SOC Code: 19-2042.01


Pay Band(s): 4 and 5  (Salary Structure)


Standard Occupational Description: Study composition, structure, and history of the earth's crust; examine rocks, minerals, and fossil remains to identify and determine the sequence of processes affecting the development of the earth; apply knowledge of chemistry, physics, biology, and mathematics to explain these phenomena and to help locate mineral and petroleum deposits and underground water resources; prepare geologic reports and maps; and interpret research data to recommend further action for study.


Geologist positions in the Commonwealth are assigned to the following Roles in the
Life and Physical Science Career Group:

Scientist I

Scientist II


While Geologists within the Commonwealth are all located within the Life and Physical Science Career Group, individuals may want to pursue other opportunities within the Commonwealth depending upon individual training, education, knowledge, skills, abilities, and interests.   


Other Career Group(s) that may be of interest are:

Environmental Services

Engineering Services

Minerals Regulatory Services

Natural Resources

Agricultural Services

Laboratory and Research Technician and Specialists


(Technical and Functional Expertise)



Note: The technical and functional skills listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Geologists commonly recognized by most employers.  Typically, you will not be required to have all of the skills listed to be a successful performer.  Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.


1.      Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.

2.      Using mathematics to solve problems.

3.      Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

4.      Communicating effectively in writing and orally as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

5.      Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.

6.      Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

7.      Determining the kind of tools and equipment needed to do a job.

8.      Generating or adapting equipment and technology to serve user needs.

9.      Analyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.

10.  Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.




Note: The technical and functional knowledge statements listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Geologists commonly recognized by most employers.  Typically, you will not be required to have all of the knowledge listed to be a successful performer.  Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.


The Knowledge of:

1.      And prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.

2.      Arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.

3.      Practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.

4.      Chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.

5.      Structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

6.      Principles and methods for describing the features of land, sea, and air masses, including their physical characteristics, locations, interrelationships, and distribution of plant, animal, and human life.

7.      Machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.

8.      Historical events and their causes, indicators, and effects on civilizations and cultures.



Note: The technical and functional abilities listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Geologists commonly recognized by most employers.  Typically, you will not be required to have all of the abilities listed to be a successful performer.  Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.


The Ability to:


1.      Communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.

2.      Read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.

3.      Combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).

4.      Communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.

5.      Apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.

6.      Choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.

7.      Add, subtract, multiply, or divide quickly and correctly.

8.      Remember information such as words, numbers, pictures, and procedures.

9.      Listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.

10.  Arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).

11.  Work with other people, agencies, and serve the public.




Note:  The following is a list of sample tasks typically performed by Geologists.  Employees in this occupation will not necessarily perform all of the tasks listed. 


1.      Analyze and interpret geological, geochemical, and geophysical information from sources such as survey data, well logs, boreholes, and aerial photos.

2.      Identify risks for natural disasters such as mud slides, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions, and provide advice on ways in which potential damage can be mitigated.

3.      Investigate the composition, structure, and history of the Earth's crust through the collection, examination, measurement, and classification of soils, minerals, rocks, and fossil remains.

4.      Measure characteristics of the Earth, such as gravity and magnetic fields, using equipment such as seismographs, gravimeters, torsion balances, and magnetometers.

5.      Plan and conduct geological, geochemical, and geophysical field studies and surveys; sample collection; and drilling and testing programs used to collect data for research and/or application.

6.      Test industrial diamonds and abrasives, soil, or rocks in order to determine their geological characteristics, using optical, x-ray, heat, acid, and precision instruments.

7.      Advise construction firms and government agencies on dam and road construction, foundation design, and land use and resource management.

8.      Assess ground and surface water movement in order to provide advice regarding issues such as waste management, route and site selection, and the restoration of contaminated sites.

9.      Communicate geological findings by writing research papers, participating in conferences and on teams, and/or teaching geological science at universities.

10.  Conduct geological and geophysical studies to provide information for use in regional development, site selection, and the development of public works projects.




Like people, occupations have traits or characteristics.  These characteristics give important clues about the nature of the work and work environment, and give you an opportunity to match your own personal interests to a specific occupation.  When you choose a job in an occupation that matches your own interests you have taken an important step in planning a successful and rewarding career.


The occupation of Geologist has Investigative, Realistic and Conventional characteristics as described below:


Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Conventional — Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.




Generally this is not required for Geologist positions in state government. However personal growth and career progression may be enhanced by becoming a licensed geologist.


To become a licensed geologist in Virginia, an applicant must: be of good ethical character; have a Bachelor's degree (or higher) from an accredited college or university with a major in geology or the sciences, or have completed 30 semester hours equivalent in geological science courses leading to a major in geology; have seven years of work experience as specified by the Board; and pass an examination. The examination may be waived for individuals meeting specified requirements of the Board. The Board may also recognize by reciprocity a license or certificate granted by another jurisdiction.

For more information see the Department of Professional and
Occupational Regulation, Board for Geology, web site:



The Department of Labor provides the following information:


Geoscientists study the composition, structure, and other physical aspects of the Earth. With the use of sophisticated instruments and by analyzing the composition of the earth and water, geoscientists study the Earth's geologic past and present. Many geoscientists are involved in searching for oil and gas, while others work closely with environmental scientists in preserving and cleaning up the environment.


 Numerous specialties that further differentiate the type of work geoscientists do fall under the two major disciplines of geology and geophysics. For example, petroleum geologists explore for oil and gas deposits by studying and mapping the subsurface of the ocean or land. They use sophisticated geophysical instrumentation and computers to interpret geological information. Engineering geologists apply geologic principles to the fields of civil and environmental engineering, offering advice on major construction projects and assisting in environmental remediation and natural hazard reduction projects. Mineralogists analyze and classify minerals and precious stones according to their composition and structure.


