If when you hear the word ?geoscientist,? you picture someone with a hammer and a shovel trying to determine soil or rock types, your image is partly correct. If you imagine someone searching for oil in a desert or drilling deep holes, there?s nothing wrong there, either. But although career paths like these are typical for many geoscientists, they do not paint the whole picture.

Like scientists in other disciplines, today?s geoscientists (or ?earth scientists,? as they like to be called in some countries) work in a wide variety of arenas. Besides the traditional fields mentioned above, you?ll find geoscientists working in remote sensing, mapping, and geographic information systems (GIS); and they?ll pop up in science administration, environmental consulting, and even museums. That?s in addition to the many who remain in geological research in fields that include earth and atmospheric sciences, environmental sciences, marine science, renewable energy, and fossil fuels.

Not surprisingly, perhaps, the main characteristic of a geoscientist is that she or he is trained to work in many different fields--as long as they have to do with the geosphere in one way or the other. The key to this diversity lies in the nature of the subject: The term ?geo? includes rocks, soil, minerals, water, landscape, the atmosphere--everything about Earth. Training in geosciences therefore produces many generalists possessing knowledge that can be applied in all these areas.

2002 has been declared the ?Year of the Geosciences? in Germany. Therefore, Next Wave Germany has collected a number of essays--some new and some from our archives--about career paths for geoscientists. Our goal is to demonstrate the enormous range of jobs that young geoscientists may pursue.

Trained as a geophysicist, Stefan Schaffrath is now employed in Lufthansa?s environmental division, where he works on Balance, Lufthansa?s magazine about the environment and sustainable development.

Wanting to test the away-from-the-bench waters without losing all chance of returning to academia's fold, American Amanda Staudt took a 1-year science policy postdoc with the National Research Council. Ten months in, she?s hooked and looking for a permanent position!

After completing his postdoc, Sören Dürr worked as a consultant for an oil company in Norway, but then he left research science to become a grant administrator at the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG).

Although Singapore has as yet only one degree program for geoscientists, opportunities for young scientists exist in at least a half-dozen research centres, reports Thanabalasingam Yugarani.

Georg Delisle was able to exercise his interest in meteorites by spending several summers in Antarctica.

One place at which you?ll find a lot of information on remote sensing (including job opportunities) is Cubicworld. Carl Jan Keuck, a geoscientist and co-founder of this student-initiated Web site, tells you more about it.

Dutch geoscientist Karin Zonneveld, now in a permanent position at the University of Bremen in Germany, shares her thoughts on why an interest in international research is beneficial.