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Author Topic: Is a mid-life crisis driven graduate degree in geology a wise career move?  (Read 6130 times)

Offline Geoquest

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Hi all,

I'm new to the board and just wanted to introduce myself. I'm a 40 year old resident of the great state of Texas with an Accounting degree. I have never enjoyed the world of corporate business and I have decided to pursue my interest in the sciences. Considering I have 3 kids, a wife and a house I'm not sure if my pursuit of a graduate degree in Geology will end up being feasible but I'm already a year in taking pre-requisites to prepare myself to attend UT Dallas. With that in mind, any words of encouragement, advice, or if anyone knows someone who might be interested in an online mentor relationship please send them my way.

In any event, hi all! I hope to be a valuable contributor to the forum and look forward to any future correspondence I may have with y'all!
« Last Edit: 22/07/2016 23:20:39 by chris »


 

Offline frethack

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MId-life crisis and Geology
« Reply #1 on: 13/04/2011 17:46:24 »
Welcome to the forum!

I dont have three kids, but I am married, thirty-six, and finishing up my undergrad in geology at UT.  Ill be heading off to grad school next year at the spry young age of thirty-seven.

Know that as a geoscience grad student, your tuition should be completely covered by the university, youll receive a (very) modest stipend (usually around 2K a month before taxes) with at least some form of medical insurance package, and that you can add on to that money through fellowships or even graduate loans if necessary.  Its not impossible, but it is difficult.  As a reward for patience, if you enter a lucrative field such as petroleum geology, a Masters should put you near or above the 100K range...if you can survive two years of poverty.

Ive chosen to skip the lucrative fields and to take a vow of poverty.  Maybe I can start an order of geologist monks.

JimBob and Bass, though they may have suffered extensive permineralization  ;D, are by far the most knowledgeable geologists on the forum.  They also happen to be all around great people, so please ask any questions you like and you are very likely to get an informed answer.
 

Offline Geoquest

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MId-life crisis and Geology
« Reply #2 on: 14/04/2011 15:21:05 »
In response to frethack:

You mentioned you were attending UT. I'm assuming you're referring to Austin right?

As far as oil/gas, I have several clients that are oil/gas geologists and every one of them has overall been pretty negative about the field. One went so far as to emphatically tell me not to do it. Although there is a lot of money to be made they all claim that it is such an unstable area of geology that it makes it tough to get by.  ??? Because of me needing stability I'd be willing to not make as much and thus I'm leaning towards hydrology. As the years go by our most precious resource is getting harder and harder to come by. One would think this would raise the prospects of hydrologists but attempting to read the future in the past hasn't worked out very well for me.  :)

My bachelor is in accounting so I am having to go back and essentially start over with a slew of math/science classes to get accepted into a grad program for geology. I'm close to half way there and should be ready for grad school with any luck Fall '12.

I was speaking to a professor recently and he briefly mentioned having the school pay for my grad work also. My interpretation was that he was describing either being a TA or GA. Would you be willing to provide some more information about how one goes about having the school pay for the education and how you then receive a stipend on top of it. This would be a huge relief to know that I would not be on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars upon graduation.

 

Offline frethack

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MId-life crisis and Geology
« Reply #3 on: 14/04/2011 19:01:23 »
You mentioned you were attending UT. I'm assuming you're referring to Austin right?

Yep...I bleed burnt orange.

As far as oil/gas, I have several clients that are oil/gas geologists and every one of them has overall been pretty negative about the field. One went so far as to emphatically tell me not to do it. Although there is a lot of money to be made they all claim that it is such an unstable area of geology that it makes it tough to get by.  ??? Because of me needing stability I'd be willing to not make as much and thus I'm leaning towards hydrology. As the years go by our most precious resource is getting harder and harder to come by. One would think this would raise the prospects of hydrologists but attempting to read the future in the past hasn't worked out very well for me.  :)

Hydrology is growing pretty quickly and is a great field to get into right now.  Oil is subject to boom/bust periods, and that is probably what your friends are referring to.  Money is great now, but during a bust, geologists become a dime a dozen.

I was speaking to a professor recently and he briefly mentioned having the school pay for my grad work also. My interpretation was that he was describing either being a TA or GA. Would you be willing to provide some more information about how one goes about having the school pay for the education and how you then receive a stipend on top of it. This would be a huge relief to know that I would not be on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars upon graduation.

Tuition remission, a stipend, and insurance should all be part of the offer from your university.  They will usually require you to TA or RA, but hey...thats part of grad school.  UT has a *lot* of money and all students receive full tuition remission and a competitive stipend.  You shouldnt have to worry too much about it.  I would contact a few grad students from UTA and make sure that this is the case at their campus.
 

Offline Geoquest

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MId-life crisis and Geology
« Reply #4 on: 15/04/2011 04:41:18 »
Thanks for the info Fret  ;)

 

Offline Bass

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MId-life crisis and Geology
« Reply #5 on: 15/04/2011 06:19:31 »
JimBob and Bass, though they may have suffered extensive permineralization  ;D...

