory Work

Many geologists undertake laboratory work in their careers. A lot of what we know about the geology of the world and other planets has been discovered in laboratories. Researchers and those who work for some geology-related companies work in laboratories. There are also some geoscientists employed specifically in commercial laboratories that a huge number of geology-related companies (e.g. mining, oil & gas, engineering and environmental companies) use to acquire data. 

Laboratory work can include:

Computer-based work

All geologists will do a lot of their work on computer, often using specialist software, mostly in offices but field-based computer work is becoming more common. This can include:

Computer generated 3D model of an ore deposit 

Report Writing

Summarising all the findings from all the tasks mentioned above in a concise yet comprehensive manner is crucial for all scientists, and geologists are no different. Reports can range from short daily updates to supervisors or colleagues (such as drilling progress reports) all the way to some very hefty documents of several hundred pages (such as PhD dissertations or economic assessments for turning exploration targets into active oil fields or mines).