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Career path change advice --- Geology?
Old 06-21-2018, 11:08 PM   #1
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Career path change advice --- Geology?

Hello all, I was an avid reader of this forum some years ago .. never a member. It was very helpful me in arranging my early retirement at age 50 and here I am now eight years later doing fine ... modestly retired, but comfortable and financially secure, due in part to some of the concepts and strategies I learned on here.

I seem to recall a number of people on here who had long careers in the physical sciences. To get to the point, I have a son who has just completed his first year in a Psychology PhD program at a topflight private university. Tuition/fees for his grad school are fully paid excepting living expenses. His 20k a year RA job covers living expenses and he has about 20k or so cash of his own. He put himself through undergrad on full scholarships. He was a Chemistry major his first two years of undergrad but switched majors as he just couldn't see a job in that field he wanted to make a career of ... not that he didn't have a knack for chemistry, he's academically accomplished in many areas.

So now he comes to a crossroads. After being in grad school for over a year he finds himself disillusioned with the whole psychology field and looking at going a different way. Not that he's doing poorly, his grades and performance reviews are fine. It's just a long row to hoe with three more years of grad school + internship/fellowship I don't know what all after ... for a relatively modest salary considering the academic and other work involved just to get to the point of being a fully licensed practicing Doctor of Clinical Psychology .. internship after 4 years of grad school, maybe a fellowship, professional licensure, etc - in a field he's come to realize he's just not all that into. And he's not interested in going into academia.

He has seized upon Geology now as an alternative career path .. something he did have quite an interest in at one time and even considered it as an undergrad major. He's still a Texas resident and it would be logistically and financially pretty easy to go back for a second Bachelor's degree in that .. about 4 semesters and that wouldn't be carrying a real heavy load of hours, 'cause he's got a lot of credits already.

If there is anyone with a background or particular knowledge about that career field (Geology) that might have insights as I try to help him through the decision process, your comments would be most welcome. I certainly know little of it myself. He would be looking at being a working Geologist, not an academic (why he has no interest in academia I don't know ... seeing as how he is so, well, "academically inclined-talented")

Thanks,

Also, if he does this ---- UT, A&M or ?
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Old 06-22-2018, 01:16 AM   #2
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Not a geologist, but I remember when I was trying to figure out my career, I really wanted to be an architect. I didn't know any, so I went to the yellow pages (yep, I'm that old) and started calling each one that was in town. I found one that would take the time to talk to me and I interviewed him. Turns out it wasn't as glamorous of a career choice as I wanted and chose a better one. I would suggest he try this. Most people are happy to talk about their career choice and help advise someone just starting out. Way better than just getting a few sentences from someone on the internet.
My $0.02
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Old 06-22-2018, 03:46 AM   #3
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As with most things, you can learn a lot by doing a general search on it. Most geology jobs are in oil, mining, government, or teaching. I would think that there are more options in the chemistry area, or chemical engineering.
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Old 06-22-2018, 04:21 AM   #4
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I think there will always be a demand for geologists, as it gets harder to extract things (oil, gas, ores) from the Earth. There are many areas of industry (and government) that need them.

My uncle retired from the USGS as a geologist and loved his career. He traveled a lot (all over the world) as part of his job, and that was another thing he enjoyed.
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Old 06-22-2018, 04:29 AM   #5
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If he plans to work in the oil industry he may also want to consider geophysics. Be aware the industry is very cyclical so it can lead to a tumultuous career through no fault of his own.
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Old 06-22-2018, 06:20 AM   #6
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If this was my son at this point I would encourage him to take a break from school and look for a job. Geology is door number 3 and it doesn't seem as if he has put enough thought into what that like would look like. I wouldn't encourage a kid to put 7 years into school and come out with just a bachelors degree.

I'd take the degree he has now and cast a net and see what jobs are out there and if real world experience could help me narrow my decision. Your boy is certainly on the ball since he had a degree and no debt, he has lots of options open to him.

In fact I'd encourage him to look for a job that has tuition benefits and start accumulating some business classes. It might seem boring but will open up a lot of doors in the future.
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Old 06-22-2018, 06:54 AM   #7
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Since he already has a BA, he should definitely pause for a year and not just re-upp in september in any field. Maybe do entry level work in the desired field for a few months, get a mentor, etc., before deciding on a new degree.

