How to Become a


The complete career guide to be a Seismologist: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $105,720
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 10.4%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Dependable Daily Workload
    Career Attribute

A seismologist studies the physical aspects of the earth’s crust and tectonic plates.  They collect data on earthquakes and seismic waves that move throughout the earth’s surface.

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What is a Seismologist?

The following responsibilities are common for Seismologists:

  • Studies and interprets seismic data to locate earthquakes and fault lines
  • Uses seismic and geophysical instruments and tools and interprets the data collected
  • Establishes the existence of fault lines and the direction, motion and stress of the earth’s movements before, during and after and earthquake
  • Creates maps and charts indicating the areas of seismic risk to existing proposed construction and development plans

A Day In The Life

Seismologists investigate earthquakes and other activities of the earth’s crust such as tsunamis, fault lines and movement of tectonic plates.

An individuals job duties would vary, depending on the area of expertise.  The role generally involves researching seismic activity by exploring and even producing controlled source seismic data or oil and petroleum companies on a consultant basis.  However, other may be involved in providing environmental consultancy, like investigating land fills, and providing potential earthquake information to the public and government.

Typical Work Schedule

This position is a full-time, 40-hour work week position typically spent in an office or laboratory, but may also have to travel to seismic events around the world.

Projected Job Growth

This particular career is expected to grow exponentially over the next decade.  Mainly, this field is vital in the fossil fuel industry.

Typical Employers

Most of these individuals are employed as consultants for various petroleum and oil companies.  While others are employed with environmental and government agencies.

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How To Become a Seismologist

A student’s choice of their undergraduate major should focus on interests within that field.  For example, a bachelor’s degree in geography, geology, physics, mathematics or geophysics would be ideal.  Coursework in geology, mathematics and computer sciences is essential.  The computer and its programs are the primary tools for this career, so a high level of computer competency is required.  Rewarding careers are available for those holding a bachelor’s degree, especially in operational and field seismology as well as in the petroleum industry.

Seismologist Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range




High Range


National Hourly Wage

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High Range


How do Seismologist salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Seismologist's can make an average annual salary of $105,720, or $51 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $62,030 or $30 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #55 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming a Seismologist. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Seismologists

  • 9.4%   Doctorate
  • 36.8%   Masters
  • 47.1%   Bachelors
  • 2.3%   Associates
  • 4.1%   College
  • 0%   High School
  • 0.3%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Seismologist job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 3,800 jobs for a total of 40,200 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 10.4% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #176 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally

What Companies Employ The Most Seismologists

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Oil and gas extraction 8,000 1,000 1%
Engineering services 6,200 800 1%
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 5,300 1,500 2%

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