Travel to volcanoes in search of scientific data.

Quick Stats

Salary Range
$44,000 – $161,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Volcanologists do?

A Volcanologist is a Geologist who studies volcanoes and volcanic activity. In ancient societies around the world, it was common practice to make human sacrifices to the gods, as people believed that doing so would prevent volcanoes near villages from erupting. Today, humanity knows better: No matter how angry they make their gods, people don’t make volcanoes blow their lids; science does. A Volcanologist spends his or her days proving it.

As a Volcanologist, you’re employed by governments, universities, and research institutes to visit active and dormant volcanoes around the world. Your goal is to collect physical samples and data, which you analyze in labs. By studying volcanic rock, ash, and debris — as well as data about seismic activity, atmospheric gases, and geological composition — you set out to understand why and how volcanoes erupt, and to predict when and where they’ll erupt so you can protect populations that live near them.

Beyond that, what you do depends on what type of Volcanologist you are. If you’re a Physical Volcanologist, for instance, you study the eruption process and erupted deposits, which can help you learn volcanoes’ histories and predict their future behaviors. If you’re a Petrologist, on the other hand, you study the rocks and minerals volcanoes emit, which can help you understand more about the pressure and temperature of magma chambers in the earth’s crust.

If you’re a Geodist, meanwhile, you study the physical changes that volcanoes go through during eruptions. Finally, if you’re a Geochemist, you’re interested in volcanoes’ gaseous emissions, which impact climate change and are the best predictors of future eruptions.

Should I be a Volcanologist?

You should have a bachelor's degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.
  • Trustworthy: You are known for your personal integrity and honesty.
  • Logical Thinker: You take a step-by-step approach to analyze information and solve problems.

  • How to become a Volcanologist

    Most Volcanologists have a Bachelor's degree. Chart?chd=s:aba9ta&chl=|certificate+%281%25%29||bachelor%27s+%2857%25%29|master%27s+%2842%25%29|&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,0,57
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