Earth Science Education

Earth Science Education

Posted by OakRocks on 19th Jun 2024

I previously wrote a blog for those wishing to pursue an education in mining. You can read that hear:

But what if you want an education in Earth Sciences?

Though most careers in the rock and mineral world do not require a college degree, you may want to pursue an education in Earth Sciences. Obviously, there are classes and degrees in Geology, which may be a good basis for your education in rocks and minerals, and there are many degree programs for Environmental Sciences. Earth Science is the study of how the planet works and why. This field delves into the many layers of the Earth and explains how those pieces fit together into a cohesive structure. The interdisciplinary subject not only provides insight into the mechanics of the solid parts of the planet, but also illustrates the inner workings of the liquid and gaseous portions. It addresses questions about the origins and evolution of the atmosphere, various land formations and bodies of water. Earth Sciences is a very large field but it includes Gemology, Paleontology and Mineralogy.

Gemology is the study of natural and artificial gemstone materials. It is a geoscience and a branch of mineralogy.

Mineralogy is the study of minerals, their crystalline and chemical structures, and their properties such as melting points. A mineralogist is a person who studies minerals, which technically include all naturally occurring solid substances. Most mineralogists study minerals of economic value, such as metals like copper, aluminum, and iron ore, as well as gypsum and clays. They determine their physical and chemical properties, how to efficiently retrieve them from ores, and how to process them.

Paleontology is the study of the history of life on Earth as based on fossils. Fossils are the remains of plants, animals, fungi, bacteria, and single- celled living things that have been replaced by rock material or impressions of organisms preserved in rock.

Of these three fields, only paleontology seems to be a field you can major in at college. The other 2 are fields you can study while pursuing some type of Earth Science, Biological Science or Geoscience degree.

If you aren’t worried about it being a 4-year college degree, you can get what’s called a GG (Graduate Gemology) degree at the famous Gemological Institute of America (GIA). Founded by a jeweler who identified a need to professionalize the industry, GIA is a nonprofit institution committed to protecting and educating the public in the field of gems and jewelry. The GIA Graduate Gemologist diploma program delivers a comprehensive gemology education on diamonds and colored stones. Using the latest gemological equipment, you will work with real diamonds and gemstones. Through extensive lab work, you will practice identifying and grading diamonds and colored stones in an efficient, accurate and consistent manner. They offer other courses in gems, jewelry, and jewelry design too.

Also, the International Gem Society offers an online Professional Gemologist certification course and the International School of Gemology, located in San Antonio, Texas offers training and certificates for prospective gemologists.

Often when people ask us how they can learn more about rocks and minerals, along with recommending they look for a lapidary club in their area (see our blog about that here: ), we recommend they check with their local or community college. Many do teach courses from rocks and minerals to jewelry making and some even have workshops or labs where you can do hands-on learning.

There are also some great websites where you can take college classes online for free or with pay for credits, that I find sometimes have interesting Earth Science classes. This includes Coursera,, etc.

Happy hunting!