From Bureau of Economic Geology, The University of Texas at Austin (
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American Geological Institute-National Science Foundation Workshop, Identifying Geoscience Human-Resources Data Needs—A Workshop for Educators and Employers, University of Maryland University College, Adelphi, Maryland, April 2001

Current and Future Opportunities in the State Geologic Surveys

Scott W. Tinker
State Geologist of Texas and Director, Bureau of Economic Geology


There are 50 State Geologic Surveys (and Puerto Rico has one as well), each headed by a State Geologist. Although quite diverse in size, charter, budget, and mission, each survey has the basic responsibility of delineating geologic resources and conditions as they impact the economic and environmental well-being of its particular state.

For the purposes of this meeting, each survey was polled to determine the staff composition and future hiring trends of each. Because time was short, only 29 states are included in the survey results, although those 29 represent a good cross section of the country. The 29 states currently employ 710 earth scientists, 49% of which are dominantly in fields related to Economic Resources, 43% dominantly in fields related to Environmental Issues, and 8% dominantly in Outreach, Information Technology and Other fields (Figure 1).

All state surveys are equal-opportunity employers, their hiring practices being governed by the laws of their states. Many State Geologists noted that ethnic minorities and women were not numerically well represented among professional earth scientists. In general, future employment opportunities in the State Surveys are stable to decreasing. Many surveys hope to maintain staff size, several are decreasing their staffs because of State and Federal budget cuts to earth sciences, and only a few are expanding. Data regarding geographic bias and future employment by discipline will also be presented.

Bureau of Economic Geology, The University of Texas at Austin, University Station Box X, Austin, Texas 78713-8924; e-mail: