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Cover picture— Much of the work of earth scientists is carried on in the field.

Employment Outlook for
Earth Scientists

Bulletin No. 1050
M a u r ic e J. T o b in , Secretary
E wan Clague , Commissioner

In cooperation with
For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U. S. Government Printing Office, Washington 25* D. C,

Price 30 cents


Letter of Transmittal
U nited S tates D epartm ent of L abor ,
B u reau of L abor S tatistics ,

Washington , D. C\, November 15, 1951 .

The S ecretary of L abo r :
I have the honor to transmit herewith a report on the employment outlook for
earth scientists. This is one of a series of reports made available through the
Bureau’s Occupational Outlook Service for use in the vocational counseling of young
people in school, veterans, and others interested in selecting an occupation. This
study was financed largely by the Veterans Administration, and the report was
originally published as a Veterans Administration pamphlet for use in vocational
rehabilitation and education activities.
In view of the essential contributions scientists make to the national defense
and welfare, it is important that information on employment opportunities in the
sciences be made available to young people possessing the necessary aptitudes for, and
interest in, such work. The Bureau, therefore, plans to issue a series of reports, of
which this is one, on the employment outlook in the natural sciences.
This study was conducted in the Bureau’s Division of Manpower and Employ­
ment Statistics, Branch of Occupational Studies, under the supervision of Helen
Wood. The report was prepared by Cora E. Taylor and Myron F. Lewis, with the
assistance of Kevin R. Rohan. The Bureau wishes to acknowledge the generous
assistance and cooperation received in connection with the study from the Geological
Survey of the Department of the Interior, the Coast and Geodetic Survey of the
Department of Commerce, and the Navy Hydrographic Office of the Department
of Defense; from the Association of American Geographers, the American Meteoro­
logical Society, the American Geological Institute, and the American Geophysical
Union; and from other organizations and individuals interested in the earth sciences.
Hon. M aurice J. T o bin ,

E w an C lague , Commissioner .

Secretary of Labor .

Size and growth of the field________________________________________________
Employment outlook_____________________________________________________
Nature of work______
Where employed_________________________________________________________
Education and training________
How to enter_____________
Employment outlook______________________________________
Nature of work______________________________________________
Where employed____________________________________________
Education and training____________________________________________________
How to enter____________________________________________________________
Employment outlook______________________________________________________
Nature of work__..._______________________________________
Where employed__________________________
Education and training____________________________________________________
How to enter. ____________________________________________________________
Employment outlook_________________________
Nature of work___________________________
Where employed_________________________________________________________
Education and training____________________________________________________
How to enter____________________________________________________________
Employment outlook______________________________________________________
Nature of work__________________________________________________________
Where employed______________________________________
Education and training____________________________________________________
How to enter__________
Employment outlook______________________________________________________
Starting salaries__________________________________________________________
Earnings of Ph. D. scientists__________
Salaries in college and university teaching_____________________
Federal Government salaries___________________________
Where to get further information__________________
Professional associations______________
Government sources__________________________




1. Doctorates conferred in the earth sciences by American universities._______ _____
2. Growth in membership of professional associations in earth sciences____ __________


Doctoral degrees awarded in all fields and the earth sciences, in selected years__ ___
Number of degrees conferred in geology, by type of degree, and number of institutions
reporting_____________ ___ ________ ___________________ ______________ ___
Number of degrees granted in geography, 1948-50----------------- -------------------------Median annual salaries of earth scientists with Ph. D. degrees and percent of scientists
working for major types of employers, 1948_______________________ _____ _____
Added professional income of earth scientists with Ph. D. degrees, by amount of regular
annual salary, 1948_____________________ ____ ______ ___________ _________
Average annual salaries of college teachers in selected institutions, 1948-49 and 1949-50.

2 . Number of students majoring in geology in the United States___________________ _







Employment Outlook For Earth Scientists
Men have always been interested in the nature
of the planet on which they live. Since ancient
times, traders, explorers, and pioneers have made
their way into unknown parts of the earth and
have sought to learn more about the lands they
discovered. When the early Greeks and Phoeni­
cians began to navigate the open seas, the success
of their journeys depended on accurate knowl­
edge of winds and weather, tides and currents, and
the location of rocks, shoals, and harbors. The
maps and charts used in that era were prepared
without the accurate instruments we have today,
but they record the progress made thousands of
years ago in compiling information on the sur­
face features of the earth.
In ancient times, people knew that valuable
metals and precious stones lay under the earth’s
surface. The discovery of these riches was more
or less accidental—they lacked the scientific
knowledge which is today basic to the w^orld-wide
search for such minerals as coal, oil, and uranium.
People in earlier centuries also speculated about
the causes of terrifying phenomena such as tidal
waves, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, and vol­
canic eruptions. But they had no way of finding
out the reasons for these occurrences. They
thought natural disasters occurred because the
gods were angry.
In the course of time knowledge of the earth
gradually increased. The earth sciences, however,
did not develop as a separate field of systematic
study until the nineteenth century, and they have
advanced most rapidly during the twentieth
Knowledge has now been accumulated to the
extent that it is no longer possible for one person
to become completely acquainted with all the fields
of study encompassed by the earth sciences. Three
subdivisions of this broad field have become gen­

erally recognized—geology, geography, and geo­
physics. Each of these subdivisions includes a
number of related, narrower specialties. Geolo­
gists may specialize, for example, in the study of
mineralogy and petrology (minerals or rocks), his­
torical geology, economic geology, or other such
closely related fields. Geographers may be experts
in political, cultural, economic, or historical
aspects of their science. Geophysicists may spe­
cialize in the study of volcanoes, earthquakes, the
ocean, the atmosphere, the shape, size, and mass of
the earth, the waters of the land areas of the earth,
or the magnetic forces around and within the
Specific divisions among earth science fields are
never clear cut. Each type of earth scientist deals
with problems concerning the other types. The
close relation between the various specialties is
reflected in educational institutions; in some uni­
versities, geographers, geologists, and geophysi­
cists receive their training in a single department.
The cooperation between specialties is also demon­
strated in industry, as in the exploration for oil
deposits, where geologists and geophysicists work
side by side, each contributing his particular
knowledge and skill to the search. Furthermore,
there is a close relationship between the earth
sciences and the biological and physical sciences,
especially chemistry and physics.
Earth scientists divide their activities among
basic research, teaching, and the application of
research findings to practical problems. Much of
the last-mentioned activity is of immediate im­
portance to the defense program. For example,
geologists and exploration geophysicists are being
called on to assist in providing increased supplies
of petroleum and minerals. Meteorologists must
furnish more extensive weather data for military
Air Force operations. Oceanographers are needed
to carry on research connected with submarine



operations and amphibious landings. Geogra­
phers supply information on foreign countries
which is essential in defense planning.
This report is designed to give young people
interested in preparing for careers as earth scien­
tists an over-all picture of the main specialties and
the employment opportunities they offer. Follow­
ing a discussion of employment trends and outlook
in the earth science fields as a whole, each of the
major specialties is given a separate chapter dis­
cussing the nature of the work performed, places
of employment, training requirements, usual
methods of entry, and short- and long-run employ­
ment prospects. In addition to chapters on geol­
ogy, geophysics, and geography, there is a separate
section on oceanography, which, in some of its
aspects, is a geophysical specialty. This section
has been included to allow for a description of
marine biology as well as physical oceanography.
Meteorology, often classified as one of the geo­
physical fields, is likewise discussed separately,
because in many educational institutions the prepa­
ration for this field is entirely distinct from that
for other geophysical sciences and because it is
also a separate field of employment. The report
concludes with a discussion of the earnings of
earth scientists and a brief section on sources of
additional information.
Size and Growth of the Field

Although many thousands of people in this
country have had several college courses in the
earth sciences, probably fewer than 25,000 earned
their living in 1951 by working professionally in
these fields. The total number so employed is
difficult to estimate because there are certain
border-line fields of technical employment, related
in varying degrees to the basic earth sciences.
For example, several thousand men and women
are doing work related to weather forecasting, yet
not all of them are regarded as professional*
meteorologists because the amount of their formal
training in meteorology varies greatly. Much the
same situation prevails in relation to exploration
geophysicists, who are among the several thousand
highly skilled technical workers in the oil fields.
Geologists comprise the largest group of spe­
cialists in the earth sciences. About half (ap­
proximately 12,000 in 1951) the earth scientists
are in geology and the closely related occupational

specialties of paleontology, mineralogy, and geo­
logical engineering. Geophysicists, including
meteorologists, oceanographers, and other related
specialists, probably numbered as many as 10,000
in 1951. It is estimated that between 1,500 and
2,000 persons are professional geographers.
However, only a part of this field, physical geog­
raphy, can rightly be considered an earth science;
certain aspects of geography belong, rather, to the
social sciences.
Most of the earth science fields have grown
steadily during the past 30 years, except for the
World War II years. Detailed statistical data
over a long period are lacking, but there are
several sources indicating the growth of the earth
sciences. The nutnber of doctoral degrees
awarded are shown in chart 1, for geology, geog­
raphy, and the total earth science field. Because
geology forms such a large proportion of the total
number in the earth sciences, the trend line is
dominated by that field.
The number of doctoral degrees conferred in
the earth sciences dropped much lower, propor­
tionately, than in all subject fields during World
War II (table 1). On the other hand, the rela­
tive increase since the war has been much greater
in the earth sciences than in all fields taken to­
gether. Over the entire decade from 1940 to 1950
the proportionate increase in doctorates was
nearly as great in the earth sciences as in all
fields—99 percent and 102 percent, respectively.
T a b l e 1 .— Doctoral

degrees awarded in all fields and the
earth sciences, in selected years
All fields




Earth sciences

Percent change Number Percent change
over previous
over previous
year shown
year shown

5, 293

-2 9 .9


-5 7 .8

Source: U. S. Office of Education.

Another indication of the growth of the earth
sciences is the marked increase in membership of
the various related professional societies (chart 2).
Society membership does not provide an exact
measure of numbers in the various fields. Most
scientists belong to more than one society, and the
tendency to join professional organizations has
become greater in recent years.



C h a rt I.









J / Includes geophysics, meteorology,
u n ited s t a t e s d epartm en t of la b o r
bureau of la b o r s t a t is t ic s

9 8 1 7 6 3 — 5!


oceanography, and seismology.

Source: National


Estim ated
Research Council.

1 9 5 0 estim ate by Bureau
o f Labor S ta tis tic s .




Professional Geogrophers in 1949.

the associations.


Employment Outlook

Employment prospects are expected to be good
in the earth sciences in the early fifties. The de­
fense program is increasing the demand for earth
scientists, particularly in the petroleum and min­
eral industries and in Government service. In
certain highly specialized areas, such as research
geophysics, the letting of Government contracts
has resulted in acute shortages of qualified re­
search personnel. The armed services also need
men trained in many of the earth science special­
ties. Some decline in employment is expected in
college and university teaching mainly because
of a temporary decrease in enrollments, but even
there, new personnel may be required to replace
those withdrawing for other jobs or retiring.
The earth scientists in greatest demand are
those who are able to organize and direct either
research projects or operating programs. Gen­
erally, 1 to 2 years of graduate study, in addition
to professional experience, is required for such
positions. The number of students receiving grad­
uate degrees in the earth sciences has increased
considerably since World War II, but the supply
is still below the demand. Employers in some
fields using earth Scientists were lowering require­
ments for beginning positions in early 1951. As
'“the defense program progresses, it is likely that
shortages of highly trained personnel will become
more acute. Employment opportunities should
therefore improve for those with only the
bachelor’s degree who apply for professional work.
The long-run outlook is also good for earth
scientists with graduate degrees. Scientific activ­
ity and employment, in general, have been rising
rapidly over the past several decades. Research
and development work has advanced in colleges
and universities, in Government, and in industry.
Private business organizations have extended
their use of scientists into many phases of their
operations; Government outlays for research, re­
lated both to national defense and to public wel­
fare, have increased. Educational institutions
have been called upon to assist more and more in
the Nation’s scientific program. Instead of small
research projects undertaken by each student and
a supervising faculty member, many universities
now have full-scale research programs financed by
industry or Government.


Even though petroleum and mineral prospect­
ing will continue to be important, earth scientists
in the future are likely to be concerned increas­
ingly with many other problems of land and re­
source use and conservation, particularly those
connected with water resources.

The conduct of geodetic and geologic surveys is a re g u la r operation of
the Federal G o ve rn m e n t, and m any young scien tists obtain valuable
fie ld experience on such w ork.

Some of the areas of employment which may
expand greatly in the future are urban, regional,
and river basin planning and development; utili­
zation of the oceans as sources of food and min­
erals; weather control, rain-making, and irriga­
tion on a great scale; tapping the crust of the
earth for metallic ores; and the search for new
mineral resources useful in the development of
atomic energy. These and many other projects
designed to promote human welfare await the
skills of earth scientists. In addition to develop­
ing these new skills of technological application,
members of the earth science professions will con­
tinue to conduct basic research on the natural
phenomena of the solid earth, its waters, and

Nature of Work

Geology is the largest of the fields generally
classified as an earth science. About 12,000 pro­
fessional geologists are now employed in the coun­
try. In addition, there are many engineers and
scientists in other specialties who have had exten­
sive training in geology and who make use of it in
their professional work.
Geology is, broadly defined, the study of the
earth’s history and structure as they are disclosed
by rock formations.1 During the nineteenth cen­
tury, when the first truly scientific work in geology
began, geological investigations were concerned
mainly with the origin and development of moun­
tains, valleys, and other features of the earth; with
rocks and minerals; and with the past history of
living things as recorded in their fossil remains
found in the earth.
As explanations were found for many of the
earlier problems relating to the origins of rocks,
minerals, mountain ranges, and fossils, the atten­
tion of geologists shifted from historical descrip­
tion to a study of the physical processes by which
changes in the earth’s structure take place. This
field of study is known as physical and dynamic
geology. Scientists specializing in it are making
increasing use of chemistry, physics, and mathe­
matics. Those engaged in the search for needed
minerals and fuels—the main practical application
of the science—also make much use of engineering
F unctions 'perform ed .—The chief functions per­
formed by geologists are field work (including
exploration), research, teaching, and consulting.
A few men are engaged in administrative and mu­
seum work. Although many geologists specialize
in one of these functions, their work is seldom
limited wholly to a single type of activity.
Most geologists spend a large portion of their
time in field work. This requires mastery of the
techniques of surveying, map making, note taking,
and specimen collecting. The geologist studies
the rocks and soils of the area under observation.
He explores the surface and subsurface to deter­
mine the underground structure of the earth and
the kinds of minerals or rocks discovered. He

gages the thickness, slope, and direction of rock
layers under the earth by observing outcrops of
rock and by studying rock cores and cuttings
brought up by drills. He may study fossil remains
of animal and vegetable life. All the data are
recorded in notebooks or on working maps drawn
at the site. Among the simpler instruments used
in field work are compasses, clinometers, aneroid
barometers, hammers, cameras, and pocket lenses.
During surveys the geologist collects minerals,
rocks, fossils, and other specimens, to be studied
later in the laboratory.2

G eologist te s tin g a sam ple o f n itra te w ith portable fie ld o u tfit.

