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Career and Education Opportunities for Geological Specialists in Chicago, Illinois

There is a wide variety of career and education opportunities for geological specialists in the Chicago, Illinois area. There are currently 200 jobs for geological specialists in Illinois and this is projected to grow 18% to about 240 jobs by 2016. This is better than the national trend for geological specialists, which sees this job pool growing by about 17.5% over the next eight years. Geological specialists generally study the composition, structure, and other physical aspects of the earth.

Income for geological specialists is about $31 hourly or $66,160 per year on average in Illinois. Nationally, their income is about $38 hourly or $79,160 yearly. Earnings for geological specialists are not quite as good as earnings in the general category of Physical Sciences in Illinois and better than general Physical Sciences category earnings nationally. Geological specialists work in a variety of jobs, including: geophysicist, paleontologist, and invertebrate paleontologist.

The Chicago area is home to 180 schools of higher education, including seven within twenty-five miles of Chicago where you can get a degree as a geological specialist. Geological specialists usually hold a Bachelor's degree, so you can expect to spend about four years training to become a geological specialist if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Geological Specialist

In general, geological specialists study the composition, structure, and other physical aspects of the earth. They also may use geological, physics, and mathematics knowledge in exploration for oil, gas, or underground water; or in waste disposal, land reclamation, or other environmental problems.

Geological specialists analyze and interpret geological, geochemical, and geophysical data from sources such as survey data and aerial photos. They also analyze and interpret geological data, using computer software. Finally, geological specialists search for and review research articles or environmental and technical reports.

Every day, geological specialists are expected to be able to read and understand documents and reports. They need to listen to and understand others in meetings. It is also important that they articulate ideas and problems.

It is important for geological specialists to formulate and conduct geological, geochemical, and geophysical field studies and surveys or drilling and testing programs used to collect data for research or application. They are often called upon to locate and estimate probable natural gas and mineral ore deposits and underground water resources, using aerial photographs or research and survey results. They also identify deposits of construction materials, and assess the materials' characteristics and suitability for use as concrete aggregates or in other applications. They are sometimes expected to ready geological maps, cross-sectional diagrams and reports concerning mineral extraction and resource management, using results of field work and laboratory research. Somewhat less frequently, geological specialists are also expected to assess ground and surface water movement to furnish advice regarding issues such as waste management, route and site selection, and the restoration of contaminated sites.

Geological specialists sometimes are asked to layout geological mine maps, monitor mine structural integrity, or advise and monitor mining crews. They also have to be able to communicate geological findings by writing research papers, participating in conferences, or teaching geological science at universities and design applied software for the analysis and interpretation of geological data. And finally, they sometimes have to measure characteristics of the Earth, such as gravity and magnetic fields, using equipment such as seismographs and magnetometers.

Like many other jobs, geological specialists must be able to absorb the factors involved and a problem and provide a well thought out solution and have exceptional integrity.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Chicago include:

  • Astronomer. Observe, research, and interpret celestial and astronomical phenomena to increase basic knowledge and apply such information to practical problems.
  • Chemist. Conduct qualitative and quantitative chemical analyses or chemical experiments in laboratories for quality or process control or to develop new products or knowledge.
  • Environmental Health and Safety Specialist. Conduct research or perform investigation for the purpose of identifying, abating, or eliminating sources of pollutants or hazards that affect either the environment or the health of the population. Utilizing knowledge of various scientific disciplines may collect, synthesize, and take action based on data derived from measurements or observations of air, food, and other sources.
  • Geographic Information Systems Analyst. Study nature and use of areas of earth's surface, relating and interpreting interactions of physical and cultural phenomena. Conduct research on physical aspects of a region, including land forms, climates, soils, plants and animals, and conduct research on the spatial implications of human activities within a given area, including social characteristics, economic activities, and political organization, as well as researching interdependence between regions at scales ranging from local to global.
  • Hydrologist. Research the distribution, circulation, and physical properties of underground and surface waters; study the form and intensity of precipitation, its rate of infiltration into the soil, movement through the earth, and its return to the ocean and atmosphere.
  • Scientist. Study the chemical composition and physical principles of living cells and organisms, their electrical and mechanical energy, and related phenomena. May conduct research to further understanding of the complex chemical combinations and reactions involved in metabolism, reproduction, and heredity. May determine the effects of foods, drugs, and other substances on tissues and vital processes of living organisms.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Geological Specialist Training

University of Illinois at Chicago - Chicago, IL

University of Illinois at Chicago, 601 S Morgan, Chicago, IL 60607. University of Illinois at Chicago is a large university located in Chicago, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 25,709 students and an admission rate of 60%. University of Illinois at Chicago has bachelor's degree, master's degree, and doctor's degree programs in Geology/Earth Science which graduated twelve, six, and one students respectively in 2008.

