Job Description:

Seismologists study shock waves created by earthquakes and volcanic activity. They also work in oil, gas and minerals exploration.

Job Category:
Metals & Mining

What you will do:

In your day-to-day tasks you may:

  • monitor and analyse data from seismic sensors around the world
  • map seismic regions and fault lines in the Earth’s surface
  • develop early warning systems for earthquake zones
  • investigate target sites for new seismic stations
  • search for oil and gas deposits under land and sea
  • produce survey reports for mining and energy companies
  • attend conferences and publish research findings
  • take students on field trips to study earthquake and volcano hot spots
  • teach students, or train professionals in related fields like people working in disaster risk reduction (teamwork skills)


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of geography
  • science skills
  • maths knowledge
  • knowledge of physics
  • to have a thorough understanding of computer systems and applications

As well as:

  • analytical thinking skills
  • ambition/drive
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • excellent written communication skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • organisational skills
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a seismologist, you will typically need to pursue higher education and obtain a bachelor’s degree and often a master’s or doctoral degree in geophysics, geology, or a related field. While there are no specific subject requirements for becoming a seismologist, having a strong foundation in certain subjects can be beneficial for your future academic and career path. Here are some subjects that may be helpful:

  1. Mathematics: A strong background in mathematics is essential for understanding and conducting complex scientific calculations involved in seismology. Consider taking advanced math courses.
  2. Physics: Physics is directly related to the principles of seismology. It helps you understand the behavior of seismic waves and their interactions with Earth’s structures.
  3. Geography: Geography can provide a foundation in Earth sciences and geological processes, which are relevant to seismology.
  4. Geology: If available, geology coursework can be highly relevant for understanding Earth’s composition and geological features.
  5. Environmental Science: This subject can help you gain insights into Earth’s systems, including how they relate to seismic events and environmental impacts.
  6. Computer Science or IT: Proficiency in computer skills is valuable, as seismologists often use specialized software for data analysis and modeling.
  7. Biology: Though not directly related to seismology, a broad understanding of science can be useful when working in a scientific field.
  8. English or Communication Skills: Effective communication skills are essential for documenting research findings, writing reports, and presenting scientific information.

Post School

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • working towards this role

You can do a degree or postgraduate qualification in:

  • geology
  • geography
  • Earth science
  • geophysics
  • environmental science
  • computer science

Many employers will expect you to have, or be working towards, a PhD in a relevant subject.

You could start as a PhD research assistant, for example in a university Earth sciences or geophysics engineering department. With further training and experience you could become a seismologist.

Working Hours and Environment:

You could work at a research facility, at a university or in a laboratory.

Your working environment may be physically active and you may spend nights away from home.

You may need to wear safety clothing and use safety equipment.

Career Path & Progression:

You could become a project co-ordinator or manager with a seismic research organisation, university or energy company.

In a university post, once you’ve got experience and published original research, you could become a senior research fellow or professor.