Although the amount of time spent in studying
data in the laboratory depends upon the purpose
of the study, all geologists require training in
laboratory techniques and methods. They must
know how to use the microscope, special instru­
ments, and various chemical tests to identify and
tabulate their specimens and determine their
characteristics. They may also have to prepare
finished maps of the region surveyed, using draft­
ing instruments. When the final map or report
on a survey is made, it usually gives a complete
geological picture of the region under study.
In colleges and universities, geologists supervise
the research of graduate and undergraduate stu­
dents, direct laboratory and field work courses,
and conduct basic investigations in many aspects
of geological science. The time spent on research
differs materially. In the smaller colleges, where
the student body is composed entirely of under-

N a tio n a l R o ster o f S c ien tific an d S p ecia lized P er so n n e l, H a n d ­
book o f D e sc rip tio n s o f S p ecia lized F ie ld s in G eology, W ash in gton ,
U . S. C iv il S erv ice C om m ission , C la ssifica tio n S ta n d a rd s Series
D . C., J u n e 1945.
for G eology, W a sh in g to n , D . C., 1949.



graduates, geologists are likely to carry heavy
teaching loads and to devote most of their time to
instruction and administrative work. In large
universities with funds for research work, geolo­
gists, like other scientists, may be able to spend as
much as half or more of their time in research,
including considerable time away from the
campus while doing field work.
The work of the petroleum geologist is a special
application of earth science to exploration for oil
reserves. Whereas oil was once located by hit-ormiss methods, geologists now search for it with
scientific instruments and techniques drawn from
the allied sciences of geochemistry and geophysics
as well as geology. As a rule, petroleum and
mineral deposits cannot be located by surface ob­
servations. The petroleum geologist must be
skilled in research techniques for locating under­
ground structures (such as faults, anticlines, and
salt domes) where oil reserves may be found.
When a promising subsurface structure is located,
the petroleum geologist, working with the geo­
physicist and the petroleum engineer, decides
where to start drilling. When well-cores are
brought up by the drills, the paleontologist and
petroleum geologist analyze their fossil content
and mineral composition to determine whether
to continue drilling at that location.
Some geologists work as consultants for private
industry or Federal or State government agencies
on a full- or part-time basis. To succeed as a
consultant, a geologist must have had long
F ields o f specialization . —The field of geology
is still developing and a number of geological
specialties are currently recognized. The follow­
ing are the major research and applied fields in
which geologists specialize:3
1. M ineralogy deals with the physical and chem­
ical properties of minerals, their classification,
and the way of distinguishing them.
2. P etro lo g y deals with rocks, their origin and
3. S tra tig ra p h y deals with the arrangement
and relationships of earth layers. It is sometimes
called h istorical geo lo gy , since it is concerned with
the chronological succession of rocks. This was


one of the first subjects studied by geologists and
remains one of their primary interests.
4. P aleon to log y deals with the organic life of
past geological periods as revealed by fossil de­
posits. It is closely related to stratigraphy.
Paleontologists must have an extensive knowledge
of biology.
5. Surficial geology or geom orph ology deals
with the structure of the earth’s surface. It is
concerned with forces (such as erosion, glaciation,
and sedimentation) causing changes in the land­
6. E conom ic geology is concerned with finding
and exploiting useful mineral or other deposits
and locating desirable sites for such structures as
dam foundations. Economic geologists usually
specialize in a particular type of deposit such as
metallic or nonmetallic minerals, coal, or petro­
leum. One of the most important branches of
economic geology, petroleum geology, is often
treated as a separate geological specialty.

The gravity meter is a sensitive instrument used in locating subsurface
geological structures.

Where Employed

By far the largest number of trained geologists
in this country—about 70 percent—worked for
private industry in 1951. Most of them were em­
ployed in the petroleum industry.4 The second

A m erican G eo lo g ica l In stitu te , T h e S u p p ly and D em an d fo r
G eo lo g ists, 1 9 4 9 -1 9 5 0 . A rep ort com p iled by th e C om m ittee o n
N a tio n a l R o ster o f S cien tific and S p ecia lized P erso n n el, D e ­ G eo lo g ica l P er so n n e l, N a tio n a l R esearch C ou ncil, W a sh in g to n ,
sc r ip tio n o f th e P ro fe ssio n o f G eology.
D . C., 1950 (m im eo .). -



largest number were employed by the mining
industry. A few geologists found employment
with construction companies, railroads, public
utilities, and manufacturing plants (especially in
the metal, stone, and clay products industries).
Colleges and universities employed about 12
percent of the Nation’s geologists in 1951. The
numbers engaged in teaching increased consider­
ably after World War II because of unprecedented
enrollments and the establishment of additional
departments of geology. However, not all of these
teachers were in departments of geology, because
instruction in the earth sciences is a necessary part
of the curriculum in mining, metallurgical, and
civil engineering. A few persons who have
majored in geology teach science in secondary
Some geologists become independent consult­
ants, and about 5 percent of the total number of
geologists were so employed by industry or gov­
ernment in 1951.
Federal and State government agencies employ
about 13 percent of the Nation’s geologists. In
the Federal service, as elsewhere, geologists carry
on their investigations and research projects in the
field, laboratory, and office. Government geolo­
gists may be assigned to work in any part of the
United States and its Territories and possessions,
and also in many allied countries where the need
for development of natural resources is urgent.
Types of work for which geologists are employed
by the Federal Government include petrology,
engineering geology, petrography, mineral de­
posits geology, fuels geology, stratigraphic
paleontology, ground water geology, mineral clas­
sification, and museum geology. A recent Civil
Service Commission examination announcement
stated that the work done by persons appointed
to professional positions as geologists in the Fed­
eral service would include making and recording
geological observations; identifying and studying
specimens of rock, fossils, and ores; carrying on
or assisting in geological mapping; studying min­
eral deposits to determine their extent and value;
studying the occurrence of ground waters; and
preparing technical and economic reports for
About 80 percent of the total number of geolo­
gists employed in 1950 by Federal agencies were
with the Geological Survey of the United States

Department of the Interior. The Bureau of
Reclamation, also in the Department of the In­
terior, and the United States Army Corps of
Engineers together employed about 16 percent.5
State agencies employed a few hundred geologists,
largely for work on State surveys in cooperation
with the United States Geological Survey.
Education and Training

A career as a geologist usually requires four or
more years of study, leading to the degree of
bachelor of science, in a university, college or in­
stitute of technology. The opportunities to ac­
quire equivalent knowledge of geological science
by experience and on-the-job training are in­
creasingly rare.
Most people who earn bachelor’s degrees in
geology obtain them in colleges of arts and scien­
ces. The course requirements differ considerably
among institutions. In general, however, the
work in geology amounts to about one-fourth of
the total semester hours for the 4 years of under­
graduate study. About another fourth of the
work is likely to be in related natural sciences and
in mathematics, and the remaining one-half in
general studies—some of which, such as English
composition, economics, and foreign languages,
provide training important to the profession. In
some colleges a special program of studies leading
to a bachelor’s degree in geology has been set up,
allowing as much as one-half of the undergraduate
course work to be taken in the major field.6* Some
schools of engineering offer programs of under­
graduate study in petroleum engineering and
petroleum geology. In such programs as much as
90 percent of the work may be distinctly profes­
sional in character, preparing the majority of
graduates to begin work without further training.
Fpr entry positions in private industry, the
bachelor’s degree is often adequate, especially
when the applicant’s training has included exten­
sive laboratory work, summer field courses, or
short periods of apprentice training with indus­
trial concerns. Each year a small number of
graduates with only the bachelor’s degree obtain
5 A m erican G eological In stitu te , op. cit.
6 K rum bein, W . D ., In flu en ce o f G eop h ysics and G eoch em istry
on th e P ro fe ssio n a l T ra in in g o f G eo lo g ists, A m erican In stitu te
of M in in g and M eta llu rg ica l E n gin eers, T ech n ica l P u b lica tio n
No. 1327, 1941, p. 11.


government positions. However, in geology, as
in other scientific fields, a graduate degree is be­
coming an increasingly common requirement even
for entry jobs. For research or college teaching
positions, a Ph. D. degree is often required and
is extremely useful in the competition for the
more desirable positions (or for advancement in
any type of work). The 7 or 8 years of higher
education usually required to obtain this degree
generally provide thorough academic training in
the specialty and also considerable research ex­
perience. The preparation of a doctoral disser­
tation requires extensive independent field and
laboratory investigation. In this research work,
which may occupy full time for a year or more,
the young geologist gains scientific experience
equivalent to years of apprentice training on a
job. Geologists with doctorates can sometimes
start out in responsible positions involving super­
vision of other geologists with less education.
The importance of graduate training in Govern­
ment employment was stated as follows in a recent
pamphlet of the United States Geological Survey:
It has become increasingly evident that undergraduate
training alone is rarely adequate for a satisfactory career
with the United States Geological Survey, even though
it may suffice to pass the civihservice examination. Only
the unusual 4-year student can compete favorably in
Survey professional circles with those who have had the
advantages of postgraduate training. * * * The in­
tellectual discipline, the intensive training, and the re­
search habits instilled by the graduate-school environ­
ment are of paramount importance to a Survey geologist.
We recommend, therefore, that college seniors aiming at
a career in the Survey plan to devote at least 2 years to
postgraduate studies and, if reasonably possible, that th e y
co m p lete th e cou rse requirements for the doctorate.7

How To Enter

The professors, department heads, and place­
ment officers of the institution where young geolo­
gists take their training play an important role in
assisting them to find their first positions. Fre­
quently, students make contacts with employers
through field work courses, such as assisting in
geological exploration work with an oil company
in the summer. New graduates with advanced
degrees who want college teaching positions


usually obtain them through their head professor
or research supervisor.
Beginning positions with the Federal or State
geological surveys may be obtained after qualify­
ing through a civil-service examination. Upon
attaining a certain minimum level of training
(usually the completion of 1 year of graduate
study), the apprentice geologist may be eligible
for membership in one of the national profes­
sional societies representing each of the principal
fields of specialization in geology. Membership
in these organizations, with attendance at their
local and national meetings, is one excellent way
for young geologists to find out about openings in
private industry.
Sometimes new graduates obtain jobs by sub­
mitting applications to mining and petroleum
companies. When there is a scarcity of geologists,
employers often advertise for personnel in the
professional journals, published by the geological
societies. Company representatives are some­
times sent to the colleges to interview new
Petroleum and mineral industries usually re­
quire the beginning professional geologist with a
bachelor’s or master’s degree to start as a field as­
sistant on an exploration party. Successful
experience in field operations is required for ad­
vancement to supervisory or research work. If
the geologist has specialized in paleontology, his
first assignment may be the routine testing of rock
cores and cuttings from wells to determine the
microfossils present. After working in a number
of different areas, he may advance into research
paleontology, or he may be shifted into subsurface
mapping. In every specialty the highest posi­
tions to which geologists in industry may be pro­
moted usually involve executive or administrative
work. The top executive positions in oil com­
panies are being increasingly filled by geologists
with long and varied experience.8
Employment Outlook

The demand for geologists’ services was much
greater in mid-1951 than in mid-1950 because of
the mobilization program, and it is expected to
increase further in the near future. It is neces­
sary to expand our production of petroleum and

B an n erm an , H arold M., and P eco ra , W illia m T ., T ra in in g
G eo lo g ists : A U n ited S ta te s G eo lo g ica l S u rvey V iew p oin t, G eo­
8 L ahee, F. H ., T he G eo lo g ist in In d u str y , School and C ollege
lo g ic a l S u rvey C ircu lar 73, W a sh in g to n , D. C., M arch 1950, pp.
P la cem en t, V ol. 8, N o. 2, D ecem ber 1947, pp. 28—31.
2 -3 .



other strategic minerals to meet present defense
production goals and to provide stockpiles for a
possible greater emergency. Thus the petroleum
and mineral industries will require an estimated
500 to 900 additional geologists during the year,
ending in June 1952. Any expansion in the
mobilization program will increase the demand
for geologists still further.
Employment in the petroleum industries, where
over half of the Nation’s geologists are working,
has been on the increase since 1944, following a
decline during the first years of World War II.
More than 7,000 wildcat or exploratory wells were
drilled in 1949 in the United States alone, com­
pared with about 1,800 in 1935.9 However, this
increased number of wells is still not sufficient to
serve all the petroleum needs of the country. The
spread of exploration activities within this coun­
try and to numerous foreign areas will provide
an expanding source of employment for economic
geologists, at least during the early 1950’s.
The defense program is increasing the demand
for geologists in the mineral industries also.
Geologists specializing in mineralogy and petrol­
ogy are called upon to devise new and improved
techniques for locating scarce mineral deposits in
the United States and abroad. In March 1951,
the Defense Production Administration allocated
$10,000,000 to the Department of the Interior to
stimulate a coast-to-coast search for minerals as
an initial step in increasing production for defense
purposes. This will mean greater employment
opportunities for geologists, especially those fully
trained, experienced, and ready to take charge of
some aspect of geological research or exploration.
The number of professional geologists in civil­
ian positions in the Federal service was approxi­
mately 1,300 in early 1951. Budget proposals
called for a total of 1,600 positions for the fiscal
year 1952, 22 percent more than in 1951; how­
ever, the actual number of positions set up depends
on congressional appropriations. In addition,
about 200 other openings in Federal jobs were ex­
pected during 1951-52, largely as a result of with­
drawals to the Armed Forces and private industry.
A few highly qualified persons in certain geologi­
cal specialties and in allied sciences were being ac­

cepted for commissions in the Armed Forces in
early 1951; the Air Force had special .need for
photomapping and map reproduction officers and
for topographic engineers.
A few openings for teachers of geology are ex­
pected in the early 1950’s despite the anticipated
decrease in college enrollments. Teachers will be
needed in graduate schools and as replacements for
those who enter the Armed Forces, retire, or other­
wise leave the profession.
The supply of geologists available in 1951, to
offset the prospective increases in demand, in­
cluded a large number of recent graduates, espe­
cially those with only bachelor’s degrees. How­
ever, the supply of experienced geologists was
limited. Because thus far this is a field open
largely to men, few persons completed training
in the profession during World War II. In
1944, for example, there were only about 16 per­
cent as many students majoring in geology as in
1940. (See table 2.) The return of the veterans
to college after the war brought about a sharp
increase in enrollments so that by 1950 the num­
ber of students majoring in geology was nearly
three times as great as in 1940. About 3,650 de­
grees were granted in geology in 1950 (see table
3), but only about 600 of these were graduate de­
grees. It is estimated that in 1951 about the same
number of graduate degrees were granted; how­
ever, the total number of degrees awarded was
substantially lower than in 1950.

9 U . S. D ep a rtm en t o f L abor, B u reau o f L abor S ta tistic s, O ccu­
p a tio n a l O utlook S eries, B u lle tin N o. 994, T h e E m p lo y m en t O ut­
look in P etro leu m P ro d u ctio n and R efin in g, W a sh in g to n , D. C..
1950, p. 11.

