Department of Geology Newsletter No. 10, July 1961
Editors: Samuel P. Ellison, Jr. and Stephen E. Clabaugh
The Coming Shortage of Geologists
Most geologists are employed to search the earth for useful mineral products. The demand for raw materials is increasing throughout the world in response to industrialization of un developed countries and phenomenal population growth. Therefore the demand for geologists should also increase steadily, but the opposite trend has been conspicuous in the United States for four years.
There are several reasons for the drastically sagging demand for graduating geologists, and there will undoubtedly be serious conse quences to be faced. Among the reasons for the decline of new jobs in geology, two are obvious. One is the world oversupply of petroleum, which has led to restriction of do mestic production. (And it is Amer ican oil companies who hire more geologists than any other business in the world.) A second reason for the decline is simple oversupply of geologists, resulting from the post- World War II shortage and the rapid replenishment of the profes sion through college training, paid for in large part by federal aid to veterans. The temporary glut of geologists became apparent to the oil industry as it entered the pro longed recession following the Suez crisis boom of selling American oil to Europe, and a gloomy picture of the future of geology was presented on every side to college freshmen. Simultaneously Sputnik painted a
glowing picture of the future of
space exploration, nuclear physics, and electronics
For four years bright college students have turned away from geology. In 1958 almost no young scientists began their training in geology, therefore in 1962 almost none will grad uate with Bachelors degrees. Nor in 1963, 1964, and 1965.
All the while, the demand for geologists with advanced de grees has been reasonably firm, and suddenly it is booming. No University of Texas-trained geologist with the Master's or Ph.D. degree failed to find professional work within a reason
Graph showing trends in U.S. enrollment of geology geophysics students, 1956—61
able length of time, even at the lowest ebb of geologic employ ment, and by the spring of 1961, every candidate for an ad vanced geology degree here had several offers of employment in industry, colleges, and government surveys.
The pendulum has swung too far. As shown dramatically on the accompanying graph from GeoTimes, the number of grad-
uating seniors majoring in geology will soon fall below the number working on either Master's or Doc tor's degrees. At UT this situation will be true next fall. Yet only a fraction of the graduating seniors will qualify for graduate school. Be ginning next year, there will be a conspicuous national shortage of graduate students in geology, and the number receiving post-graduate degrees will decline for at least 5 to 8 years, simply because it takes that long to train a man from fresh man to MA and Ph.D. levels. We are faced with a declining number of well trained geologists emerging from colleges and universities for nearly a decade. And during the next decade a surprising number of American geologists will reach retirement age. Prior to 1930 only a few geologists were trained at Texas, but between 1930 and 1940, nearly 300 gradu ated here, and before 1971 at least that many UT geologists will retire from industry. During the next 5 years we are not likely to graduate half enough UT geologists to re-
place retiring UT geologists!
The Master's degree is now the minimum training for a ge ologist entering professional work in many American indus tries and most government positions. If he is to teach or to compete for foreign employment at a high level, an American geologist should have a Ph.D. degree, because this is the level of new geology graduates from most universities in Western Europe. We hope that, as the demand for geologists now begins to rise, employers will refrain from hiring a man who is in