The majority of geoscientists in the workforce are within 15 years of retirement age, and data from federal sources, professional societies, and industry indicate a growing imbalance in the age of geoscientists in the profession. Over the past three years, marked shifts in the age demographics for geoscientists in academia and the federal government have been witnessed. Between 2008 and 2010, there was an overall expansion in the ranks of assistant professors (10%) and in professor emerti (6%). Furthermore, there was an overall decrease in the number of full professors with a marked 9% decrease in the number of full professors over 60 years old. The number of associate professors have remained steady over this time period. Retirements are expected to continue to accelerate over the next 10 to 15 years.
Number of geoscience faculty by age and rank (2008-2010). Source: AGI Geoscience Workforce Program.
In the federal government, the percentage of geoscientists 50 years old or older has increased since 2007, with a concurrent contraction of 5% or more for geoscientists in the 40-49 year old age group. Additionally, the majority of geoscience occupations in the federal government show no marked increase in the percentage of early-career geoscientists under the age of 40.
Change in federal geoscience workforce age distribution from 2003 to 2010. Source: AGI Geoscience Workforce Program. Data derived from the Office of Personnel Management fedscope database.