1 Data are for [students from only 75 schools, and do not fully reflect the
postwar increase in geology graduates in colleges not included in the survey.
Source: Levorsen, A. I., Survey of College Students Majoring inrGeology,
Bulletin of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, June 1950 and
June 1951.

T a b l e 2 .— N u m b er o f s tu d e n ts m a jo rin g in g eo lo gy in th e

U n ited S ta te s 1

Number enrolled
Geology major


1950_____ _ __
1951___ - ____

2, 659
2, 736
1, 770


Senior Master’s
class candidates
2, 623



1, 218





num ­

2, 564
2, 510
7, 016
5, 505





The oversupply in 1950 of new graduates with
only the bachelor’s degree has been rapidly reduced
by increasing defense requirements. New grad­
uates, especially those who have had some field
experience in connection with their academic work,
will be in demand. Employment opportunities
for women geologists will probably continue to
improve during the defense mobilization period.10*
The long-run outlook for employment in geology
appears to be good for those with graduate train­
ing. Furthermore, so long as there are both junior
and senior positions in Government and industry,
a small number of persons with only a bachelor’s
degree will be able to enter the profession each
As the world’s petroleum resources dwindle, in­
creased efforts on the part of geologists and geo­
physicists will be required to find new supplies of
this highly valuable commodity. There will be
systematic resurveys of oil-bearing regions, using
improved techniques for locating oil deposits deep
within the earth’s crust. Exploration and ex­
ploitation of undersea areas for petroleum deposits
have just begun. Many parts of the world have
not yet been surveyed by trained earth scientists.
10 F or a d eta iled d iscu ssio n o f em p loym en t o p p o r tu n ities for
w om en, see T h e O utlook for W om en in G eology, G eograph y and
M eteorology, U . S. D ep a rtm en t o f L abor, W om en ’s B u reau , B u l­
le tin N o. 2 2 3 -7 , 1948. A v a ila b le from th e S u p erin ten d en t o f
D ocu m en ts, W a sh in g to n 25, D. C.


The utilization of professional geologists in ex­
ploration for uranium and other ores used in
atomic fission will undoubtedly increase, though
the extent of the increase cannot be estimated at
this time.
of deg rees co n ferred in g eo lo g y , by ty p e
of d eg re e , an d n u m ber o f in s titu tio n s rep o rtin g

T a b l e 3 . — N u m ber

Type of

Doctor’s___ _


of institu­ Num
ber of
tions re­ degrees
porting J



Number Num ­
of institu­ Num­
institu­ ber of
ber of oftions
tions re­ degrees
porting i
porting i degrees




1 Differences in number of institutions reporting are due mainly to increase
in number of schools granting degrees in geology and partly to failure of some
schools to report data on graduates.
Source: U. S. Office of Education.

After the early 1950’s when undergraduate col­
lege enrollments in the United States are expected
to decline temporarily, it is anticipated that the
number of students will increase beyond the pre­
vious high enrollment of 1949. This means that
employment opportunities for geologists who have
obtained the doctorate and are prepared for teach­
ing careers will increase moderately by the end
of this decade and will continue to increase in the
early 1960’s.

Nature of Work

Geophysics is an over-all term embracing a
number of sciences dealing with the physical as­
pects of our planet and their measurement. The
geophysical sciences are geodesy, hydrology, ter­
restrial magnetism and electricity, tectonophysics,
volcanology, seismology, oceanography, meteorology, and exploration geophysics.11
The origin of geophysics can be traced to early
speculations about such phenomena as earth­
quakes, volcanoes, and the force of gravity. As
an integrated science, however, geophysics has de­
veloped largely since the First World War. New
geophysical discoveries and new applications of
11 A sep a ra te sta te m e n t on m eteorology is in clu d ed in th e p res­
en t report. T h ere is a lso a sep a ra te se c tio n on ocean ograp h y,
w h ich in clu d es m arin e b iology as w e ll a s th e a p p lica tio n o f geo­
p h y sic a l tech n iq u es to th e stu d y o f th e ocean .
9 8 1 7 6 3 — 52--------3

the science to practical problems are now con­
tributing greatly to the Nation’s defense effort.
Geophysicists apply the principles and concepts
of physics and mathematics to the study of the
earth and its atmosphere and oceans. They are
concerned with the precise measurement and utili­
zation of the earth’s forces including magnetic,
electrical, gravitational, radioactive, seismic (the
force causing earthquakes), and geothermal (re­
sulting from the earth’s interior heat and solar
radiation). Geophysical scientists study these
forces from the standpoint of the physics of solid
bodies (the earth), the physics of gases (the at­
mosphere), and the physics of liquids (the oceans
and other bodies of water).
The applications of the geophysical sciences to
practical problems are possible because of the ad­
vances in basic research, and much of the work is



pure research. The same scientists who conduct
this research, however, are often asked to provide
answers to a variety of problems in such fields as
civil and electrical engineering, cartography, sur­
veying, radio and telephonic communication, flood
control, weather modification work, and under­
water transportation.
One of the most important activities in geo­
physics is the search for petroleum and other min­
eral deposits. Special techniques and instruments
have been devised which yield information to ex­
ploration geophysicists about earth structures
many thousands of feet below the surface. These
techniques are also used in exploration for radio­
active and other minerals, to test deep foundations
before building, and to make highly precise maps
and charts of the earth’s surface. Applied geo­
physics developed rapidly in the last three decades,
as geophysical techniques and methods proved
their value in yielding specific knowledge about
deposits of petroleum and minerals in all parts of
the world. Geophysical prospectors, petroleum
engineers, and economic geologists work together
in the employ of governments and the large oil
companies in the search for the supplies of oil so
urgently needed for both defense and civilian
F ields o f specialization .—The majority of geo­
physicists do not call themselves by that name, but
use the title of their specialty, e. g., geodesist, vol­
canologist, hydrologist.
However, the methods and technical applica­
tions of physics are employed in common by all
these specialized fields of the earth sciences.
Geodesists measure the size and shape of the
earth and its gravitational pull, and survey areas
sufficiently large to involve consideration of the
earth’s curvature. Research conducted by the
geodesist forms the basis for all accurate mapping
of large areas on land and on the oceans.
Seismologists record earthquake vibrations and
use the data obtained to determine the time, loca­
tion, and magnitude of earthquakes. This work
requires the use of special instruments, mapping,
and surveys of geologic structures in the field.
Seismologists provide information used in plan­
ning the design of bridges, buildings, and other
structures in earthquake regions.
Another large group of geophysicists are con­
cerned with geomagnetism and electricity. These
scientists study magnetic and electrical processes

in and about the earth, and the influence of the
earth’s magnetic field. This work includes
studies of electrical phenomena in the upper
atmosphere (the ionosphere), sunspots and the
aurora, and the propagation of radio waves. The
findings of these scientists are used in air and
sea navigation, in military devices employing mag­
netic principles, in geological exploration, and in
studies of nuclear physics and cosmic radiation.
Volcanologists study the origin, location, and
activity of volcanoes, hot springs, and similar
phenomena, including the processes by which ore
was deposited. They share with physical geol­
ogists an interest in the structure of mountain
ranges, and in the chemical and physical proper­
ties of igneous rocks and minerals.
Tectonophysicists are concerned with both
geologic and physical research problems of the
earth’s structure. They may do field work on
such problems as the nature of the earth’s crust,
the mechanics of glacier flow, and the structure
of mountains, plains, and oceans. Tectonophysi­
cists try to find out about the physical forces
which cause movements in the earth’s crust. In
the laboratory, Studies are made of minerals and
rocks from the viewpoint of physical changes
which have taken place in them as the result of
heat and pressure.
Hydrologists concern themselves with the water
supply of the land areas of the earth, and investi­
gate the rate of flow, the volume, mass, and weight
of water. Engineering hydrologists (often hy­
draulic engineers) study flood control, water
power, the water supply of cities and towns, and
irrigation projects. Other hydrologists, to­
gether with geologists specializing in groundwater supplies and their use, work on problems
of soil erosion, the effect of crops and grasses on
the conservation of water in the soil, and related
conservation problems. Some hydrologists spe­
cialize in sediment control and the removal of
sediment from river beds and harbors. Still
others deal with glaciers, snow, ice, their forma­
tion and control, and the use of permanently
frozen land areas. The majority of hydrologists
received their training in such fields as agronomy,
geology, and engineering. Many are practicing
civil engineers.
The title “geophysicist” is most frequently used
by geophysical technologists (exploration or pros­
pecting geophysicists). These scientists conduct


or participate in field parties that locate promising
sites for oil-drilling activities. Some geophysical
technologists work as consultants to oil com­
panies; others supervise petroleum and natural
gas production and refining operations, or conduct
research on some phase of prospecting. Geophysi­
cists who lead exploration parties usually super­
vise crews of men, many of whom may not have
much knowledge of geophysical methods. Party
chiefs with a good background of geophysical and
geological knowledge are needed not only to plan
the exploration and supervise the work but to
bring together and interpret the exploration data.
The final interpretations are usually made in the
laboratory, after completion of the field work.
Seismic prospecting is the most widely used
method of geophysical exploration. The seismo­
graph (originally designed to record earthquakes)
measures the rate at which waves created by an
explosion of dynamite are transmitted through
the earth. As these waves strike rock formations,
they are in part reflected back to the instrument.
By interpreting the instrument readings which
are recorded photographically, geophysicists de­
termine the nature of underground formations.
Other methods used in the search for oil are grav­
ity, magnetic and electrical prospecting, all of
which require the services of geophysicists and
related technologists for the interpretation of
A rough indication of the relative numbers of
scientists and technologists interested in the vari­
ous geophysical specialties is given by the affilia­
tions of the members of the American Geophysical
Union. In 1919, the numbers of members affiliated
with the various sections were: Geodesy, 485; seis­
mology, 1,25G; hydrology, 2,140; meteorology,
1,660; terrestrial magnetism and electricity, 938;
oceanography, 872; volcanology, 784; and tectonophysics, 1,101. Because persons with an interest
in more than one specialty may be affiliated with
several sections, these figures do not accurately
represent the total number of professional workers
in the specialized fields.
The membership of the American Geophysical
Union has increased rapidly in recent years (chart
2). Part of this increase resulted from wartime
research ana development in several of the geo­
physical specialties, which brought people into the
field from the related sciences. Geophysicists have
taken part in the advances made in radiation


M e m be rs of geophysical-prospecting crews in te rp re t th e data obtained
fro m the seism ograph, an in s tru m e n t used in explo ra tion fo r petroleum .

studies, electronics, nuclear physics, and the de­
velopment of guided missiles and the newer tech­
niques of communication such as radar and sonar.
The Society of Exploration Geophysicists also
has received many new members in recent years
(chart 2). This organization includes technolo­
gists who work in oil-field prospecting and de­
velopment, and scientists who teach and conduct
research in exploration problems and in the
sciences basic thereto.
Where Employed

Because the largest number of persons with the
job title of geophysicist are engaged in prospect­
ing for petroleum and minerals, the proportion
employed by oil and mining companies is high.
Probably as many as three-fourths of the explora­
tion geophysicists work for oil companies, either
as full-time staff members or as consultants em­
ployed on a fee basis. Geophysicists in private
industry are concentrated in the southwestern and
western sections of the country, where the large
oil fields and petroleum refineries are located.
Many are employed in foreign countries.
Perhaps as many as 10 percent of geophysicists
are employed by colleges and universities to teach



the Bureau of Reclamation of the Department of
the Interior, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and
the Army Corps of Engineers.
Employment in the field of geophysics in the
Coast and Geodetic Survey involves the following
activities, in which engineers and some geophysi­
cists are employed:
1. Surveying and charting the coasts of the
United States and its possessions, to insure the
safe navigation of coastal and intracoastal waters.
2. Occasional hydrographic and topographic
survey of lakes and rivers.
3. Determination of latitude and longitude and
elevations to provide information for mapping
and engineering survey work.
4. Study of tides and currents in coastal waters
and publication of tide and current tables for the
use of seamen.
5. Compilation of aeronautical charts, to meet
the needs of aircraft pilots.
6. Observations of the earth's magnetism in all
parts of the country, to furnish magnetic informa­
tion essential to the aviator, land surveyor, radio
engineer, and seaman.
7. Seismological observations and investiga­
supply data required in designing build­
various aspects of geophysics, geology, or engineer - ings totoreduce
the earthquake hazard.
ing. Teaching is frequently combined with re­
astronomical observations,
search in the university laboratories and with to provide data forand
surveys and for sci­
private consultant work. Research geophysicists entific investigations of the crust
of the earth.
in a number of universities have conducted various
scientific investigations under contract with the Education and Training
Department of Defense, especially since the be­
Geophysics is relatively new as an organized
ginning of the current defense program. A few
specialists conduct projects in private research in­ subject of instruction leading to degrees. Many
stitutions such as the Carnegie Institution of students planning to enter research geophysics
Washington or one of the oceanographic institutes. still obtain their training in geology, physics,
In the Federal service, geophysical scientists mathematics, and engineering, as did many pres­
find employment in the Coast and Geodetic Survey ent members of the profession. The trend, how­
and the National Bureau of Standards (Depart­ ever, is toward the establishment of separate
ment of Commerce) ; in the Geological Survey and departments and curricula in geophysics.
the Bureau of Mines (Department of the Inte­
In institutions offering undergraduate training
rior) ; and in the Naval Ordnance Laboratory, programs the chief aim is to give training in ex­
the Signal Corps, and the Geophysical Research ploration geophysics, under titles such as geo­
Division of the Air Force Cambridge Research physical technology or geophysical engineering.
Center (Department of Defense). Many in the Some of the colleges with training programs of
Federal service are classed as geodetic engineers this kind in 1951 were the Colorado School of
and mathematicians. A number of hydrologists Mines (Golden, Colo.), the Pennsylvania State
(often under other job titles) work in such agen­ College (State College, Pa.), the New Mexico
cies as the Forest Service and the Soil Conserva­ School of Mines (Socorro, N. Mex.), the Univer­
tion Service of the Department of Agriculture, sity of Utah (Salt Lake City, Utah), the Cali­
M e m be rs of a geophysical exploration crew d rill a shot hole. Explosives
w ill be set o ff in the hole and the earth waves, recorded b y th e seism o­
graph, w ill be in terp re te d to help dete rm in e the nature of underground
fo rm a tio n s.


