Seismologists study shock waves created by earthquakes and volcanic activity. They also work in oil, gas and minerals exploration.
Salary range: £15,000 to £45,000
How to become a seismologist
You can get into this job through:
- a university course
- working towards this role
You can do a degree or postgraduate qualification in:
- Earth science
- environmental science
- computer science
Many employers will expect you to have, or be working towards, a PhD in a relevant subject.
You’ll usually need:
- 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English, maths and science
- 2 or 3 A levels, or equivalent, including a science, for a degree
- a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study
- equivalent entry requirements
- student finance for fees and living costs
- finance for postgraduate courses
- university courses and entry requirements
You could start as a PhD research assistant, for example in a university Earth sciences or geophysics engineering department. With further training and experience you could become a seismologist.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- knowledge of geography
- science skills
- maths knowledge
- analytical thinking skills
- excellent verbal communication skills
- excellent written communication skills
- knowledge of physics
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- to have a thorough understanding of computer systems and applications
What you’ll do
Your day-to-day tasks may include:
- monitoring and analysing data from seismic sensors around the world
- mapping seismic regions and fault lines in the Earth’s surface
- developing early warning systems for earthquake zones
- investigating target sites for new seismic stations
- searching for oil and gas deposits under land and sea
- producing survey reports for mining and energy companies
- attending conferences and publishing research findings
- taking students on field trips to study earthquake and volcano hot spots
You could work at a research facility, at a university or in a laboratory.
Your working environment may be physically active and you may spend nights away from home.
You may need to wear safety clothing and use safety equipment.
Career path and progression
You could become a project co-ordinator or manager with a seismic research organisation, university or energy company.
In a university post, once you’ve got experience and published original research, you could become a senior research fellow or professor.