Career Crisis in Geophysics

  • #1
Hi all. This is my first post in the physics forum! My name is Raymond.
I have recently graduated with a double major in Physics and Geophysics in Canada.

My initial goal was to pursue Exploration Geophysics/Hydrology in grad school ( University of Toronto/UBC/University of Calgary) and go to industry in Canada.

However after the pandemic hit, from what I saw and heard from my upper year friends who worked in the field, many job listings were gone quickly (even now that the pandemic is sort of under control), and pay cuts ensued. This worries me since it would create a surplus in qualified geophysicists and by the time i graduate, I wouldn't have a good chance of finding a well paying job in Canada. A major global pandemic wasn't something I planned for when I started my degree in 2017.

Now I'm in a dilemma. I don't know if I should pursue geophysics further or use my physics major and apply to physics grad school in the future.
I have a high undergrad gpa (3.91) and 1.5 years of research experience so I am still competitive for physics and can switch.

On the other hand, I have heard that the majority of the unemployment in the geosciences are people with geology degrees and not geophysics, but I can't fully trust those anecdotes either.

I was hoping if someone in the field of geophysics (in Canada) can explain to me how the job market in geophysics works or which areas in geophysics have better prospects (in North America) and what a recent PhD graduate can expect for their salary.

As for now, I am enrolled in a one year masters program in exploration geophysics in Canada, so I have the flexibility to change plans afterwards.

I am looking forward to hear your responses.
Thanks.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Ranger Mike
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hello ray
how much student debt do you now have
what is your goal in life?
how are you going to reach that goal after paying back your debt?
now you say yo u have graduated with a degree (double) what job offers have you had?
just asking so i may help you..
or is this wrong?
 
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  • #3
hello ray
how much student debt do you now have
what is your goal in life?
how are you going to reach that goal after paying back your debt?
now you say yo u have graduated with a degree (double) what job offers have you had?
just asking so i may help you..
or is this wrong?
I don't have a job offer yet because i went straight into my masters program.
As for student debt, i fortunately have none! (I am Canadian so it didn't take a lot to pay it off with part time work)
My main goal in life is to live comfortably lol and have a family. Canada is increasingly becoming unaffordable so my salary goal would be somewhere in the range of 100k-150k after a decade of industry experience.
 
  • #4
Ranger Mike
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very possible. Only 10% of all USA citizens are in $100,000 territory , only 5% are over $200,000.
Ave. annual income is about $ 55,000 depending on location.
you do not need another degree to obtain this financial goal. Move to USA and get a job! we have more jobs than people!

My opinion and only for your ref.-
Marriage is for men who want children. Absolutely no reason to marry other than having offspring. Get Arron Clary's book on Return on Investment chasing women, The Book of Numbers, goes in detail about marriage today, 2021. sad facts - 55% marriage end in divorce within 5 years, only 6 men in 1000 now marry. 80% of the time women file for divorce and in 95% of time you lose half of what you have! courts are stacked in favor of women. not like the 1960s Leave it to Beaver time we grew up thinking of it...
dont let me bum you out..but you are advised.
 
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  • #5
Choppy
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One of the advantages of geophysics over other branches of physics is that it leads directly into a professional field, i.e. there are directly related jobs outside of academia in it. With many other branches, you have to figure out how to transition from the academic world, to the commercial one.

I'm not an expert in geophysics, but a lot of the work is directly tied to the petroleum industry and exploration in particular. There's a lot of uncertainty in that sector right now, I think. In order to reach a goal of net zero CO2 emissions by 2050, the IEA has proposed a halt on approval of any new oil and gas fields, for example, and so I suspect there may not be as much investment in the coming decades as there has been in the past in this sector. The other big player is the mining industry, but again, I think a major sector there is coal, which is again, uncertain for similar reasons.

I've heard a lot about a shift in western Canada toward lithium and other critical mineral exploration and mining. See this article, for example. So if you want to stay in geophysics, it would seem like a good idea to develop a skill set related to this industry. If you're working on an MSc in the field, I'm sure this is stuff you already know, though.

You might also look into medical physics, if that might be a field that interests you.
 
  • #6
very possible. Only 10% of all USA citizens are in $100,000 territory , only 5% are over $200,000.
Ave. annual income is about $ 55,000 depending on location.
you do not need another degree to obtain this financial goal. Move to USA and get a job! we have more jobs than people!