fornia Institute of Technology (Pasadena, Calif.),
St. Louis University (St. Louis, Mo.), and the
University of California (Los Angeles, Calif.).
Some undergraduate training in exploration geo­
physics can be obtained also in other colleges with
degree programs in engineering geology and pe­
troleum geology. Some students prepare for
technical exploration work by combining geology
and physics in an undergraduate program.
The other geophysical sciences are almost en­
tirely graduate research specializations (except
for meteorology). Except at a very few institu­
tions (e. g., the new Ohio State University Insti­
tute of Geodesy, Photogrammetry, and Cartog­
raphy, and the undergraduate division of the St.
Louis University Institute of Geophysical Tech­
nology) , study in the various geophysical special­
ties is not possible as a major at the undergraduate
level. However, undergraduate work in related
sciences such as geology, civil engineering, hydrau­
lic engineering, physics and mathematics, does
prepare directly for graduate work in all branches
of geophysics.
For graduate study and research specialization
in such fields as tectonophysics, geodesy, terres­
trial magnetism, and volcanology, the student
needs to locate those universities and institutes of
technology which have extensive teaching and
research staffs in engineering, geology, mathe­
matics, and physics. At these institutions, there
will be an opportunity to carry out research prob­
lems in one or more of the geophysical sciences.
The student’s choice of an area of specialization
is often determined by the subject of his thesis re­
search for a graduate degree. People with doc­
torates in geophysics often transfer from one
specialty to another, because this shift generally
involves a choice of a new area of research activity
rather than a change from one profession to
How To Enter

The graduate in geophysical technology or
petroleum engineering may obtain his first posi­
tion through the assistance of fellow students or
professors intimately acquainted with the petro­
leum industry. Job vacancies are frequently pub­
licized at meetings of professional societies, in
professional journals, or by oil company person­
nel representatives who often visit college cam­


puses to recruit graduates. A summer job with a
petroleum company or geological exploration
party improves the student’s chances of obtaining
professional employment upon graduation.
Young men entering geophysical prospecting
with only the bachelor’s degree usually spend their
first few years of employment in converting theo­
retical knowledge obtained in college into practi­
cal experience. The length of this apprenticeship
is often reduced by taking graduate studies; the
petroleum industry has shown a preference for
persons with 1 or 2 years of graduate work in
petroleum geology, geophysics, or engineering
geology. The first few years of exploration work
provide an opportunity to specialize in a particu­
lar type of geophysical technology—for example,
to become highly skilled in the use of an instru­
ment such as the seismograph. Following the
attainment of such a skill, professional advance­
ment may be rapid and highly remunerative. In
the laboratory, the young geophysicist may be as­
signed to use precision instruments to determine
the physical and chemical properties of rock speci­
mens, minerals, and fossils.
A student well-trained in any physical science
or in one of several branches of engineering may
also be able to obtain a beginning position as a
member of a geophysical survey or prospecting
crew. Ability to speak a foreign language flu­
ently may be a factor in the entrant’s employ­
ment, since the larger American geophysical con­
sulting firms obtain contracts for exploration work
in many parts of the world. The young scientific
or engineering assistant may sometimes learn the
methods and techniques of industrial or govern­
ment geophysical work on the job, if his previous
training has not been in geophysics itself.
Most teaching positions for persons with train­
ing in geophysics are in schools of engineering or
departments of geology and physics, because very
few institutions have as yet organized departments
of geophysics. For college teaching positions, ad­
vanced degrees and research experience are usually
required. As departments of geophysical tech­
nology are set up, opportunities in college teach­
ing will doubtless increase.
Employment Outlook

Employment opportunities are excellent and
are expected to remain so during the early 1950’s



for persons specializing in geophysics or transfer­
ring to this field from other sciences. Employ­
ment prospects in the field are closely related to
the increased tempo of the world-wide search for
petroleum reserves and mineral deposits needed in
the defense program. As oil reserves diminish
and the search for them is extended to all areas
of the globe, more geophysicists will be used in
prospecting. Defense plans also call for more re­
search in radioactivity and cosmic and solar radia­
tion; geophysicists are among the scientists con­
cerned with these problems. Much of the scien­
tific methodology used in exploring the ocean is
geophysical in nature. All of these areas of in­
vestigation are being expanded, because of their
bearing on national defense.
The supply of persons with training or expe­
rience in geophysics is not great enough to meet
the increasing demand. Complete information is
lacking on the supply of new geophysicists coming
from the colleges because (as already indicated)
few institutions have formal curricula in geo­
physics, and people with training in geology,
physics, mathematics, and engineering frequently
enter the field. For example, a person with a
graduate degree in civil engineering may work in
geodetics, a hydraulic engineer may specialize in
theoretical and advanced problems in that field
and consider himself a hydrologist, a person with
advanced training in mathematics and physics
may work on problems in the field of terrestrial
magnetics and electricity, and a physical geologist
may specialize in tectonophysics. In petroleum
exploration work, the chief source of new workers
is probably the graduates in geological and
petroleum engineering.
The separately organized programs of study in
geophysical technology have for the most part
been set up within the past 10 years, and data on
the number of graduates of these courses were
not collected until recently. Such information, in
most cases, refers to the supply of personnel in
exploration geophysics, most of whom are trained
in other degree programs. A rough estimate of
the numbers graduated from these curricula, plus
a partial count of master’s and doctor’s theses on
geophysical subjects, indicates that during 1949-50
about 80 bachelor’s degrees, 25 master’s degrees,
and 15 doctorates were awarded in the geophysical

sciences.12 In addition, there were many other
science graduates with some training in the geo­
physical sciences or in closely related specialties.
Estimates indicate that about the same number
of degrees were awarded in the geophysical sci­
ences in 1950-51 as in 1949-50. The total number
of students graduating from colleges will decline
substantially during the early years of the 1950
decade. The great majority of persons who enter
the various geophysical sciences are not trained
directly in those specialties. The current strong
demand for young graduates in physics, engineer­
ing, geology, and mathematics who might take up
geophysical research may thus reduce the custom­
ary number of those transferring to geophysics.
As a result, the supply of persons with geophysical
training, particularly at an advanced level, will
probably continue to be too small to meet the ex­
panding demand as the defense program pro­
The future developments of the science of
geophysics suggest expanding long-run employ­
ment opportunities for scientists in this field.
Man still has a long way to go before his knowl­
edge of the earth will be sufficient to meet his
increasing needs for its hidden resources. Knowl­
edge of the earth’s interior through direct ob­
servation at widely scattered points extends to
only about 3 miles of the 4,000 to the earth’s center,
and information on the ocean bed is very limited.
It is therefore likely that the need for natural
resources, now being rapidly depleted in the most
accessible places, will necessitate the exploration
of greater depths of the earth and ocean areas.
Man’s needs for water resources and flood control
will increase the demand for hydrologists and
meteorologists. The general area of communica­
tions engineering is a potential source of employ­
ment for geophysical scientists. For example, de­
velopments during World War II in the field of
geomagnetism—including radar, radio-communi­
cation disturbances, isomagnetic maps, and im­
proved instrumentation for aerial magnetic sur­
veys—pointed to future employment possibilities
in research and development.13
12 C om piled from a rep ort by J. B. M acelw an e, A n n u al Survey
o f G eop h ysical E d u c a tio n 1 9 5 0 -5 1 , G eop hysics, 16 : 5 1 1 -5 1 8 (J u ly
1 9 5 1 ).
13 A m erican G eop h ysical U n ion T ra n sa ctio n s, E d u ca tio n in G eo­
p h y sic s, 2 6 : 4 6 3 - 4 7 6 (D ecem ber 1 9 4 5 ): 2 7 : 6 1 4 - 6 1 7 (A u g u st
1 9 4 6 ).

Nature of Work
Oceanography is the study of the ocean in all
its aspects, including its effect on the atmosphere,
the sea bottom, and the shores; and the relation
between marine animal and vegetable organisms
and the environment in which they live.
Collection of data regarding the ocean began
long ago, when the problems faced by navigators
of sailing ships created a need for information
on currents, winds, and ocean temperatures.
About 100 years ago, biologists began the system­
atic study of fish and other marine life, thus
opening a new phase in the science of the sea.
Realizing that virtually all sedimentary rock
originated under the sea, geologists began studies
of the sediments accumulating on the sea floor.
At the beginning of the present century chemists
and physicists also became interested in research
relating to the ocean.
Today, these scientists are involved in ocean­
ographic research. Frequently, the scientists
performing such research do not call themselves
oceanographers, although this title is increasingly
common. The varied knowledge and techniques
involved in marine research are drawn from other
sciences, but form a distinct discipline requiring
special training.
Oceanographers’ duties may include the conduct
of surveys and experiments at sea and ashore, the­
oretical studies, analysis of samples and data,
compilation of special charts and tabulations,
preparation of reports, and designing of special­
ized equipment. Among the topics of research—
some physical, some biological—which have con­
cerned oceanographers in recent years are the
1. To what distance, and under what pressure
can submarine vessels navigate?
2. H oav does sound travel at various depths
beneath the ocean surface?
3. What are the most favorable conditions for
the propagation of edible fish?
4. How do coral reefs come into being, and how
can food and water be obtained from them?
5. What is the biological and chemical content
of ocean floor sediment?
0. What is the location, direction, and force of
the principal ocean currents of the world ?

7. Can a forecast be made of the height, rough­
ness, and frequency of the waves at the place and
time of a proposed amphibious landing?
8. How far ahead can the location and time of
tidal waves be forecast, so as to minimize the
damage they produce?
9. What are the best locations for the artificial
cultivation of oysters?
10. What are the most efficient ways to drill for
petroleum under the ocean ?
11. How is sea ice formed, and how does it be­
have in the spring and summer?

Oceanographers use special in s tru m e n ts such as the bathytherm ograph
to make recordings of the te m p e ra ture of the sea at various depths.

The importance of oceanography to the na­
tional defense is indicated by some of these topics.
During World War II. new kinds of vessels and
new types of operations, such as amphibious land­
ings and the use of aircraft in rescuing men adrift
at sea, required information never before system­
atically collected or studied. The Government
called upon workers in oceanography and related
fields to provide the needed data and solve special
problems. For example, the Navy Department



employed oceanographic laboratories to conduct
research on antifouling paints which would pre­
vent barnacles and other marine organisms from
attaching themselves to ships. The contributions
of oceanographers were of such value to the
armed services that provisions were made to con­
tinue research and study on a much larger scale
than before World War II.14
Oceanographers have also been of great assist­
ance in the search for petroleum deposits in tide­
water and undersea areas (particularly in the
Gulf of Mexico). In constructing drilling plat­
forms, engineers must know the probable maxi­
mum height and frequency of the waves, and the
strength of the currents at various depths. Be­
cause drilling for oil produces waste in large
quantities, the oceanographer’s knowledge of
ocean currents and marine biology is useful in
planning ways to prevent the fouling of water
which may destroy game fish, oysters, and
The projects on which oceanographers work
fall into two general categories: basic research,
which may be concerned with any data about the
sea that will contribute to the understanding of
the history of the earth and its life; and the ap­
plication of this information to practical prob­
lems.16 Many investigations in oceanography are
basic theoretical problems. In time of defense
emergency, however, the greater part of the work
may be shifted to emphasis upon operations re­
search and related technical studies.
Oceanography is related in part to micropaleon­
tology, the study of microscopic fossils; to meteor­
ology, the science of weather and weather fore­
casting; and to other geophysical fields; and
geology in general. It is related to such bio­
logical specialties as animal ecology, zoology, and
oceanic microbiology. The shifts in professional
work among oceanography and related scientific
specialties are relatively easy and frequent. For
some purposes a fourfold specialization in ocean­
ography is recognized, with the physical, geologi­
cal, chemical, and biological oceanographer each
working on research indicated by his title.
14 F lem in g , R. H ., T h e S cien ce o f th e S eas, S ch oo l an d C ollege
P la c em e n t, 7 : 2 9 - 3 3 (M ay 1 9 4 7 ).
15 B a te s, C h arles C., an d G lenn , A lfred H ., O cean ograp h y in
th e O ffshore D r illin g C am p aign , W orld O il, A p ril 1948.
16 F lem in g , R. H ., op. cit.

Where Employed

An international directory of oceanographers,
published in 1950, listed about 750 persons in many
nations who have concerned themselves with ma­
rine science.17 About 280 of these were Ameri­
cans, composing about two-thirds of the oceanog­
raphers in this country.
About 80 of the American oceanographers
listed in the directory were on the staffs of marine
and oceanographic laboratories which form a
principal source of employment in oceanography.
Oceanographic research institutions in America
are located on Chesapeake Bay (Chesapeake Bay
Institute of Johns Hopkins University); on the
southern California coast (Scripps Institution of
Oceanography of the University of California) ;
on Cape Cod (Woods Hole Oceanographic Insti­
tution) ; and on the coast of the Pacific Northwest
(Oceanographic Laboratories of the University
of Washington). These seashore laboratories con­
duct investigations in all aspects of the science.
They have the specialized equipment needed for
biological, physical, and geological studies of ma­
rine phenomena, including oceangoing vessels spe­
cially equipped for survey work at sea.
Oceanographers are employed also in several of
the larger universities, although there are few
teachers of oceanography as such. The 1950
In tern ation a l D irecto ry o f O ceanographers listed
40 persons associated with biology departments
and museums, including several working in fish­
eries research. About 30 members of departments
of geology were listed, these being the Nation’s
leading specialists in the geology and geomorph­
ology of submarine earth structures. Depart­
ments of physics and geophysics, and several
laboratories of physical research accounted for
some 15 of the scieutists listed as oceanographers,
6 were working in departments of meteorology.
Altogether, fewer than 100 marine scientists were
in American universities in 1950.
The number of oceanographers in private in­
dustry is even smaller. The 1950 Directory listed
only about 30 geophysicists and geologists work­
ing for oil companies interested in undersea ex­
ploration or production of petroleum.
A n In te r n a tio n a l D irecto ry of O ceanograph ers, p u blished by
th e A llan H ancock F o u n d a tio n , U n iv e r sity of S ou th ern C a liforn ia,
1950. 54 pp.


