A geochemist studies the role of chemistry within the composition and development of the earth by analysing samples of soil, rock and other natural materials.

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Geochemists are typically employed by research institutions, consultancy agencies or oil companies. Their research provides information for the composition of specific geological areas. They provide advice and support to clients such as energy companies who require geophysical information for the development of processes for energy production.

Many projects are cross-disciplinary, requiring knowledge of various scientific areas including geochemistry, hydrology, toxicology or plant ecology.

Work activities

  • Planning and conducting geochemical surveys and fieldwork.
  • Collecting and analysing samples of natural materials to determine information about the earth’s history and developments in specific areas.
  • Working with specialised equipment such as mass spectrometers and electron microprobes.
  • Interpreting results of surveys and test to produce reports.
  • Liaising with engineers, managers and other geologists.

Work conditions

Travel: features regularly when fieldwork or visiting sites is necessary.
Working hours: can be long, particularly around certain projects.
Location: opportunities exist internationally in cities and more remote areas.

Entry requirements

At least a primary degree in a related subject, such as geology, physical/environmental chemistry, or chemical/mineral engineering alongside experience in the field is necessary. A postgraduate qualification could aid career progress, but cannot guarantee it.

There are currently no taught postgraduate courses in geochemistry offered by Irish/Northern Irish institutions. Those wishing to pursue a postgraduate qualification in the field undertake study in the UK/USA.

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