This Currents demonstrates some of the issues that arise when trying to quantify the global geoscience workforce. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics is very transparent in their labor counts by industry and occupation, which allows for AGI to prepare a realistic estimation of the size of the geoscience workforce in the U.S. Most other countries either do not provide the detail or transparency comparable to the U.S., leading to both data availability and definitional problems. Most countries provide data in a highly aggregated form by industry, and only three industries where ge
The graph shows the 2015 median annual salaries for geoscience-related occupations in the United States as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The colors represent different occupation categories. The columns in the lighter colors show the annual median salary for the broad occupational grouping. The darker colors are specific geoscience occupations within that broad occupational groups. The average median salary for geoscience-related occupations in 2015 was $83,737.
Every two years, the AGI Workforce Program synthesizes and analyzes national data sets that track the changes in the labor workforce to look for changes in the geoscience workforce. To provide an accurate count of the geoscientists working in the United States, AGI’s definition of the geosciences is regularly compared to the labor definitions provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
The participation rate of women in geoscience degree programs has continued its slow decline over the last decade. Undergraduate participation rates have leveled off around the 40% level, while graduate participation rates continue to drift down to about 42%. These are compared to historical highs of 49% for undergraduates in 2004 and 47% for graduate students in 2008. Though participation rates fell at the undergraduate level, because of continued enrollment growth, 1,200 more women were geoscience majors in 2015 than 2014.
Enrollments in U.S. geoscience programs remained robust during the 2014-2015 academic year. Undergraduate enrollments continued its long-term growth trend with a 7% increase, while graduate enrollments remained at. The continued growth in undergraduate majors appears to be driven by recent increases in the number of wholly online geoscience degree programs. Those programs reported nearly 5000 majors in the 2014-2015 academic year. Graduate enrollments were flat for the year. The continued tough job market for academic positions continues to impeded expansion of doctoral enrollments.
AGI’s National Geoscience Student Exit Survey measures the relevant experiences in school and the immediate career plans upon graduation of recent geoscience degree recipients. In spring 2013, AGI distributed this survey nationally and received 428 responses from 71 geoscience departments. This Currents examines the results from questions focused on the survey participants’ plans after graduation of either a graduate degree or entering the geoscience workforce.