Between 90 and 100 scientists working for the
Federal Government were listed in the 1950 Direc­
tory. The Department of the Navy, including the
Navy Hydrographic Office and the Navy Elec­
tronics Laboratory, had 30 oceanographers listed;
about 15 more were employed in the Coast and
Geodetic Survey. The remainder were scattered
among a dozen other agencies of the Federal Gov­
ernment. Except in certain bureaus of the De­
partment of the Navy, only a few of these
individuals had the job title of oceanographer.
In 1951 the Hydrographic Office reported the
employment of 70 oceanographers including junior
scientists whose names did not appear in the Direc­
tory. This agency provides information necessary
for the safe navigation of civilian and military
ships and aircraft. Subjects on which the Office
has made surveys include the topography of the
sea floor, surface temperatures and currents, wave
and swell conditions, the behavior of marine or­
ganisms, and the formation of sea ice. The Hydro graphic Office has two specially equipped vessels
for oceanographic surveys and has pioneered in
the development of instruments and equipment for
this work. In recent years, particular attention
has been paid to studies of the Arctic Ocean. The
surveys of the Navy Hydrographic Office, con­
ducted systematically in all parts of the world,
result in the collection of basic statistical data on
the biology, chemistry, and geology of the seas,
besides providing data of immediate importance
to the national defense.
Education and Training

There is no 4-year program of study leading to
a bachelor’s degree in oceanography. The mini­
mum training usually required for professional
work in the specialty is either five or more years
of study of the related natural sciences, or a bach­
elor’s degree in a science basic to oceanographic
work together with two to five years of experience
in oceanography under the close supervision of
professional oceanographers. Such in-service
training is usually in the form of guided research
work on some oceanographic problem. In either
case, course work alone is never sufficient to pre­
pare for a career in oceanography. In addition
to formal instruction, there must be a period of


work at an oceanographic laboratory or research
institution, or experience at sea on a scientific
A recommended list of subjects for a training
program in oceanography includes mathematics,
physics, chemistry, biology, geology, and geo­
physics.18* The actual course work in oceanog­
raphy itself represents only a small fraction of
the total scientific training required. A recom­
mended basic program amounts to five full years
of study, including a summer field course at an
oceanographic laboratory. A second summer of
field work in marine biology is recommended for
the specialist in biological oceanography. The
student’s undergraduate major field of study
would ordinarily be in one of the basic or related
The University of California at Los Angeles
has the oldest formally organized department of
oceanography in the United States. The courses
of instruction, leading to M. S. and Ph. D. degrees,
are given at the nearby Scripps Institution of
Oceanography. Requirements for admission to
the department are a college degree with courses
in biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics,
or a major in mathematics, meteorology, engineer­
ing, or a physical or biological science. The
Scripps Institution faculty includes four physical
oceanographers, three geophysicists, four sub­
marine geologists, one chemical oceanographer,
one marine microbiologist, two marine biologists,
and one marine biochemist. Courses are given in
each of these scientific fields.
In 1951 Brown University, the University of
Miami, Johns Hopkins University, the Texas
Agricultural and Mechanical College, and the
University of Washington were organizing degree
programs in oceanography. Several of the new
programs were being developed with funds for
oceanographic research provided by the Office of
Naval Research and other defense agencies. In
Texas, several of the petroleum companies were
supporting research on problems of underwater
drilling. At the University of Washington, the
work in fisheries biology was being expanded into
a complete oceanographic research program.
18 K nu dsen, V. O., et al., E d u ca tio n and T ra in in g for O ceanog­
raphers, S cien ce, I I I : 7 0 0 -7 0 3 (J u n e 23, 1 9 5 0 ),



How To Enter

Opportunities to obtain training in oceanog­
raphy are limited, because the oceanographic re­
search institutes are too few and small to accept
many research assistants at any one time. Be­
ginning appointments in research laboratories or
industry are often obtained through the assistance
of the university professors under whom the stu­
dent has carried on his thesis research. Teaching
positions are often available in related sciences
(physics, geology, biology) for persons who have
specialized in marine science and have obtained
the doctor’s degree. Graduate students soon
become acquainted with institutions having or­
ganized and subsidized research programs.
Entry positions as oceanographers in the Fed­
eral Government are obtained through civil-serv­
ice examinations. For beginning jobs, the
examination requirements have usually not speci­
fied courses in oceanography as such, but rather
a combination of studies in the physical and
biological sciences. A minimum of 1 year of pro­
fessional experience in oceanographic work also is
required. Persons who have done graduate study
and research in oceanography can usually substi­
tute such study for part of the required work
experience. For responsible positions with gov­
ernment agencies, research institutions, and uni­
versities, the requirements usually include a
doctor’s degree and published contributions to
Employment Outlook

A shortage of oceanographers capable of doing
research work existed at the beginning of the
current mobilization period and is expected to
continue for at least several years. The scien­
tists most needed are those with either a doctor’s
degree in oceanography or extensive experience in
the field. It was estimated in 1950 that as many
as 30 to 40 additional highly trained research
workers were needed in government agencies and
on contract research programs at the universities,
to lay the foundation for technological advances
in military techniques, and to work on such prob­
lems as transportation and communication on and
under the seas.19
19 K n u d sen , V. O., e t ah, op. cit.

The number of persons able and willing to un­
dertake advanced studies in both biological and
physical sciences and to carry on thesis research
in a marine environment is very small. Moreover,
not all students whose research work involves
studies in marine biology or in the geology of the
ocean are available for oceanographic work. Also,
facilities for the training of physical ocean­
ographers are limited. In 1950 only three doc­
torates (one taken in a department of geophysics)
were granted for research work in physical ocean­
ography. Present indications are that the short­
age of highly trained scientific personnel for work
in oceanographic research will not be met during
the present emergency, unless training facilities
are increased for degree work or for on-the-job
instruction of partly qualified scientists in related
The long-run outlook for employment in ocean­
ography depends largely upon the extent to which
investigations in this field are undertaken by
Federal agencies or sponsored in the ocean­
ographic institutions and universities by private
research grants. Research in oceanography can­
not be carried on by single individuals, because
it requires special laboratories and equipment.
It is expected that a continuing national defense
mobilization program will keep the demand at a
high level throughout the fifties.
The Navy Hydrographic Office recognizes the
need for more extensive work on forecasting
oceanic currents, temperature conditions, sea ice,
and the behavior of plant and animal life in the
ocean. Very little has been determined as to how
the efficiency of ship operations might be im­
proved by changes in routes and avoidance of
storms. The United States has yet to organize
a regular fish forecasting service based upon
oceanographic and biological data, though this
would be very valuable to fishermen. If these
projects and other activities proposed by the Navy
Hydrographic Office are carried out, there will
be increased opportunities for research ocean­
ographers in the years ahead.20
20 U . S. D ep a rtm en t o f th e N avy, T he O ceanograph ic P rogram
o f th e U. S. N a v y H y d rograp h ic Office, 1 9 4 6 -1 9 4 9 . (M im eo.
sp eech by D r. R. H . F lem in g, A p ril 21, 1 9 4 9 .)

Nature of Work

Meteorology is the science of the atmosphere
and its phenomena, including weather and climate.
Subjects investigated by meteorologists include
changes in the temperature, pressure, and moisture
of the air, chemical composition of the air, storms,
and methods of forecasting the weather, and the
winds and their effect on climates.
Like most other earth science specialties, meteor­
ology developed only recently as a systematic
science. Many people can remember when the
chief sources of information about the weather
were the almanac and the farmer’s intuition.
Weather forecasts were begun on a limited scale
in the nineteenth century and proved to be use­
ful to ship captains and others affected by storms.
At the present time knowledge of upper air con­
ditions is of immense value in forecasting weather
changes for airlines, highway departments, ship­
ping agencies, and agricultural and business oper­
ations. Air Force operations also depend greatly
on accurate weather forecasts. Nevertheless,
meteorology is a relatively small field of work as
yet. Probably fewer than 2,500 civilians work in
this scientific field in the United States today.
Besides regular weather forecasts, the prob­
lems which have been of interest to meteorologists
in recent years include the following:
1. How can ice formation on airplanes be con­
2. What physical conditions of the upper atmos­
phere are most favorable for rockets?
3. What kinds of instruments are best suited to
use in pilot balloons sent aloft to make weather
and radiation observations?
4. What new kinds of radar detection instru­
ments should be constructed in order to forecast
and observe the intensity of hurricanes ?
5. How can long-range weather forecasting be
made more accurate ?
6. Is it possible to use sunlight to heat homes?
7. In military operations in polar regions, what
are the best ways to cope with permanently frosted
terrain and Arctic weather conditions ?
8. If atomic bombs were* used, how fast, how
far, and in what directions, would air currents
carry radioactive particles?
9. In a given area, what is the best location

for an air base, from the viewpoint of visibility,
rainfall, wind, and temperature conditions?
The close relation of many of these problems to
national defense is obvious. Much of modern
warfare is air warfare, carried on in a realm
where meteorologists (together with their geo­
physicist colleagues) are the scientific interpreters.
Meteorologists consider the atmosphere as a gas
subject to physical laws, and the science is, there­
fore, often regarded as a branch of geophysics.
Many weather phenomena, as well as cosmic radia­
tion, the aurora, and the ionosphere, are of equal
interest and concern to meteorologists and geo­
physicists specializing in terrestrial magnetism
and electricity. Also, many topics studied by geo­
physicists are of equal interest to hydrologists and
F ields o f specialization .—A division of labor
has developed among professional meteorologists,
and several specialized fields have emerged. Basic
or theoretical research claims the attention of
some meteorologists, especially those who teach
and direct student research projects in the grad­
uate schools. Operating research to improve the
efficiency of applied meteorology is especially im­
portant in time of war or defense mobilization.
The third area of specialization is applied mete­
orology, i. e., weather forecasting and weather
Recognized areas of research specialization are:
Physical meteorology, concerned with cloud phys­
ics, radiation, atmospheric acoustics, optics, and
electricity; dynamic meteorology, concerned with
the laws of air movement and the phenomena of
temperature and temperature changes; synoptic
meteorology, concerned with the problem of inter­
preting observations and with basic methods of
forecasting; and climatology.
Climatologists study the weather in a given area
or region through an analysis of past records.
They analyze and summarize the records with re­
spect to wind, rainfall, sunlight, temperature, and
humidity. Such summaries are of value to many
industries and to soil and other agricultural sci­
entists. They also prepare climatic charts and
regional classifications of the earth’s surface, con­
necting this work directly to geography. Clima­
tological analyses of the upper air are of
particular interest and concern to aviation.



balloon to an altitude of G5,000 feet or more. At
intervals during its ascent, it sends high-frequency
radio signals which can be translated into tem­
perature, humidity, and air pressure data.
The fields most closely related to meteorology
are the physical and other earth sciences, including
physics, geophysics, geography, oceanography, and
hydrology. In the development, construction, and
testing of instruments, meteorologists work closely
with electrical and aeronautical engineers.
Professional meteorologists are assisted by
weather observers who take routine weather ob­
servations and may also plot the data on weather
maps, draw weather charts, and keep weather rec­
ords. The essential tasks of the meteorologist are
the analysis and interpretation of the raw data,
and the construction of the instruments used to
obtain this basic information.
Where Employed

The radiosonde balloon carries an in stru m e n t used to obtain meteoro.
logical readings in the upper atm osphere.

Weather forecasters apply the principles of
synoptic meteorology in preparing and analyzing
weather maps (synoptic charts), based on data
from observations made simultaneously at weather
stations in many different locations. They chart
pressure areas, air masses, cross sections of the
atmosphere, areas of rainfall, and temperatures
in order to create the current weather picture for
a given region. Daily weather forecasting in­
volves also the analysis of the daily synoptic
charts for the purpose of forecasting the weather
up to 5 days in advance. Forecasts are usually
made for a given area or air route. Forecasters
may specialize in meteorological work for aviation,
for marine operations, for agriculture, or for the
armed services. Long-range weather forecasting
is a more complex specialty utilizing the techniques
of daily forecasting and also a detailed study of
past trends in the weather and of world-wide in­
teractions in weather conditions; forecasts are
made for five or more days in advance.
Radiometeorology is a specialized field of
weather observation involving the use of the ra­
diosonde (radiometeorograph), and the analysis
of its record. This instrument is sent aloft by

The United States Weather Bureau has long
been the principal employer of meteorologists in
this country. In 1951 this Bureau had about 2,000
professional meteorologists. These meteorologists
supervise hundreds of assistants or aids in the
collection of weather observations. Many of the
Weather Bureau meteorologists are employed in
Washington, D. C., but man}* more are at weather
stations or airports in or near large cities through­
out the country. Some are stationed in remote and
isolated spots in this country or in such places
as Alaska, Wake Island, Hawaii, Puerto Rico,
Iceland, and Ireland.
A small number of meteorologists are employed
by other Government agencies, chiefly in research
work or as consultants. The National Bureau of
Standards of the Department of Commerce em­
ploys a few in the development of new instru­
ments. The Soil Conservation Service of the De­
partment of Agriculture has a few specialists in
climatology who do research on the relation of
the climate to crops and soil or water conservation.
The Air Force employs some meteorologists in its
research laboratories, but other meteorological re­
search for the Department of Defense is done on
a contract basis. Meteorologists so employed can
often remain in their own university laboratories,
where graduate students, working as assistants,
have opportunities for practical research expe­


Meteorologists in the Army, Navy, and Air
Force perform a variety of tasks, such as making
short-range weather forecasts for use in naval and
land operations as well as Air Force activities.
A few may be engaged in long-range forecasting
for military planning.
The commercial airlines had approximately 200
staff members with the title of meteorologist in
1951. These meteorologists analyze weather data
and forecast flight conditions for a given sector
of the company’s routes. They must constantly
study weather trends and provide up-to-the-min­
ute information to captains of planes and dis­
patchers responsible for controlling flights.
Some meteorological training is a legal require­
ment for dispatchers (under the certificate regu­
lations administered by the Civil Aeronautics
Administration of the U. S. Department of Com­
merce) . A meteorological background is useful
also for positions as dispatchers’ assistants and
certain other airline jobs.
Approximately 200 meteorologists were teach­
ing meteorology full time in 1949.21 Since the
war, a number of liberal arts colleges have intro­
duced meteorology into the curriculum. How­
ever, except in colleges with separate departments
of meteorology, instructors in meteorology are
expected to teach also other subjects such as
physics, mathematics, or geography.22 Teachers
often act as consultants or do research on a parttime basis, and they may have administrative
A few meteorologists work as consultants, ad­
vising private business concerns on the contribu­
tion of information on weather conditions to their
business. On the basis mainly of data from the
official Weather Bureau teletype service, these
meteorologists make special forecasts to fit an
industry’s particular needs. Movie companies use
such forecasts in deciding when to “shoot” scenes;
aircraft manufacturers use them in scheduling test
flights; construction companies and highway de­
partments use them in deciding when to call out
their workers. Meteorologists’ services can be
equally useful to other businesses needing weather
advice in making decisions. A purchaser of a
farm can learn what rainfall and how long a
21 C arlin , A lb ert V., A m erican O ccu p ation s, N o. 2, M eteo ro lo g ist,
R esearch P u b lish in g Co., B o sto n , M ass., 1949, p. 18.
22 A m erican M eteo ro lo g ica l S o c iety , W eath er H orizon s, B o sto n ,
M ass., 1947.


growing season to expect. An insurance company
can be informed about storm or flood conditions
typical of an area. A company about to build a
new plant can learn what temperatures to expect
and what insulation and heating equipment will
be needed.
Education and Training

