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Scientists from all walks of life can make life better on Earth

Michael McGaw’s southern Louisiana hometown is sinking due to subsidence and local sea level rise, which is why he trained to become an engineering technician at APTIM. Techs like McGaw gather field data that is essential to figuring out how to get more sediment to the coastal wetlands to improve flood protections and ecosystem health.

Geoscientists study the physical aspects of the Earth. Most split their time between working in offices and laboratories, and working outdoors. Doing research and investigations outdoors is commonly called fieldwork and can require irregular working hours and extensive travel to remote locations.

Geoscientists typically need a bachelor’s degree for entry-level jobs. For some positions, employers may prefer to hire candidates who have a master’s degree.

Native Louisianan Michael McGaw works as an engineering technician for APTIM in the Coastal Ports and Marines Division. APTIM is a global industry leader committed to accelerating the transition towards a clean and efficient energy economy in order to build a sustainable future for our communities and the natural world. “When I was given the opportunity to work in this environment, it was something I felt like I couldn’t say no to,” says McGaw, “I would do whatever I can to help preserve it.” Engineering technicians such as McGaw operate all the essential equipment required to collect field data that will ultimately help improve flood protection for coastal Louisiana.

Maricel Beltrán-Burgos works as a research associate at The Water Institute of the Gulf. The Water Institute is an independent, non-profit, applied research institutes that advances science and develops integrated methods to solve complex environmental and societal challenges. “Science is never a one-person job,” says Beltrán-Burgos. “ You have to work with a lot of people… It’s teamwork.” Research associates like Beltrán-Burgos organize, process, and analyze data that is obtained in the field, and then present their data to clients in order to inform their decision-making.

In 2020, the median pay for geoscientists was $93,580 per year, or $44.99 per hour. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of geoscientists is projected to grow 7% from 2020 to 2030, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 3,100 openings for geoscientists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of these openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

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