My opinion and only for your ref.-
Marriage is for men who want children. Absolutely no reason to marry other than having offspring. Get Arron Clary's book on Return on Investment chasing women, The Book of Numbers, goes in detail about marriage today, 2021. sad facts - 55% marriage end in divorce within 5 years, only 6 men in 1000 now marry. 80% of the time women file for divorce and in 95% of time you lose half of what you have! courts are stacked in favor of women. not like the 1960s Leave it to Beaver time we grew up thinking of it...
dont let me bum you out..but you are advised.
Having a family means having a wife AND kids so you are absolutely right. (Am redpilled)
 
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  • #7
One of the advantages of geophysics over other branches of physics is that it leads directly into a professional field, i.e. there are directly related jobs outside of academia in it. With many other branches, you have to figure out how to transition from the academic world, to the commercial one.

I'm not an expert in geophysics, but a lot of the work is directly tied to the petroleum industry and exploration in particular. There's a lot of uncertainty in that sector right now, I think. In order to reach a goal of net zero CO2 emissions by 2050, the IEA has proposed a halt on approval of any new oil and gas fields, for example, and so I suspect there may not be as much investment in the coming decades as there has been in the past in this sector. The other big player is the mining industry, but again, I think a major sector there is coal, which is again, uncertain for similar reasons.

I've heard a lot about a shift in western Canada toward lithium and other critical mineral exploration and mining. See this article, for example. So if you want to stay in geophysics, it would seem like a good idea to develop a skill set related to this industry. If you're working on an MSc in the field, I'm sure this is stuff you already know, though.

You might also look into medical physics, if that might be a field that interests you.
Thanks for your reply.
at the moment, a career in geophysics seems kinda risky with the more strict environmental policies that are being put forward. What are the advantages of medical physics over geophysics in canada in your opinion? I have kind of heard about the field but in a generic way.
 
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  • #8
Ranger Mike
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good man! no doubt in my mind you will be huge success!
 
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  • #9
Vanadium 50
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only 6 men in 1000 now marry
Are you sure? Googlepedia says there are 2.5M weddings per year. That's 1.25M men out of 101M. If it's only 0.6% of men, or 0.6M, and half the marriages end in divorce, it means that the same 300,000 men marry several times a year.
 
  • #10
Are you sure? Googlepedia says there are 2.5M weddings per year. That's 1.25M men out of 101M. If it's only 0.6% of men, or 0.6M, and half the marriages end in divorce, it means that the same 300,000 men marry several times a year.
Those claims aside, what would be your advice to someone in my position? (Marriage is not an imminent problem LOL.)
 
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  • #11
Any thoughts or recommendations?
I did my own research for those pathways however I was wondering what people here who currently work in the field are experiencing.
 
  • #12
Choppy
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Thanks for your reply.
at the moment, a career in geophysics seems kinda risky with the more strict environmental policies that Liberals are putting forward. What are the advantages of medical physics over geophysics in canada in your opinion? I have kind of heard about the field but in a generic way.
https://www.physicsforums.com/insights/become-medical-physicist-3653-easy-steps/

The majority of medical physics clinical demand is related to cancer rates and while funding is of course dependent on provincial healthcare budgets, there is a lot of stability in the field. You don't get the big payouts with the "booms" when the petroleum industry is hot, but you don't have to survive through the "bust" troughs in the cycle either.

There's also a certain fulfilment in knowing that your work has a direct impact on the care of people.

My impression is that geophysics can involve a lot of outdoor work in remote locations. For some people this is a major attraction I think. In medical physics you're more or less confined to work in radiation therapy centers, which are generally located in large cities, and often underground.

In my experience there's a lot of freedom to explore the kinds of problems you're interested in from a research point of view, but because clinical responsibilities can eat up the vast majority of your time, a lot of research happens after hours. And this can be a struggle when you've got other responsibilities at home.
 
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  • #13
George Jones
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In medical physics you're more or less confined to work in radiation therapy centers, which are generally located in large cities, and often underground.

In my experience there's a lot of freedom to explore the kinds of problems you're interested in from a research point of view, but because clinical responsibilities can eat up the vast majority of your time, a lot of research happens after hours. And this can be a struggle when you've got other responsibilities at home.
This. There are a couple of medical physicists at the hospital in my city. If they had the time, they would like to work as adjuncts supervising undergad/M.Sc projects at the university here, but they don't have the time.
 
  • #14
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The other big player is the mining industry, but again, I think a major sector there is coal, which is again, uncertain for similar reasons.

I've heard a lot about a shift in western Canada toward lithium and other critical mineral exploration and mining. See this article, for example. So if you want to stay in geophysics, it would seem like a good idea to develop a skill set related to this industry. o look into medical physics, if that might be a field that interests you.
In Canada the other big mining fields are gold and nickel.

You could also look into environmental remediation work.
 

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