A bachelor’s degree in meteorology, or some
related field with additional courses in meteor­
ology, is the minimum educational requirement
for professional work. A few people have been
able to enter the profession with less formal train­
ing but only after many years of progressive and
varied experience. Graduate work is being em­
phasized more and more and is required for many
jobs, particularly in research and teaching.
Students considering a career in meteorology
will find that one or two introductory courses in
the field are offered at many American colleges.
An introductory course in meteorology will help
a student determine the extent of his interest in
the full-time study of the subject.
Only a few universities and colleges have fullfledged departments of meteorology. In 1950-51,
degree programs were available or were being set
up at the following institutions:
Cornell University, Ithaca, N. Y.
Florida State University, Tallahassee, Fla.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cam­
bridge, Mass.
New York University, New York, N. Y.
Pennsylvania State College, State College, Pa.
Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N. J.
St. Louis University, St. Louis, Mo.
University of California, Los Angeles, Calif.
University of Chicago, Chicago, 111.
University of Texas, Austin, Tex.
University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
University of Washington, Seattle, Wash.
University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis.
Other colleges and universities offer consider­
able work in meteorology, although they may not
grant degrees in the science. At Iowa State Col­
lege instruction in climatology is provided in the
department of agronomy, and a “minor” in meteor­
ology is available in the department of physics.
Courses in meteorology are being developed at the
Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas,



and several of the larger departments of geog­
raphy in other institutions offer instruction in
meteorology as a regular part of their curriculum.
The programs of study differ appreciably
among institutions of higher education, though all
universities place emphasis on the study of the
atmosphere by means of the concepts of mathe­
matics and physics. One institution has a 3-year
program, which begins with the third year of
college, and leads to a master of science degree.
This program includes advanced work in physics,
statistics, and mathematics. Eighteen courses in
meteorology (representing about two-thirds of the
total courses) are required including courses in
Meteorological Observations and Instruments,
Techniques of Upper-Air Observation, Synoptic
Meteorology Laboratory, Fundamentals of
Weather Forecasting, Theoretical Meteorology,
Physical Climatology, Eadiation Physics, Tropi­
cal Meteorology, Physics of the High Atmosphere,
Condensation Phenomena and Atmospheric Elec­
tricity. Advanced courses designed for doctoral
candidates in the same department of meteorology
include Theory of Instrumentation, Electronics,
Problems in Synoptic Meteorology, Advanced
Theoretical Meteorology, Applied Climatology,
Hydrodynamics of Viscous and Nonviscous Fluids.
Both the master’s and doctor’s degree programs
involve extensive application of the concepts of
physics and mathematics and the vise of scientific
papers in foreign languages. P’ractically all of
the courses include extensive laboratory work.
Students with the bachelor’s degree who trans­
fer to this or other programs leading to the mas­
ter's degree in meteorology must often spend two
postgraduate years in study and research to ob­
tain this degree. It generally takes 3 or 4 years
of postgraduate work to obtain a doctorate.
How To Enter

For a research or teaching career in mete­
orology, graduate training is essential. The pro­
fessors who direct thesis research leading to
graduate degrees usually assist new graduates in
locating positions suited to their interests. Con­
tacts made at local and national meetings of pro­
fessional associations, such as the American
Geophysical Union (meteorological section) and
the American Meteorological Society, are often
helpful in securing beginning positions. Mem­

bers of the American Meteorological Society
receive monthly listings of current employment
opportunities from the employment service of
the organization.
A person with only a bachelor’s degree and a
“major” in meteorology may qualify for a begin­
ning job in the United States Weather Bureau
and, occasionally, for industrial meteorological
work. The civil-service examination for junior
meteorologists is given at irregular intervals,
whenever new recruits are needed in the Federal
service. The examination for meteorological aids
is given more frequently, and persons with bach­
elor’s degrees in meteorology are eligible to com­
pete for appointment to this subprofessional work.
Information on employment in the Federal Gov­
ernment may be obtained from the United States
Civil Service Commission and the United States
Weather Bureau, both in Washington, D. C., and
through the American Meteorological Society.
Employment Outlook

Prospects for employment in professional me­
teorology in the early 1950’s are excellent for
persons with master’s or doctor’s degrees, and who
are prepared for research careers in scientific
work. People with only the bachelor’s degree are
likely to find increasing employment opportuni­
ties in professional positions as the defense pro­
gram expands. If preparation for air warfare
is increased considerably, a shortage of qualified
weather forecasters will probably develop. Under
full mobilization, several thousand additional
weather forecasters would be needed at once, and
it might be necessary to train a large number of
them at Government expense, as was done during
World War II.
The number of meteorology graduates has risen
sharply in recent years as new departments have
been organized and as veterans (some with war­
time training or experience in weather work) have
returned to the universities for further study.
Before World War II, the number of persons ob­
taining a doctor’s degree in the field was never
more than 5 a year; but 8 Ph. D. degrees were
granted in 1947, 12 in 1948, 21 in 1949, and 15 in
1950.23* Data on other degrees are available only
23 D o cto ra l D isse r ta tio n s A ccep ted by A m erican U n iv e r sitie s,
1 9 4 9 -5 0 (N o. 1 7 ). C om piled by T he A sso c ia tio n o f R esearch
L ibraries, 1950.


for 1950, when 143 baccalaureates and 51 master’s
degrees in meteorology were granted.24 At least in
the first year or two after VJ-Day, the supply of
meteorologists was also augmented from another
source-—some of the thousands of persons who re­
ceived wartime training in meteorology sought
civilian jobs in this field. This temporary influx
into the profession came at a time when the de­
mand for personnel was decreasing, except in
teaching; Altogether, during the period from
1946 through 1950 there was an oversupply of
persons available for work in weather forecasting.
In early 1951 the defense program was quickly
absorbing the available supply of qualified mete­
orologists. Most of the persons trained in meteor­
ology during World War II had entered other
fields of employment and could no longer be re­
garded as a part of the meteorology labor supply.
Furthermore, the number of research meteorolo­
gists with graduate degrees was not greatly in­
creased by the war-training programs. When
defense mobilization began in 1950, a sufficient
number of highly trained meteorologists were not
available. By June 1951, plans were again being
discussed for training courses for weather fore­
casters in the Air Force, and consideration was
being given to the probable needs of the aviation
industry in the event of a more critical emergency.
The first civil-service examination for meteorolo­
gists since 1949 was opened in the summer of 1951.
If an increasing number of reservists are called to
duty as weather officers in the Air Force, as ex­
pected, many of these men will vacate jobs in the
United States Weather Bureau, and replacements
will be required.
In the long run, the profession of meteorology
will probably continue to grow slowly. Mete­
orological work, however, is not likely to expand


enough to provide civilian employment for the
thousands of persons who might be trained for
temporary duties in weather forecasting under a
full mobilization program. Although the air
transportation industry is regarded as a slowly
expanding source of employment, the number of
meteorologists needed would not increase in pro­
portion to the number of planes in the air. The
services of the United States Weather Bureau
already cover the Nation rather extensively. Re­
search meteorologists with broad training and
experience will undoubtedly continue to find good
opportunities. One possible source of future em­
ployment for these scientists, the extent of which
cannot be accurately estimated at the present time,
is in the field of artificial precipitation (rain­
making) . In weather-modification activities some
meteorologists are already working as consultants
on contracts with private organizations. It is
expected that further research will be undertaken
by government agencies, universities, and private
concerns to explore and evaluate the results of
artificial precipitation experiments. Until more
progress has been made in basic meteorological
research, however, the opportunities for employ­
ment in applied meteorology will probably remain
limited. In the meantime, there is a great deal of
interest in industrial meteorology, and advances
both in consultation services to industry and in
weather-modification activities may be rapid.
Opportunities for the employment of women in
meteorology will probably continue to be limited,
and they are likely to be in women’s colleges,
where courses in meteorology are taught along
with other scientific subjects. A few positions in
the Weather Bureau are especially suited to
women, and it is the policy of the Bureau to en­
courage qualified women applicants.25

See U. S. D ep a rtm en t o f L abor, W om en’s B u reau , B u lletin
U. S. Office o f E d u ca tio n , E arn ed D egrees C on ferred by H igh er N o. 2 2 3 -7 , T he O utlook for W om en in G eology, G eography and
M eteorology, op c i t pp. 2 8 -3 9 .
E d u c a tio n a l In stitu tio n s, 1 9 4 9 -5 0 , W ash in gton , D . C.

Nature of Work

Geography did not emerge as a separate science
and occupation until the nineteenth century and
did not become fully established until the twen­
tieth. It is still a small profession. The number

of professional geographers in the United States
in 1951 is estimated to be between 1,500 and 2,000.26
26 C om m ittee on C areers in G eography, N a tio n a l R esearch Counc'l and A sso c ia tio n o f A m erican G eographers, Som e B a sic F a c ts
A bout G eograph ers and G eography in th e U n ited S ta tes, Ja n u a ry



Another 1,500 or more persons are teachers of
geography in the public elementary and secondary
schools. More than half of this latter group are
women.27 A few women are also in other
branches of the profession.

The wide range of topics studied by geog­
raphers is indicated by the following sample list
of research projects in progress in 1949, which
were among those reported by members of the
Association of American Geographers in the
Association’s Annual Directory:
1. Aids for air photo interpretation.
2. Urban land use and the expansion of cities.
3. The geography of Middle East oil deposits.
4. The geography of the State of Mississippi.
5. Bituminous coal strip-mining in the United
6. Physiographic history of the Caribbean area.
7. The natural resources of the Soviet Union.
8. Applications of motion pictures to geo­
graphic research.
9. The geographical aspects of Europe’s food
10. Methods of construction and reproduction
of three-dimensional maps.
Where Employed

A geographer photographs a clay deposit in M a ta n uska V alley, A laska.
G eographers are intere sted in various problem s



Professional geographers scientifically describe
the earth’s land surface, vegetation, climate, min­
erals, soil, water supply, and inhabitants and the
uses people make of the natural resources at their
disposal. Geographers are specialists in regional
analysis. The fundamental premise of the science
is that regional differences and similarities have
a variety of complex physical and cultural causes.
To discover these causes and utilize or control
them in man’s interest, geographers study the
diverse physical and cultural processes which
have operated to change a mountain range into a
plateau or a forest into a farming area. It fol­
lows that geography is both a natural and a social
science, and most geographers must learn to con­
duct investigations in both fields.
See U . S. D ep a rtm en t o f L abor, W om en’s B u reau , B u lle tin
2 3 3 -7 , T h e O u tlook fo r W om en in G eology, G eograph y, and
M eteorology, op. c it., pp. 1 4 -2 5 .

Colleges and u n iversities .—About 75 percent of
geographers were members of college and uni­
versity staffs in 1950. This constituted a much
greater proportion so employed than before World
War II, and resulted from the sharp rise since
YfiJ-Day in the number of geography departments
and the number of students “majoring” in the
subject. In 1950 about 25 of the larger universi­
ties, more than twice as many as in 1940, had
geography departments offering doctoral pro­
grams. Some of these departments have teaching
staffs of 10 or more, and extensive facilities and
financial aid for research. Most college and uni­
versity teachers of geography are located, how­
ever, in the much larger number of institutions
that offer only undergraduate or (less often) firstyear graduate training in geography. Many teach
in colleges not having separate departments of
geography, and so are assigned to departments
of geology, economics, or business administration.
Geography is studied by many persons as a
part of their general education or as a part of their
basic training for various professional fields, in­
cluding business administration, political science,
geology, and other earth sciences. A survey made
in 1949-50 indicated that nearly a quarter of a
million college students, mainly undergraduates,
were enrolled in 3,000 geography courses taught


by 1,500 teachers.28 Only a small number of these
students were planning careers in' geography.
Furthermore, the teachers of these courses in­
cluded not only professional geographers but also
faculty members with training primarily in
geology, business administration, or other fields.
This information was gathered when college en­
rollments were at an all-time high. Enrollments
were especially heavy in collegiate schools of busi­
ness, where one or two introductory courses in
economic geography are often required of fresh­
man and sophomore students.
F ederal G overnm ent agencies .—More than 200
professional geographers were employed by the
Federal Government in 1950, mainly in the De­
partments of Defense and State. Probably not
more than a fourth of these are officially called
geographers; the others have various job titles
such as economic analyst, intelligence specialist,
cartographer, and area specialist.29
Regardless of the job-title used, about half of
the geographers in the Federal Government are
working on the oldest aspect of the profession—■
maps, including the collection of data for map
making and the interpretation of maps. The other
half are engaged in various kinds of research and
administrative work. In any case, the work of
the Government geographer is likely to require
specialized knowledge of some region of the earth,
some phase of the economy of a country, or the
utilization of some natural resource such as water
power, oil, or coal.
In addition to the 200 professional geographers
in the Federal service in 1950, many other Govern­
ment employees have had some training in the
science. The United States Civil Service Com­
mission recognized the value of advanced geo­
graphical studies in the work of foreign affairs
officers and intelligence research specialists by in­
cluding them among the educational prerequisites
for the examinations for these positions in 1950.
Except for the Department of State and the
defense and intelligence agencies, the Federal
agency employing the most geographers is the
28 Schw en d em an , J. R., S u rvey o f th e S ta tu s o f C ollege G eog­
rap h y in In stitu tio n s o f H ig h er L ea rn in g in th e U n ited S ta te s
(m im eo .). D ep a rtm en t o f G eograp h y, U n iv e r sity o f K en tu ck y,
L ex in g to n , K en tu ck y, 1951.
29 T a y lo r, G riffith, ed., G eograp h y in th e T w e n tie th C entu ry,
N ew Y ork, T h e P h ilo so p h ic a l L ib rary, 1951 (esp . Ch. 24, R ose,
Jo h n K err, G eograp h y in P ra c tic e in th e F ed era l G overn m en t,
W a sh in g to n , D . C., pp. 5 6 6 -5 8 6 ).


Department of Commerce. In this Department
the Bureau of the Census has a Division of Geog­
raphy which works on all censuses of population,
housing, manufactures, and agriculture. Census
Bureau publications often contain outline maps
of the areas covered. In preparation for the 1950
census of population, the Division of Geography
drew up official descriptions of the boundaries of
each metropolitan area based upon studies of pop­
ulation clusters around large cities. Other geog­
raphers work in the Department’s Office of
Foreign and Domestic Commerce and Office of
International Trade.
The Board of Geographic Names of the De­
partment of the Interior serves as a review agency
for decisions on official place names of both natural
features (mountains, lakes, and rivers) and
localities. Because the Federal Government is
the world’s largest map publisher, and because
exploration and resurveys of isolated areas are
still adding to geographic knowledge, the geog­
raphers employed by this Board have an im­
portant part in place-name geography (topo­
nymies). A few geographers do highly skilled
map compilation work in the United States Geo­
logical Survey, which is also in the Department of
the Interior. A few are employed in the Soil Con­
servation Service of the Department of Agricul­
ture and in other agencies making extensive use
of maps. The Federal Government also employs
some geographers as map librarians and curators
of map collections, as in the Library of Congress,
which has one of the world’s largest map collec­
P riva te in d u stry .—Although the number of
geographers employed by private business con­
cerns is small, employers are beginning to recog­
nize the value of geographic information and
interpretation. A manufacturer building a large
plant must select a location accessible to both the
sources of his raw materials and the markets for
his products. Geography and economics combine
to supply industry with answers to problems such
as the above. Economic geography, now a wellestablished field of specialization, is the study of
the distribution of economic activities and rela­
tionships between resources, localities, markets,
and other economic factors.
An important phase of geographic work in
industry is in foreign trade and foreign area
analysis. The great corporations in the oil, rub-



ber, metal, chemical, food products, and other
industries require detailed knowledge of many
aspects of their foreign markets. Economic
geographers both in government and in private
industry bring together information on foreign
areas in order to help the United States expand
its world markets and find raw materials for its
S econ dary and elem en tary schools .—Geography
has long been a regular subject of instruction in
elementary and secondary schools. By studying
geography, children learn about other lands and
peoples and also about commercial relationships
between city and country, the effect of the location
of war materials on the development of American
industry, and other geographic factors of great
importance in national and international affairs.
In elementary schools teachers do not specialize
in geography but cover a wide range of subjects
and activities, working with one group of pupils
during the entire day. On the other hand,
geography teachers in junior and senior high
schools have considerable training in the science
as well as in teaching methods. Even in such
schools, however, these teachers must often give
instruction in subjects such as history, civics, or
some other natural or social science, in addition
to geography.
Many of the 1,500 public-school teachers of
geography have not obtained advanced degrees in
geography and, therefore, are not qualified for
research or college-teaching positions in profes­
sional geography. They are likely to regard
themselves primarily as teachers, rather than
scientists, and they have a separate association
of their own—the Xational Council of Geography
Education and Training

