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Become a Volcanologists

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Volcanology is the study of volcanoes and how they affect the environment. Many volcanologists believe they have the best jobs in the world. They have the exciting chance to study active volcanoes in beautiful and often exotic places. The volcanologist's work advances science, but also has direct importance to the lives of people who live near volcanoes. Volcanologists play a critical role in warning people when an eruption is imminent to help evacuate near-by towns. In the United States many volcanologists work for the U.S. Geological Survey or as professors at a university. To become a volcanologist a background in a variety of sciences is important to be able to study the land around a volcano, but geology courses are the most important.

Let's take a deeper look into what types of things a person should be looking for at the different stages of their education that will lead to become a volcanologist.

High School

Developing your language skills is a major step towards becoming a volcanologist. Writing reports, giving talks and communicating clearly on some advanced and tricky subjects are eventually going to be a major part of your volcanology career. Preparing early can help you to better be prepared for this type of work when the time arises.

Also, students interested in majoring in geological sciences should include algebra, geometry, trigonometry, geography, physics, chemistry and either biology or Earth science into their high school curriculum. If a general geology class is offered, along with a lab, it is also highly recommended that an individual take this as part of their high school education.

Get a Bachelor's Degree

Most volcanology careers require graduate degrees, but students must first earn undergraduate degrees in related fields, such as geology or geoscience. Bachelor's degree programs in geology may include courses such as igneous and metamorphic rocks, earth processes, sedimentary rocks, geological history, geophysics, and geochemistry.

Acquire Field Experience

Volcanologists and geologists need field experience to enhance their knowledge. Some bachelor's programs require students to participate in field projects, such as documenting geological features or mapping geological formations. Universities may also have geology research projects that students can participate in as interns. Volcanoes are only located in certain places, so students interested in gaining research experience with volcanoes may have to travel to these locations.

Earn a Graduate Degree

Running and organizing research projects requires individuals to obtain a graduate degree. In some cases, master's degrees in geology with concentrations in volcanology will suffice. However, individuals who hold doctoral degrees are often preferred. Most present volcanologists have gone on to get their degrees through a graduate program of some kind, but not all believe that it is absolutely necessary to get your Ph.D. Usually, students enroll in geology Ph.D. programs and then declare their focus in volcanology. Graduate students then choose coursework that relates to volcanoes, such as lava flows, disaster management, or explosive volcanism. Students must complete original research projects and write a dissertation to complete the program. Not all geology programs have research options in volcanology, so care should be taken when choosing a school.

Look into Licensing Requirements

According to the BLS, since volcanologists often advise the public on whether volcanoes will erupt, they may be required to be licensed. License eligibility requirements may include possessing a certain level of education and work experience. License applicants may also have to pass written tests to earn licenses. Not all states require volcanologists to be licensed, so some professionals choose to earn certifications to prove their training and expertise.

Continue to Learn

Employers look for individuals who are well informed in the field and possess a variety of skills needed to perform the job. After completing a Ph.D., individuals may pursue post-doctoral training to learn new skills in volcanology that were not emphasized in their graduate program, or delve further into topics related to their dissertation. No matter what route an individual takes after completing a Ph.D., it is also important to stay up to date on volcanology research published in journals.