A bachelor's degree is adequate for a few entry-level positions, but geoscientists increasingly need a master's degree in a natural science. A master's degree also is the minimum educational requirement for most entry-level research positions in private industry, Federal agencies, and State geological surveys. A doctoral degree is necessary for most high-level research positions.


Traditional geoscience courses emphasizing classical geologic methods and topics (such as mineralogy, petrology, paleontology, stratigraphy, and structural geology) are important for all geoscientists. Persons studying physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, engineering, or computer science may also qualify for some geoscience positions if their course work includes study in geology or natural sciences.


Computer skills are essential for prospective geoscientists; students who have some experience with computer modeling, data analysis and integration, digital mapping, remote sensing, and geographic information systems will be the most prepared entering the job market. A knowledge of the Geographic Information System (GIS) and Global Positioning System (GPS)—a locator system that uses satellites—also is very helpful. Some employers seek applicants with field experience, so a summer internship may be beneficial to prospective geoscientists.


The American Geological Institute's web site provides more information:


The State Council of Higher Education provides a list of Virginia educational institutions offering programs in geology at their web site:

The Department of Mines, Mineral and Energy, and the Virginia Department of Transportation are two of the primary agencies that offer careers for geologists. For more information on career opportunities visit their web sites.




Competencies are a set of identified behaviors, knowledge, skills, and abilities that directly and positively impact the success of employees and the organization. Competencies can be observed and measured.  When consistently demonstrated, competencies make employees particularly effective in their work.  Competencies help lay out a road map to career success.  You can use the Commonwealth Competencies to help improve your individual performance by adopting behaviors that make high performing employees successful in their jobs. In this way, you can use the Commonwealth Competencies for your further professional development.


The Commonwealth Competencies are:


1.      Technical and Functional Expertise

2.      Understanding the Business     

3.      Achieving Results

4.      Serving the Customer

5.      Teamwork

6.      Interpersonal and Communication Skills

7.      Leadership and Personal Effectiveness


The above competencies may be applied to employees throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.  They can be rank-ordered by agencies and hiring managers to represent the needs of a specific job.  The rank ordering will change depending upon the occupation, an organization's priorities, the actual job requirements, and the supervisor's preferences. 


Career success is both about what you do (applying your technical knowledge, skills, and ability) and how you do it (the consistent behaviors you demonstrate and choose to use) while interacting and communicating with others.  Hopefully, by studying the Commonwealth competencies, identifying your developmental opportunities, and working to refine your own competence, you can take charge of your career!


For additional information about the Commonwealth Competencies go to:  For the competencies, we first list the competencies and then define each.  Finally, we list competency indicators; to describe what successful performance looks like. 




Career opportunities in the Commonwealth are not limited to moving “up” to the next highest role and pay band, changing positions, or to becoming a supervisor.  That's because most roles describe a broad group of occupationally related positions that perform a range of work that requires increased knowledge and skills.  For that reason, Commonwealth roles describe the career paths within the same or higher-level role for the same or different Career Group.  The broad salary range and the Commonwealth's pay practices provide flexibility in recognizing career development and advancement. (Salary Structure)


For example: Geologist





Manager Roles


Scientist I





Scientist II



Scientist Manager I





Scientist Manager II





Scientist Manager III












Sample Career Path


Scientist I

This Scientist I role provides career tracks for Geologists that perform work in a laboratory, in the field, and/or for scientific research. Employees' responsibilities range from entry-level performing standardized scientific tests and research functions using established protocols, to performing independent analysis/studies and serving as technical advisors or lead workers. Employees conduct research, field and/or technical investigations and surveys, laboratory and/or statistical analyses and data interpretation.


Scientist II

This Scientist II role provides career tracks for Geologists that perform a preponderance of advanced work and serve as an expert in a laboratory, in the field, and/or for research; or, for scientist supervisors. The first career track in this role is for employees performing complex scientific research projects or program oversight having a broad scope of responsibility. The second career track is for scientists that continue to deliver scientific services while assuming supervision of professional scientific staff and performing administrative responsibilities.


Scientist Manager I

The Scientist Manager I role provides career tracks for managers in a laboratory or scientific research setting. Employees plan, manage and evaluate the work of professional staff working in one or more disciplines; establish program goals; establish and monitor budgets; develop and implement technical methodologies, section objectives, policies and practices; allocate staff and resources; ensure compliance with government regulations, quality control standards and safety procedures; prepare research proposals; prepare technical reports and papers or develop grant contract proposals.


Scientist Manager II

The Scientist Manager II role provides career tracks for senior level to director level managers with responsibilities in a laboratory or scientific research setting. Employees have responsibility for an agency-wide laboratory operation; serve as assistant director of a statewide laboratory; or serve as a manager over multiple operations within a statewide laboratory. Some employees direct statewide scientific research operations or multidisciplinary research operations.


Scientist Manager III

The Scientist Manager III role provides career tracks for executives that serve as directors of scientific research centers responsible for diverse research programs or, for a statewide-consolidated scientific laboratory responsible for diverse testing, reporting and research programs. Employees direct statewide research programs and strategic research direction through subordinate managers. The results of which are shared statewide, nationally and/or internationally with research groups, agencies, businesses and associations. Employees may direct a statewide program that provides analytical support to local, state and federal human and animal health, law enforcement, consumer protection and environmental programs.



O*NET (Occupational Information Network)

Virginia Employment Commission

Career One Stop

Virginia Career Resource Network