To qualify as a professional geographer one
must generally have graduate training, although
it is sometimes possible for persons with only the
bachelor’s degree to obtain full professional status
after several years of work experience. Under­
graduate studies usually provide only a general
introduction to geographic knowledge and re­
search methods, and often do not include the field
studies necessary for professional competence.
Students planning to work as professional geog­
raphers should, therefore, secure at least the mas­

ter’s degree. (This degree, or a bachelor’s degree
and 2 years of professional experience, is required
for professional membership in the Association of
American Geographers.)
Young people considering careers in geography
would also do well to inquire about the types of
courses offered and the specializations possible in
the various colleges and universities. The follow­
ing sample list of undergraduate and graduate
courses offered in different geography departments
suggests the range of subjects covered. Although
no institution offers all of these courses, the larger
departments have many not included on this list:
S y s te m a tic G eo g ra ph y

Economic Geography
Principles of Geography
Land Resources
Earth Features
Political Geography
Human Geography
Historical Geography
Industrial Geography
Trade Geography
Urban Geography

R eg io n a l G eograph y

World Geography
Regional Geography
North America
South and Middle America
Australia and Pacific Area
U. S. S. R.
Polar Geography

M eth od o log y

Field Techniques
Geography in Education
Source Materials
Map Interpretation
Aerial Photography

Three sample course descriptions are given be­
low to suggest the content of college courses in
1. C u ltu ral G eograph y of E a st A sia .—A com­
prehensive and systematic survey of the geo­
graphical distribution and interpretation of the
major racial groups and cultural patterns of
China, Japan, and Korea. Special emphasis will
be placed upon the unique characteristics of the


peoples of these areas, their basic cultural institu­
tions, outlooks on life, contemporary problems,
and trends of cultural change. Designed specially
for students of the social sciences and those pre­
paring for careers in foreign service, foreign trade,
education, and international relations.
2. P roblem s of M ap E va lu a tio n .—A review of
the status of topographic mapping with consider­
ation of important schools of topographic con­
cepts and practices. Theoretical and practical
means of determining map reliability and utility,
including studies of map coverage. Emphasis on
methods of preparation of data for compilation
purposes, including a study of types of source
materials. Methods of map cataloging and bibli­
ography will be considered.
3. Sum m er F ield Course .—Intensive training in
methods and techniques of geographic field obser­
vations and recording. Practical experience in
conducting land utilization surveys and the prepa­
ration of reports. Field study of the location and
site factors affecting selected industrial establish­
ments. Water-use problems. For geography
majors and for those preparing for careers in
regional planning. Requires 6 weeks’ residence
in a selected nonurban field area.
During the freshman and sophomore years the
college student can usually take only introductory
courses in geography. Specialized work in the
chosen major field normally begins in the junior
year. For those who plan to take doctorates, the
junior year is the beginning of a 5- or 6-year pro­
gram of study and research. Graduate study for
the master’s and doctor’s degrees involves geo­
graphic field work and laboratory work as well
as classroom studies. The student’s thesis is based
upon field work, and is usually his first independ­
ent experience in collecting and organizing earth
science data. Skills in geographic research meth­
ods obtained in field work are the distinguishing
marks of the professional geographer. It is often
desirable for students to interrupt their studies
with periods of employment related to their field
interest. Instructors can often guide students to
jobs that contribute to their professional knowl­
edge and maturity.
A doctor’s degree is particularly important for
a career in college or university teaching. It may
be required for appointment even to a position
as instructor and is especially necessary for ad­


vancement. In the university department, ad­
vancement from instructor to full professor is
relatively slow and may depend as much upon the
quality and quantity of published research as
upon performance in teaching.
Individuals with the bachelor’s degree in geog­
raphy sometimes qualify for positions as carto­
graphic aids, if their training includes the required
technical courses. They may also qualify for a
few junior professional positions as geographers
in the Federal service, and occasionally for junior
positions on the staffs of State and city planning
boards. If they have taken the required courses
in professional education, they can qualify for
teacher’s certificates and become eligible for posi­
tions in secondary-school teaching.
The qualifications required for geographer po­
sitions in the Federal Government are set forth
in the United States Civil Service Commission’s
examination announcements. An announcement
issued in May 1951 for the grade of position above
the junior level stated that applicants must have
either a master's degree or a bachelor’s degree
with an acceptable major in geography plus one
full year of professional experience. Persons
with doctorates or additional experience in geog­
raphy were eligible for higher-level positions. At
all levels, it was possible to substitute experience
of the following types for advanced graduate
(1) Geographical research in Government; (2)
land planning research as an analyst or consult­
ant; (3) military, air, or naval intelligence re­
search; (4) business or industrial research as a
technical advisor, analyst, or consultant; or (5)
college teaching as an instructor or professor of
How To Enter

New graduates who enter college teaching usu­
ally obtain their first positions through the depart­
ment heads and placement officers of the institu­
tions from which they graduated. Entry into
college teaching jobs is sometimes possible on a
part-time basis while the student is completing
his advanced graduate studies. Beginning teach­
ing positions in the public schools may be ob­
tained through college placement officers, teachers’
agencies, or direct contacts with school principals.



Information on certification and other require­
ments may be obtained from the State depart­
ments of education or from superintendents or
principals of specific school systems.30
Employment in the Federal Government in the
field of geography is usually secured by passing a
civil-service examination. Students soon to com­
plete their formal education are well advised to
watch for announcements of such examinations in
the fields of work for which they may be qualified.
New graduates with only the bachelor's degree
sometimes start in Government work by taking
jobs as cartographers or cartographic aids.
At present geographers who wish to work for
private commercial firms must “sell” their services
to these companies, because geographic service to
business has not been widely developed. It is sug­
gested that efforts of this kind be made by students
in connection with their thesis research.31 Stu­
dents seeking positions with concerns having
foreign interests might profitably study foreign
market problems on which information would be
valuable to these firms. As an approach to a firm
doing business within this country, the student
might ask to make a study of the firm’s marketing
operations or manufacturing processes insofar as
these are influenced by factors of location. Urban
land-use studies have sometimes led to positions
with city and State planning boards. Contacts
made with fellow members of professional scien­
tific societies are often helpful in obtaining be­
ginning positions in teaching and government
work as well as private industry.

a high level of scientific knowledge and skill, ob­
tainable only through a combination of advanced
training and specialized experience, is required for
such employment.
During World War II, the rise in employment
of geographers in civilian government agencies
and the Armed Forces was great, in relation to
the size of the profession. The number of civilian
geographers on the Federal payroll increased from
a prewar figure of around 50 to as many as 500 in
1945.32 At the war’s peak in 1945, more than 300
geographers were serving in the Armed Forces;
of that group, some 75 percent used geographic
skills in their military assignments.33 Approxi­
mately 800 members of the profession taught in
military programs at some time during the war.34
However, many of these teachers were included
also in the figures on Federal employees and mem­
bers of the Armed Forces just cited.
It appears likely that similar movements in
geography personnel will take place during the
next few years beginning in mid-1951. Some
faculty members will probably move to Govern­
ment employment as enrollments decrease and the
defense program advances. The normal demand
for geographers as teachers in colleges and uni­
versities may be temporarily limited to necessary
replacements. In the immediate future oppor­
tunities in high-school teaching will result largely
from the current high turn-over rates among
school teachers.
Since June 1950 the civil-service roster of per­
sons eligible for appointment to Government
positions as geographers has been exhausted, indi­
Employment Outlook
cating that opportunities for employment in the
Government have increased sharply.
Employment opportunities for professional Federal
Shortages of experienced geographers developed
geographers will probably continue to expand. In by
1951 in the Army Map Service and in
the early 1950’s, an increasing number of geog­ otherearly
of the Department of Defense carrying
raphers, particularly those with specialized knowl­ on intelligence
research. Prospects in carto­
edge of certain foreign areas, will probably be
logistics, and foreign
employed by the Federal Government in activities
related to international relations, international area analysis are good for persons with the requi­
trade, the technical assistance program for under­ site experience. In addition, a small number of
developed areas, and military planning. Often, well-qualified new graduates are being selected
for assistants to experienced scientists.
80 U . S. D ep a r tm en t o f L abor, B u reau o f L abor S ta tistic s,
B u lle tin N o. 9 7 2 . E m p lo y m en t O utlook fo r E lem en ta ry and
32 T a y lo r, G riffith, op. cit.
S econ d ary S ch oo l T each ers. G overn m en t P r in tin g Office, W a sh ­
33 D ea sy , G eorge F ., W ar-T im e C h anges in O ccu p ation o f G eog­
in g to n , D . C., 19 4 9 . S ee also S u p p lem en t (1 9 5 1 ) to B u lle tin
raphers, T he P r o fe ssio n a l G eographer, 7 : pp. 3 3 -4 1 (A p ril 194 8 ).
N o. 972'.
34 M iller, E . W illa rd , G eograph y in th e A rm y S p ecia lized T r a in ­
N a tio n a l R esearch C ou n cil, D iv isio n o f G eology an d G eog­
in g P rogram , T he P r o fe ssio n a l G eographer, 3 : N os. 3 - 4 (M a y raphy, F o re ig n R esearch O p p o rtu n ities fo r G rad u ate S tu d en ts
Ju n e 1 9 4 5 ).
in G eograp h y, W a sh in g to n , D. C., D ecem ber 194 9 (m im eo .).



The supply of geographers has increased con­
siderably since World War II, although geog­
raphy remains a relatively small field. The num­
ber of Ph. D. degrees granted annually in geog­
raphy averaged about 12 during the period 193046 but increased to 40 in 1949-50 (see table 4).
The relative increase in degrees granted has
been much greater in geography than in all fields
since World War II. The number of graduates
with “majors” in geography was more than 40
ably continue high during the next few years,
wdiereas the total number of college graduates
rose by only 18 percent. This increase in geog­
raphy graduates was probably due to heightened
interest in the subject on the part of veterans
who had been sent to other countries during the
war or who had had opportunity to see the prac­
tical uses of geography in intelligence work and
military planning. Furthermore, the number of
colleges offering training in geography, especially
at the graduate professional level, increased
sharply during the past 5 years.
The number of bachelor’s degrees granted in
geography (as in practically all other fields) is
expected to decrease in' the early 1950’s. How­
ever, the number of graduate degrees will prob­
ably continue high during the next few years.
Very good employment opportunities should await
geographers with doctorates, and the prospects for
those with only the master’s degree are reasonably
good. As previously noted, the bachelor’s degree
is not sufficient to qualify one for most positions
in professional geography.
In the long run, the principal field for profes­
sional geographers will probably continue to be
college teaching, assuming that the country does
not enter into full mobilization. Opportunities
for geography teachers in secondary schools are
expected to expand in the latter part of the decade,

T able 4.—Number of degrees granted in geography,

Bachelor’s degree M aster’s degree
Academic year


Doctor’s degree

N u m ­ change
N um ­ change
N um ­ change
ber previous ber previous

+ 43.1
+ 48.1


-1 2 .1
+ 47.1


+ 64.7
+ 4 2 .9

Source: U . S. Office of Education.

when the large numbers of children born during
World War II reach high-school age. As these
young people graduate from high school in the
late 1950’s and the 1960’s, there will be a sharp
increase in the college-age population. Further­
more, the proportion of young people attending
colleges in the United States is increasing steadily.
Research in geography in colleges and universi­
ties will probably obtain greater support. These
and other factors point to good long-run employ­
ment prospects for persons desiring to train them­
selves for academic careers in geography.
Utilization of professional geographers in in­
dustry, trade, market analysis, and other phases
of business enterprise has just begun. This field
should continue to offer good opportunities for
small numbers of experienced geographers who
can convince employers of the economic advan­
tages of employing a consultant or specialist in
geographic analysis as applied to their particular
Demand for geographers in Government service
is likely to decline if defense activities slacken.
However, a limited number of geographers will
continue to be employed in agencies where maps
are compiled, where a knowledge of foreign areas
is valuable, and where evaluation of American
and foreign natural resources is undertaken.

Starting Salaries

The general range of entrance salaries received
by earth science graduates in research and devel­
opment laboratories is suggested by a survey cov­
ering 27,000 scientists in such laboratories in

1950.35 The average monthly salary for beginners
with the bachelor’s degree was found to be $279.
In the petroleum industry, which no doubt em35
L os A lam os S cien tific L ab o ratory o f th e U n iv e r sity o f C ali­
fo rn ia , 195 0 N a tio n a l Su rvey o f P r o fe ssio n a l S cien tific S a la r ie s,
L os A lam os. N. M ex,



ployed most of the relatively few earth scientists
included in the survey, inexperienced persons with
only the bachelor’s degree had an average monthly
salary of $291. Average salaries among Ph. D.’s
ranged from about $450 a month for those who
had received the bachelor of science degree 3 years
earlier to more than $700 for those with more than
20 years’ experience since their baccalaureate.
The salary levels for new graduates trained as
petroleum engineers or geophysical technologists
are suggested also by a survey of beginning salary
rates for approximately 11,000 engineering grad­
uates in 1950.36 The median monthly salary of
these graduates was about $265. Salaries varied
somewhat depending on the region in which the
young engineers were employed. The medians
ranged from about $250 monthly in the South
Atlantic States to $275 in the Pacific States.
Earnings of Ph. D. Scientists 37

Information on the earnings of earth scientists
with Ph. D.’s is available from a study of persons
listed in the 1949 directory of “American Men
of Science.” 38 In interpreting the data on earn­
ings of Ph. D.’s, it must be noted that holders of
doctorates tend, in general, to have higher earn­
ings than members of the same profession with
less academic training. This has been shown by
many studies of professional earnings. There has
also been a general upward trend in earnings in
this country, since the time of the survey in
The median annual salary of earth scientists
with Ph. D.’s was about $5,710 in mid-1948. One
out of four of these scientists made over $7,130,
and three out of four, over $4,650. The scientists
employed in private industry had a much higher
36 A m erican S o ciety for E n g in ee rin g E d u ca tio n in coop eration
w ith E n g in ee rs’ J o in t C ou ncil, S u rvey o f E m p loym en t S ta tu s of
1950 E n g in eerin g G rad u ates. M im eo.
37 A ll d a ta in th is sectio n are from B u lle tin N o. 1027, E m p lo y ­
m ent, E d u ca tio n , an d E a rn in g s o f A m erican M en o f S cien ce.
P repared by th e U. S. D ep a rtm en t o f L ab or’s B u reau o f Labor
S ta tistic s in co o p era tio n w ith U . S. D ep a rtm en t o f D efen se.
G overnm en t P r in tin g Office, W a sh in g to n , D . C., 1951.
38 T h ese d a ta cover a la rg e and im p o rta n t segm en t of th e earth
scien ce p ro fessio n s, b ecau se th e p rop o rtion o f sc ie n tists w ith
d o cto ra tes is h igh in a num ber o f sp e c ia ltie s— p a r tic u la r ly am ong
th o se en gaged in research or colleg e tea ch in g . In ap p lied fields
su ch a s ex p lo ra tio n g eo p h y sics an d geology, h ow ever, th e m a jo rity
o f sc ie n tis ts h ave on ly b ach elo r’s degrees, and th ere are som e
person s w ith o u t d o cto ra tes in a ll m ajor sp ec ia ltie s.

