Ah, spring, that time of year when students freshly burdened with debt and parents newly freed of tuition bills celebrate the graduation of those students into the broader world. And so what careers await?

Well, for the majority of graduates with bachelor’s degrees, they will find the strongest job market since they were in elementary school. Congratulations graduates on being born in the right year!

Earth science majors might feel a bit less enthused. Many had high hopes a couple of years ago of going into the oil and gas business. It wasn’t that long ago that a pulse and a brand new geo-XXX degree would bring a high 5 or low 6 figure salary. When Saudi Arabia decided to try and kill the unconventional oil and gas industry in the U.S. by opening the spigots, they made a lot of trouble for earth science majors (Ah, those silly Saudis–had they more experience in western democracy, they might have simply saved a lot of money by channeling some cash to the anti-fracking groups all across the country.  Instead they are now risking bankrupting their own country.)

These B.S. and B.A. students will find someplace to earn a living, but the PhDs are often more worried as shifting out of field seems like that advanced degree was a waste of time.  As GG has noted before, academics don’t do a great job of advising students on all the options out there.  Well, a short note in Science provides yet another example of a route for geophysics PhDs: consumer product tester. So don’t despair you newly-named doctors of philosophy–just keep an eye out for that unusual application of your skills….


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