Ahhh,so that's what the doctor meant when he said I had hardening of the arteries... ::)

Similar to the oil business, mining and exploration tends to boom and bust cycles.  And like oil, mining companies can't hire enough geologists right now.  Conversely- in lean times, it's tough to keep a job.

Hydrology, environmental geology, engineering geology, and geologic hazards are all fields that are in demand and will provide more stable industry positions. 

With that being said, find a field that you love.  For me personally, that's trying to understand the complexities of hard rocks (igneous and metamorphic).  JimBob, on the other hand, is an old softie. 

Welcome to the forum!
 

Offline Geoquest

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MId-life crisis and Geology
« Reply #6 on: 15/04/2011 23:33:02 »
Similar to the oil business, mining and exploration tends to boom and bust cycles.

This is actually a source of confusion for me. The demand for oil certainly isn't going down. I'll take a stab at it and say that when the price of oil drops companies are less willing to explore for new sources. Does that explain the lay offs in "lean times?"

With that being said, find a field that you love. 

What I truly love is the History of the Earth and how it formed. I don't think there are many opportunities available for those types though.
Thanks for the welcome Bass!


 

Offline JimBob

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MId-life crisis and Geology
« Reply #7 on: 16/04/2011 23:59:14 »
Welcome!

I cannot tel you how happy I am to see your interest in the oil business. You have a great future - working a couple of years as a geologist, then going into management

EVERY geology deal with the history of the earth - in at lease one area of the earth - the one they are currently working on.

I can only encourage you. My biggest obstacle in all my working carrier in the oil business has been the bean counters in management that have no concept of what finding oil & gas is all about. Arbitrary limits on projects, unrealistic demands and expectations - you name the problem, ALL occur from an uneducated management. 

ALL major companies are hampered by this as are most medium to smaller oil companies. No matter who you begin work for, plan on moving to another in mid-management at your earliest opportunity.

If you are good, there is always a job. And if you love what you are doing you can always find a way of making a buck. Yes, there are up and downs in the business. Those who have access to small amounts of ventrue capital can always survive.

JUMP IN, THE WATER'S FINE!


 
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Offline LauraG

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Re: MId-life crisis and Geology
« Reply #8 on: 22/07/2016 17:20:32 »
Hi All,

I am new to this forum and my post is mainly directed to the original poster of this thread, Geoquest. Much like you were at the time of your posting, I am now 40 years old and looking to go back to school to pursue my life's dream of being a geologist. I have a BA in Literature from UTD and somehow ended up in finance doing sales tax compliance in the corporate world. In short, I am completely miserable in my professional life and I am really hoping to find a way to make this dream a reality. I am currently living in the north Houston area and not sure yet exactly where I will pursue my graduate work, but I am wondering how everything worked out for you. Were you able to find tuition remission, a stipend, and insurance as discussed in this thread? How was the school experience overall as an older student? Are you now employed as a geologist? Sorry for so many questions. I definitely welcome any advice that anyone can offer. And I look forward to getting to know all of you in this community. Thanks!
 

Offline chris

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Good luck, Laura. As they say, do a job you love and you'll never do a day's work in your life!
 

Offline JimBob

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There is always geologic work - safe work (U.S.G.S., etc.) or guts (free-lance consulting)  I just got fed up with know-nothing clients who want me to explain why I didn't com up with a producing well (Odds 1-in-27 to make an economic well) Find a good services rendered contract that guarantees nothing except normal professional services.
 
Use my profile for a personal message. Don't check email often.
 

Offline LauraG

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Thank you, Chris for the kind words and JimBob, thank you for the great advice. Not only am I seeing that the geologic work is plentiful but I imagine it is much more interesting than taxes. My love of rocks first began as I was growing up and doing lots of hiking in the desert in Arizona but it wasn't until I took an Oceanography class in my undergraduate years that I was instilled with a fascination for plate tectonics and volcanoes. In fact I just recently read a great little book that I recommend titled "Out of the Crater - Chronicles of a Volcanologist" by Richard V. Fisher. My main concern though, is going back to school as an older student at the age of 40. But, from everything I have been reading, it seems that I am likely to be surrounded in my classes by many who are older than I am. As they say, better late than never.
 

Offline Bass

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 My nephew went back to pick up his undergraduate degree in geology a couple of years ago at age 40. He was successful in the finance industry, but hated his job. He'll graduate next year with a degree in Geology and in GIS. He's survived on grants, scholarships and student loans. I've been trying to mentor him and have even been able to find him a couple of summer jobs to help keep him afloat. Really proud of him for his efforts!
My sister tells me "You've ruint him!" - but he has a real knack for geology and absolutely loves what he's doing now. He's looking at Grad programs and is inclined towards working in the oil industry (which just goes to show what little influence I've had). Actually, his timing may be perfect- if oil rebounds in a couple of years he'll get plenty of job offers.
I love volcanology, and considered working in that field, but was lured away by the siren song of mineral exploration. My advice- find what interests you most, love your work, and you'll be successful!
Welcome to the Forum!!!
 
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