median salary ($7,780) than those employed solely
in Government ($6,120) and those working only
for educational institutions ($5,200).
Scientists specializing in geophysics tended to
have higher salaries than other earth scientists
included in the survey. This was probably due
to the high proportion of geophysicists employed
in private industry (table 5).
T able 5.— M edian a n n u a l sa la rie s o f ea rth sc ie n tis ts iv ith
P h. D . d eg rees an d p ercen t of sc ie n tis ts w o rk in g fo r
m a jo r ty p e s of e m p lo y e rs , 1948
Field of specialization


All earth sciences.. ________ _ .. $5.710
Geology____ . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
M eteorology-____ _________

6, 780
5, 670
5, 630
5, 670

Percent of scientists
employed solely in—

Govern­ Private







Only half the earth scientists in the survey re­
ported supplementary professional income in ad­
dition to their regular salaries. The median added
income was $1,100. As shown in table 6, the
proportion with added income was largest among
the scientists with the lowest salaries—many of
whom were college faculty members who taught
summer school classes or did other work during
the Summer vacation. In terms of the amount of
added income received, however, these lower paid
scientists did not fare as well as those with higher
salaries—who were often in a position to render
highly paid counseling services to private industry
or Government agencies.
6 .— A d d e d p ro fe ssio n a l in com e o f ea rth sc ie n tis ts
w ith P h. D . d eg re es , ~by am ou n t of reg u la r an n u al s a la r y ,

T able

Regular salary

Total_____ _________ . . . . .
$5,000-$5,999_______ ___
$9,000-$9,999_____________________ . . .
$10,000 and over. _
. . .


income 1




76. 2
57. 2
39. 7

1 Percentages based only on scientists reporting regular salary.
2 Insufficient reports to compute median.


Salaries in College and University Teaching

The average salaries of college faculty members
of different ranks indicate the general range of
salaries received by earth scientists in this field of
employment, although separate figures are not
available for these scientists.
A sample study made by the United States Office
of Education showed that in 1947-48 the average
salary for the academic year for professors was
$5,758; associate professors, $4,594; assistant pro­
fessors, $3,892; and instructors, $2,950. The over­
all average for all college teachers studied was
$4,147. Important differences in earnings levels
were found when faculty members were classified
by age, sex, degree held, and length of teaching
More recent data on the salaries paid by a se­
lected grjup of 41 colleges and universities are
available from a survey made by the American
Association of University Professors. It is prob­
able that the colleges studied paid salaries some­
what higher, on the average, than those paid by
all institutions of higher education in the country.
The average salaries received by faculty members
of these institutions in 1948-49 and 1949-50 are
shown in table 7.
Figures on faculty earnings in 1950-51 are avail­
able for 200 teachers' colleges.40 These colleges
included on their teaching staffs a number of
geographers, but relatively few other earth scien­
tists. In the institutions reporting, the median
salaries in 1950-51 were, for instructors, $3,400;
assistant professors, $4,000; associate professors,
$4,300; and full professors, $5,000. The range of
salaries was from $1,350 for the lowest paid in­
structors, to $11,000 for some professors.
The data presented above indicate the range
of earnings in the field of college and university
teaching which may be expected by persons plan­
ning for careers in such work. Although earnings
of college teachers are not usually as high as those
obtained by professional workers in industry and
39 K elly , F . J., S a la ries o f C ollege T each ers, H ig h er E d u ca tio n ,
5 : 187 (A p ril 15, 1 9 4 9 ).
40 A m erican A sso c ia tio n o f C olleges fo r T each er E d u ca tio n ,
T he C om m ittee on S tu d ies and S ta n d a rd s, S a la ry S ch ed u les and
S a la r ie s P a id in C olleges for T each er E d u ca tio n , 1 9 5 0 -1 9 5 1 .
7 pp., m im eo.


T able 7. —Average annual salaries of college teachers in

selected institutions, 191+8-1+9 and 191+9-501
Averagie salary
Academic rank
1948-49 1949-50

Associate professors-Assistant professors __
Instructors___________ -___ _

$6, 753


2. 2


1. 9

1 Instructional Salaries in 41 Selected Colleges and Universities for the
Academic Year 1949-50, Bulletin of the American Association of University
Professors, Vol. 35, No. 4, Winter, 1949.

Government, certain advantages (such as tenure,
long vacations, opportunity for independent re­
search) make college teaching attractive to many
Federal Government Salaries

Since the salary scales for Federal employees
are fixed by law, much more detailed information
is available on the salary levels of earth scientists
in Government jobs than of those in other fields
of employment. Federal salaries are graduated
in relation to the degrees of responsibility involved
in the given position. In addition, periodic in­
creases, above the base salary for each grade, are
given to workers whose job performance is satis­
New graduates with only the bachelor’s degree
began professional positions at a yearly salary
of $3,410 in late 1951; those with a master’s degree
or a baccalaureate and 1 year of qualifying ex­
perience, began at $4,205, and those with a doctor's
degree or an equivalent combination of education
and experience, at $5,060. Only a small number
of persons with the minimum professional educa­
tion (bachelor’s degree) and no previous work ex­
perience in their chosen field are hired during any
given year; more earth scientists start with the
Government at a salary of $4,205 than at $3,410.
Persons with sufficient education, on-the-job
experience, and a record of professional attain­
ment can qualify for positions with base salaries
of $5,940, $7,040, or more. Opportunities for ini­
tial appointment to positions with salaries above
$5,940 are infrequent, however. These high-level
positions are usually supervisory or administra­
tive in nature and are filled, as a rule, by promo­
tion of persons already with the agency.

Where To Get Further Information
Professional Associations
Information on the various earth science fields
can often be obtained from the professional so­
cieties which have been formed by groups of scien­
tists with common interests in one of the special­
ized fields of wmrk. Many of the societies main­
tain permanent offices, with a full-time secretary
or other official. The societies stipulate the re­
quirements for membership, setting different
standards for associate and other types of mem­
bership. Their definitions of the amounts of ed­
ucation and experience needed for professional
membership have an important effect upon the
college courses of study set-up for training pur­
poses. The societies interpret their profession to
the public at large and serve as sources of in­
formation about employment opportunities, train­
ing facilities, and other subjects of interest to
prospective entrants. They usually publish pro­
fessional journals and research papers, and hold
national, regional, and local chapter meetings.
Some of the societies maintain a placement service
for members.
The American Geological Institute, 2101 Con­
stitution Avenue NW., Washington 25, D. C., is a
federation of 12 professional societies, each of
which represents a special field of interest within
the earth sciences. Each group publishes its own
journal, and often a newsletter or bulletin as well.
Most of the organizations have State or local
chapters. Further information on the associa­
tions may be requested from the Institute. The
following organized groups made up the member­
ship of the American Geological Institute in 1951:
American Association of Petroleum Geolo­
American Geophysical Union.
American Institute of Mining and Metal­
lurgical Engineers.
Association of American State Geologists.
Geological Society of America.
Mineralogical Society of America.
Paleontological Society.
Seismological Society of America.
Society of Economic Geologists.

Society of Economic Paleontologists and
Society of Exploration Geophysicists.
Society of Vertebrate Paleontology.
The American Meteorological Society main­
tains permanent offices at 5 Joy Street, Boston,
Mass. It publishes a bulletin (10 issues each year)
and a bimonthly Journal of Meteorology. In
1951 the Society had about 4,000 members, about
half of whom were professional members, viz.,
persons who met the education and experience re­
quirements set up to define this classification.
Membership in the Association of American
Geographers is limited to professional geogra­
phers. Its publications are the Annals of the
Association of American Geographers and The
Professional Geographer. Annual meetings, de­
voted to the presentation of research papers, are
sponsored by the association, which is organized
into branches permitting frequent meetings of
geographers in a local area. The central office
of the association is located in the Division of
Maps of the Library of Congress, Washington 25,
D. C.
The National Council of Geography Teachers
fosters geographic education and seeks to increase
the effectiveness of geography teaching. It pub­
lishes the Journal of Geography and two irregular
series of publications known as the Professional
Papers and the Geographic Education Series.
The secretary of the Council is Miss M. Melvina
Svec, State Teachers College, Oswego, N. Y.
Government Sources

Announcements of United States civil-service
examinations for positions in the earth sciences
are available from the central office in Washing­
ton, D. C., and also from 12 regional offices of the
Commission, and are posted in all first- and secondclass post offices. Examinations are opened
annually for some of the earth science fields. For
others, announcements are issued irregularly, ac­
cording to the needs of the service for particular
kinds of scientific personnel. In addition to the


examination announcements, the United States
Civil Service Commission issues general informa­
tional bulletins describing Government work.
A few agencies employing large numbers of
earth scientists (such as the Geological Survey,
the Weather Bureau, and the Navy Hydrographic
Office) publish descriptive pamphlets about their


work, and these usually contain information about
the professional duties required of earth scientists
in the Federal service. The United States
Weather Bureau, Washington, D. C., should be
consulted directly for information on positions
with that agency, as well as on the student-aid
program for prospective meteorologists.

Occupational Outlook Publications of the Bureau of Labor Statistics
Studies of employment trends and opportunities in the various occupations and professions are
made available by the Occupational Outlook Service of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
These reports are for use in the vocational guidance of veterans, in assisting defense planners, in
counseling young people in schools, and in guiding others considering the choice of an occupation.
Schools concerned with vocational training and employers and trade-unions interested in on-the-job
training have also found the reports helpful in planning programs in line with prospective employ­
ment opportunities.
Two types of reports are issued, in addition to the Occupational Outlook Handbook:
O ccupational outlook bulletins describing the long-run outlook for employment in each occupa­
tion and giving information on earnings, working conditions, and the training required.
S p ecia l repo rts issued from time to time on such subjects as the general employment outlook,
trends in the various States, and occupational mobility.
These reports are issued as bulletins of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Most of them may be
purchased from the Superintendent of Documents, Washington 25, D. C., at the prices listed with a
25-percent discount on 100 copies or more. Those reports which are listed as free may be obtained di­
rectly from the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Washington 25, D. C.,
as long as the supply lasts.
Occupational Outlook Handbook
Employment information on major occupations for use in guidance, Bulletin 998 (1951 revised edition). $3.00. Illus.

Includes brief reports on more than 400 occupations of interest in vocational guidance, including
professions; skilled trades; clerical, sales, and service occupations; and the major types of farming.
Each report describes the employment trends and outlook, the training qualifications required, earn­
ings, and working conditions. Introductory sections summarize the major trends in population and
employment, and in the broad industrial and occupational groups, as background for an understand­
ing of the individual occupations.
The Handbook is designed for use in counseling, in classes or units on occupations, in the train­
ing of counselors, and as a general reference. Its 600 pages are illustrated with 103 photographs and
85 charts.
Occupational Outlook Bulletins

Aviation Occupations, Employment Opportunities in, Part II—Duties, Qualifications, Earn- Price
ings, and Working Conditions
Bulletin 837-2 (1946). Illus____________________________________________________ 30 cents
Foundry Occupations, Employment Outlook in
Bulletin 880 (1946). Illus______________________________________________________ 15 cents
Business Machine Servicemen, Employment Outlook for
Bulletin 892 (1947). Illus______________________________________________________ 15 cents
Machine Shop Occupations, Employment Outlook in
Bulletin 895 (1947). Illus______________________________________________________ 20 cents
Printing Occupations, Employment Outlook in
Bulletin 902 (1947). Illus______________________________________ ________________20 cents



The Plastics Products Industry, Employment Outlook in
Bulletin 929 (1948). Illus__ _____ _______________________________________________ 20 cents
Electric Light and Power Occupations, Employment Outlook in
Bulletin 944 (1948). Illus___________ __________________________________________ 30 cents
Radio and Television Broadcasting Occupations, Employment Outlook in
Bulletin 958 (1949). Illus__ ___________________________________________________ 30 cents
Railroad Occupations, Employment Outlook in
Bulletin 961 (1949). Illus________________ _____________________________________ 30 cents
The Building Trades, Employment Outlook in
Bulletin 967 (1949). Illus______________________________________________________ 50 cents
Engineers, Employment Outlook for
Bulletin 968 (1949). Illus______________________________________________________ 55 cents
Elementary and Secondary School Teachers, Employment Outlook for
Bulletin 972 (1949). Illus_______________ ______________________ ________________40 cents
Petroleum Production and Refining, Employment Outlook in
Bulletin 994 (1950). Illus_______________ __________________________ ____________30 cents
Men’s Tailored Clothing Industry, Employment Outlook in
Bulletin 1010 (1951). Illus___________ _____ ____ _______________ ____ . . . ______ 25 cents
Department Stores, Employment Outlook in
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Accounting, Employment Outlook in
Bulletin 1048 (1951). Illus_________________ ______ __________ ______ _________ (In press)
The Merchant Marine, Employment Outlook in
Bulletin 1054 (1951). Illus____------ -------------------------- ----------- -----------------(In press)
Occupational Outlook Supplements

Effect of Defense Program on Employment Outlook in Engineering
(Supplement to Bulletin 968, Employment Outlook for Engineers) (1951)__ __________ 15 cents
Effect of Defense Program on Employment Situation in Elementary and Secondary School
(Supplement to Bulletin 972, Employment Outlook for Elementary and Secondary School
Teachers) (1951)_____________________________________________________________ 15 cents
Special Reports

Occupational Data for Counselors. A Handbook of Census Information Selected for Use in
Bulletin 817 (1945) (prepared jointly with the Occupational Information and Guidance
Service, U. S. Office of Education)________ __________________________________ 20 cents
Factors Affecting Earnings in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering
Bulletin 881 (1946)_____ ___________________ ______- ___________ _____ __________ 10 cents
Occupational Outlook Information Series (By States)
VA Pamphlet 7-2 (1947) (When ordering, specify State or States desired)___ ___(each) 10 cents
Employment, Education, and Earnings of American Men of Science
Bulletin 1027 (1951)___________________________________________________________ 45 cents
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Elementary and Secondary School Principalships—Chief Advancement Opportunity for Public
School Teachers (1951)_________________________________________________ _ Free
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Schools, vocational guidance agencies, and others who wish to receive brief summaries of each new
Occupational Outlook report, usually accompanied by a wall chart, may be placed on a mailing list kept
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