Northeastern Illinois University - Chicago, IL

Northeastern Illinois University, 5500 N Saint Louis Ave, Chicago, IL 60625-4699. Northeastern Illinois University is a large university located in Chicago, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 11,193 students and an admission rate of 71%. Northeastern Illinois University has a bachelor's degree and a master's degree program in Geology/Earth Science.

University of Chicago - Chicago, IL

University of Chicago, 5801 S Ellis Ave, Chicago, IL 60637. University of Chicago is a large university located in Chicago, Illinois. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 14,620 students and an admission rate of 28%. University of Chicago has a bachelor's degree and a doctor's degree program in Geophysics and Seismology which graduated seven and three students respectively in 2008.

Indiana University-Northwest - Gary, IN

Indiana University-Northwest, 3400 Broadway, Gary, IN 46408-1197. Indiana University-Northwest is a small university located in Gary, Indiana. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 4,794 students and an admission rate of 80%. Indiana University-Northwest has a bachelor's degree program in Geology/Earth Science which graduated one student in 2008.

Wheaton College - Wheaton, IL

Wheaton College, 501 College Ave, Wheaton, IL 60187-5593. Wheaton College is a small college located in Wheaton, Illinois. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 2,915 students and an admission rate of 62%. Wheaton College has a bachelor's degree program in Geology/Earth Science.

Northwestern University - Evanston, IL

Northwestern University, 633 Clark St, Evanston, IL 60208. Northwestern University is a large university located in Evanston, Illinois. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 20,128 students and an admission rate of 27%. Northwestern University has bachelor's degree, master's degree, and doctor's degree programs in Geology/Earth Science which graduated one, zero, and zero students respectively in 2008.

Concordia University - River Forest, IL

Concordia University, 7400 Augusta, River Forest, IL 60305-1499. Concordia University is a small university located in River Forest, Illinois. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 4,185 students and an admission rate of 58%. Concordia University has a bachelor's degree program in Geology/Earth Science.

CERTIFICATIONS

ACSM Hydrographer Certification: ACSM - THSOA Hydrographer Certification is well-recognized and considered by many Federal, State and local agencies as well as private firms, seeking subcontractors when evaluating technical proposals for marine engineering, surveying, and construction.

For more information, see the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping - National Society of Professional Surveyors website.

Certified Ground Water Professional: The Ground Water Professional certification program began for AGWSE members in 1986.

For more information, see the National Ground Water Association website.

Erosion and Sediment Control Certification: This certification program was designed for engineering technicians engaged in all phases of erosion and sediment control work.

For more information, see the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies website.

LICENSES

LICENSED PROFESSIONAL GEOLOGIST

Licensing agency: Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation
Address: 320 West Washington, Springfield, IL 62786

Phone: (217) 782-8556
Website: Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation

LOCATION INFORMATION: Chicago, Illinois

Chicago, Illinois
Chicago, Illinois photo by Dschwen

Chicago is situated in Cook County, Illinois. It has a population of over 2,853,114, which has shrunk by 1.5% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Chicago, 114, is well above the national average. New single-family homes in Chicago are valued at $200,500 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, three hundred eighty-one new homes were built in Chicago, down from eight hundred seventy the previous year.

The three big industries for women in Chicago are health care, educational services, and professional, scientific, and technical services. For men, it is construction, professional, scientific, and technical services, and accommodation and food services. The average commute to work is about 35 minutes. More than 25.5% of Chicago residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 10.0%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Chicago is 11.6%, which is greater than Illinois's average of 10.5%.

The percentage of Chicago residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 57.6%, is more than both the national and state average. Southlawn United Methodist Church, Southern Missionary Baptist Church and Lakeside Evangelical Church are all churches located in Chicago. The most common religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Muslim Estimate and the Lutheran Church.

Chicago is home to the Five Crossings and the Wrigley Field as well as Monticello Park and Wilson Playground. Shopping centers in the area include Lincoln Village Shopping Center, Market Place at Six Corners Shopping Center and Kimbark Plaza Shopping Center. Visitors to Chicago can choose from Extended Stay America, Embassy Suites Lakefront and Cottage Inn for temporary stays in the area.