I would limit your input to guiding him through decision making, ie, not "here's what I found you can do with geology"..but more "what do you expect to do with geology, what can I do to help?" He should have good answers before you write another check.
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Old 06-22-2018, 07:04 AM   #8
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He can go to his university’s counseling center and take tests to see what would be a good career choice for him (maybe he has done this already?). Pretty big change from a chemistry major to psychology, and now to geology? Maybe he just likes being in school?
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Old 06-22-2018, 07:19 AM   #9
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My cousin is a geologist, and he found the profession cyclable--when so many in his field were laid off maybe 25 years ago. Geologists are once in high demand with the fracking and hunt for oil in central Texas around Midland. Starting salaries are $100k, which is good. But many geologists work in places I really wouldn't want to live--off the beaten path.

My geologist cousin (with a P.E.) long ago got into asbestos abatement, and has been very successful. With so many now in that field, so he switched over to mold abatement and inspector--since every commercial building sold in Texas has to have a mold study. And hurricanes in Galveston are very good for the few mold licensed inspectors. But after 9 Houston hospital deaths due to Legionare's Disease, my cousin is now mass testing water systems in large buildings--his new racket.

There are just so many different career options for science majors. And Texas remains one of the best places for jobs.
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Old 06-22-2018, 08:37 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bestwifeever View Post
... Maybe he just likes being in school?
Uh, not that's not it ... I can assure you. He has lots & lots of "school" ahead in his current path. So let's not question motives, please if you don't mind. (not meaning to be offensive with that comment.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aerides View Post
... He should have good answers before you write another check. ....
I've had to write very few checks for him in his young life, nor been asked to. He's mostly paid his own way through undergrad and grad school thus far. (90+% I would venture, not that I keep book on him in that regard, or would) Much to his credit. He has the resources to fund additional undergrad if he chooses to change his path and certainly has no interest in being a professional student. He has never had to take out a student loan and doubtful he would have to take out any to go back for four semesters. He is not afraid of having to work part-time while going to school. A "real" accredited fully-funded Psychology PhD program is, contrary to popular belief, hard, quite lengthy, and very competitive to get into in the first place. If you don't believe me go to online to Student/Doctor Network or Grad Cafe and read the PhD psychology section of that forum. I don't think changing one's path at age 23 is being flaky at all. All people in that age group / stage of life don't necessarily fit the stereotype many older folks like to put upon them. You know - kids nowadays, it wasn't like that when I was their age. It can be a quite intelligent thing to do IMO when for well-thought out valid reasons. Perhaps I should have had the sense to do so at that age? I could go far in depth about his very valid well thought out real-world reasons for his contemplated change of career path, but it's not why I asked the question so I'll spare you all

So again, let's not question motives please. I'm not trying to jump at anybody with that .. I've no doubt all comments thus far are well intentioned.

But I really didn't come here to talk about that. I was just looking for some perceptions on the physical sciences fields from those who have "been there, done that" or have direct experience with those who have. And I recall there were some people on here who had. He knows how to do research online. He has a cousin who is a metallurgist and just came back from the States working four years for a company in Norway (mining company, I think) very lucrative field apparently ... I will remind him of that to talk with her.

Thank you all for your comments thus far.
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Old 06-22-2018, 08:47 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Duke View Post
Uh, not that's not it ... I can assure you. He has lots & lots of "school" ahead in his current path. So let's not question motives, please if you don't mind. (not meaning to be offensive with that comment.)

Was just looking for some perceptions on the field from those who have "been there, done that" or have direct experience with those who have.
Motives, not sure what that means. The school environment is very different then work life. He knows school and has done well in school. According to the timeline you provided this would be his 3rd switch in 5 years....how can strangers on the internet point your boy towards a career path or job track when they don't even know him and everyone's experience is different.

If this was my offspring I'd be asking why he thinks geology is the answer when chemistry and pysch were not. I'm guessing there is not a lot of scholarship money available in situations where you are 5 years out of HS and going for a second BS degree.


What are your feelings about your DS seeming lack of direction on a career path.? The thing is, he's young he doesn't need to know now what he wants to do for the rest of his life.

You didn't address the idea of career counseling which was the main point of BWE post.
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Old 06-22-2018, 09:07 AM   #12
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Uh, not that's not it ... I can assure you. He has lots & lots of "school" ahead in his current path. So let's not question motives, please if you don't mind. (not meaning to be offensive with that comment.)



I've had to write very few checks for him in his young life, nor been asked to. Much to his credit.

Was just looking for some perceptions on the field from those who have "been there, done that" or have direct experience with those who have.
He’s obviously very bright so hope he figures it out. DS’s good friend’s dad is a geology consultant and flies all over the world for his clients after building his reputation for 40 years; good luck to your son.
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