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What job opportunities are opened up if I get a minor in geology? Would getting a minor in biology open up more doors?

I am stuck between the two majors! #biology #geology

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Xinping’s Answer

You are considering a minor’s Biology! You are also considering a Geology degree! The realms of Biology and Geology are both very exciting, and there are so many career opportunities to explore. I graduated with a Biology major in mid 2000s. Having seen many Biology major graduates from 1990s ended Witt director’s position in large Pharmaceutical companies, I was prepared to follow the same path. Well the career path foe Biology majors graduating after the year 2000 have been very rough. It has been almost 15 years since I graduated, many of my classmates just stated their first real job after years of laboring as Postdocs. I haven’t seen or heard anyone with a Biology major getting jobs easily. Unless they majored in Biostatistics. Most of my classmates have turned to working in finance industry.
However, I have seen many Geology majors getting jobs though. Perhaps Geology is not bad at all.
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Jonathan’s Answer

This depends on two things: 1) what is going to be your major, and 2) what is your passion? Outside of academia your minor only holds so much weight. The benefit of either biology or geology is that they are science-based and teaches you the scientific method. This is crucial for demonstrating to future employers your ability to think critically and analytically.


There are always opportunities available for either study. Full disclosure, I am a geologist but will try to keep my bias to a minimum. The field of biology opens up a lot of doors in the higher education and research areas. If you want to work for federal groups like NOAA, NASA, National Park Service, Center for Disease Control, Department of Health, EPA, I'd say there are more biology-based opportunities there. These positions tend to be a lot of fun and field-oriented, but not the best paying. In the private industry there's always pharmaceuticals and medicine, wetland scientists, wildlife scientists, zoologists, and plenty more.


Geologists tend to have the higher average salaries because there's a lot more money in oil and gas. However, you work long hours, typically out in the middle of nowhere. But there are plenty of geologist positions available at those federal organizations I mentioned above, too. On the private side, there are geotechnical experts (those that prevent buildings from collapsing), hazard specialists (monitoring earthquakes, landslides, etc), and environmental geologists (those that clean up after the oil and gas industry).


So its really just a matter of what your major is going to be,, and figure out how to tie your minor in with that.

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Keith’s Answer

Sadly, employment does not work like you think it does, and colleges do not prepare students for the real world. The idea of a major and minor is a fiction.

I had a classmate in college who got his BS in geology and then got a MBA thinking he would be a shoe in for a job at a major oil company. Wrong.

Most companies hiring scientists want an advanced degree like a Masters of Science to be a "professional" rather than a geotechnician which is a BS degree. Having a major in geology for instance will get you hired as a geological technician doing grunt work, sample collection and lab work, with no real future for advancement.

An MS degree on the other hand opens the door to doing problem solving which is what graduate school teaches you. A PhD is usually required for research for the same reason. A BS degree teaches you concepts and facts but not real problem solving skills. You can identify rocks and minerals, know how glaciers work, how fluvial and beaches processes work, and how weathering occurs and how mountains are formed, but you are not taught how to use that knowledge to do practical things and solving problems which is what people will pay you for.

At the BS or BA level, the number of class hours to make something a minor is so low, you really do not know enough to do much with it. For instance, I started out as a history major, got an AA degree in history, which was really useless. I had so many history and english hours that when I changed to geology, I had to take another thirty credit hours to make up for what I did not have.

When you go looking for a job, the human resource department are the gate keepers. They filter resumes by using computer apps the look at your resume and compare it to the job description they were given by the hiring manager. The more "key words" you have on your resume that match those on the job description that they have entered into the app to teach it what to look for, the higher the score and them more likely your resume will be selected to go to the manager resulting in an interview. So unless the job description says, that it would be nice for an applicant to have classes in archaeology, or biology too, and it probably won't, they it will make no difference if you have a minor or not. They would much rather see you have those additional credit hours in the area that you are applying for. They want specialists, experts in an area or expertise, not generalists with a lot of knowledge on a bunch of stuff but not deep enough to matter.

It is one of my pet peves that colleges and high schools do not prepare students to intelligently select colleges and majors so that they have marketable skills, and then how to intelligently look for a job afterwards.

Would you hire a home builder that was not successful in selling any homes to build one for you? No? Then why would you select a college to teach you geology or any other subject if their past graduates are not successful in finding jobs in the career they studied for? Colleges do not care. They only want your tuition money. A college that does care will survey former students about their careers and will proudly tell you how many of their graduates were successful in landing jobs in their majors. If the alumni office or the Dean's office of that particular school, the school of Geology, or Biology, cannot tell you those numbers, they don't care or are hiding the truth, so run away as fast as you can. If not you will probably join the thousands of graduates who are tens of thousands of dollars in debt and cannot get a job with the degree for which they paid so much.

Do your homework. Going to college and selecting a degree major is just like buying a care or a house. Do your due dillegence. If you don't and end up with a worthless degree, you cannot blame anyone but your self. Most colleges and universities have a huge conflict of interest. They want to fill seats, and get tuition money. To do that they use a lot of nefarious techniques: lowering grade standards to attract students. Lying by omission: not telling students there are no jobs in the career paths they are studying, because the market has changed and the university does not want to change a curriculum course of study they spent money formulating and have tenured professors teaching that they cannot fire. So in essence they continue to teach dead end courses of study with no employment future. It all comes down to the money.
I was a hiring manager and hired a lot of people. I saw students, even MS students who worked long and hard on degrees that were essentially useless because their professors wanted free labor in areas that no one was willing to pay somebody to do. So the students were led down dead end rabbit holes and taught skills that were out of date and obsolete. I met one recent graduate with a specialty that I had worked in in the early 1980's, some 24 years earlier and was rarely used by anyone anymore. She was only finding that out. But her professor was still doing research and publishing papers on it, like someone cared.

So focus no one subject and get as specialized as you can on that, and get a masters degree.
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