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What is a seismologist?

A seismologist studying earthquake damage
© United States Geological Survey

A seismologist studies earthquakes and their waves to figure out the Earth's structure and composition.

If I want to study or have a career in seismology, what classes should I take in middle or high school?

Take as many Earth science, biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics and computer science courses as you can. English is also important since scientists need to write clearly and communicate their findings to others on a regular basis. You might also find it helpful to take a course in public speaking. Find out what after-school organizations your school has that can help you with a career as a seismologist, such as Science Clubs. Also consider doing a seismology-focused project for your local science fair and look for summer geoscience experiences at near-by colleges and universities.

At the university level, what courses should I take?

In addition to a bachelor's degree, most jobs in the seismology field require a graduate degree. A doctoral degree is important for a seismologist who hopes for more advanced research positions.

What are the educational requirements for becoming a professional seismologist?

In addition to a bachelor's degree, most jobs in the seismology field require a graduate degree. As in any profession, the best jobs go to the most qualified applicants. Students contemplating a professional career in the seismology should consider getting an advanced degree. A Ph.D. is needed for advancement in college teaching and in most high-level research positions.

Where do seismologists work?

Jobs in seismology are found in institutions of higher learning, oil companies, and state and federal government agencies. College and university seismologists generally work as instructors and/or researchers. Seismologists who work for state or federal agencies or oil companies usually work with collecting and interpreting seismic data to find natural resources such as oil or water or plan for construction projects.

Where can I find more information on seismology?