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Career Opportunities with Your Doctorate in Earth & Energy Sciences

With your PhD in Earth and Energy sciences, there are a number of high-level career opportunities available in the public and private sectors.

Increasing Demand for Our Graduates

The field of earth and energy sciences is going through significant changes. The production of traditional energy sources like oil and gas require increasingly sophisticated methods, while biofuels development and other novel energy sources will require further innovation. These changes call for a pool of highly trained professionals.

Because our doctoral graduates will have extensive, interdisciplinary coursework and research experience in geology, environmental science, physics, and chemistry, they will be more competitive for a larger number of job opportunities than doctoral graduates from more conventional degree programs that offer training in only a single discipline.

Furthermore, because our interdisciplinary program in Earth and Energy Sciences emphasizes translational research, our doctoral graduates will be competitive for industrial, governmental agency, and academic job opportunities.

Public Sector

For PhD-level scientists in the geosciences, the Louisiana Workforce Commission estimates 370 job opportunities will open every year through 2024— and that number climbs to 2,000 job opportunities at the national level. In physics and chemistry, significant salary incentives distinguish Ph.D.-level scientists from M.S.-level scientists.

Forty-three percent of the current geoscience workforce is at or near retirement age.
AGI’s 2014 Workforce Report illustrates that the majority of current researchers at federal agencies are at retirement age or are rapidly approaching it.

State and federal agencies concerned with regulating energy acquisition or with mitigating environmental impacts of energy acquisition will require experts in earth and energy sciences.

Private Sector

In the private sector, our graduates will serve as consultants or as experts in the energy sector as well as in environmental arenas.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that all geoscience jobs will increase by 5% from in the next ten years. In addition, one of the geoscience employment sectors poised for the most growth is consultancy.

According to statistics provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor, employment of physicists is projected to grow 7% in the next 10 years. According to several surveys conducted by the National Science Foundation over the last four decades, the private sector is the largest single employment base of Physics Ph.Ds. Having an interdisciplinary doctorate degree will make our graduates more competitive for private sector jobs. The median starting salary for these jobs is $90,000 for Physics Ph.D. recipients, which is considerably higher than $51,000 for B.S. degree and $60,000 for M.S. degree recipients in the same sector.

The demand for chemists, notably those with advanced degrees, is expected to increase at a 5% rate over the next 10 years. In practice, the demand for recent chemistry graduates will be significantly higher, due to an over-aged workforce: in 1990, 43.5% of all chemists were under the age of 40, compared to only 25.8% in 2015. During the same time frame, the fraction of chemists within the labor force who hold a Ph.D. has increased from 56.3% to 69.6%, indicating a steady shift towards more highly-trained chemists.

In 2015, the median salary for Ph.D. chemists was $105,000, as compared to $77,000 for B.S. chemists and $87,000 for M.S. chemists, reflecting the economic value of a Ph.D. In Louisiana, chemists filled 23,000 direct jobs and generated $2.2B in payroll, making it one of the leading states to offer employment opportunities for chemists.


Graduates of the PhD in Earth and Energy Sciences program who decide to pursue a teaching career have a similarly good employment picture. In 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated about 2,000 academic positions requiring a doctorate will open annually in earth and energy sciences and related fields through 2024.