If you enjoy geography, working outdoors and find earthquakes fascinating then a career as a Seismologist could be for you.

In this profile:

Career Overview

Seismologists are scientists that study earthquakes – how and why they take place. Their duties include collecting, analysing and monitoring how the Earth moves to help predict and prevent future disasters that could harm mankind. Some of the activities which are involved with being a Seismologist include: visiting earthquake sites, mapping earthquakes and measuring the magnitude on the Richter scale, assessing the damage potential of the earthquake and forecasting possible future earthquakes.

Studying and working with earthquakes isn’t the only thing that Seismologists do. Their work spreads into assisting the building engineering industry, detecting nuclear explosions, and the Mining, Mineral or Gas industries.

Required School Subjects

You will need to have taken the following subjects at high school:

  • English (Home Language or First Additional Language)
  • Pure Mathematics
  • Physical Sciences

Recommended subjects:

  • Geography

Recommended Institutions and APS

The following institutions are highly recommended for studies in Seismology:

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Required Qualification/s

A Bachelor’s degree is the minimum required qualification for this career. Depending on what you would like to specialise in regarding the world of Seismology, a Master’s or Doctorate may be the minimum requirements. Field work requires a Master’s degree and conducting research requires a Doctorate.

Required Skills

You will need to have the following skills to succeed as a Seismologist:

  • Excellent Communication
  • Strong Critical Thinking
  • Problem-solving
  • Detail Oriented
  • Team work
  • Aptitude for Mathematics and Science

Where can you work

As a Seismologist, you will be able to work in one of the following environments:

  • Petroleum Organisations
  • Geophysical Organisations
  • Higher Educational Institutions
  • Government Departments
  • Research Firms
  • Environmental Consulting Firms
  • Oil and Gas Organisations

Working Hours

Working hours are generally 40 hours a week. Field work, on the other hand, tends to require work to be completed over weekends or during the night.


Seismologists earn between R153 000 and R867 000, with an average of R450 000. Bonuses are generally awarded within this career and qualification and level of experience are factors which contribute to the salary package. Location also affects the salary package.

What to Expect

Here are a few things you can expect from a career as a Seismologist:

  • Outdoor work is part of this career, however work is also carried out indoors
  • The career is physically demanding, maintaining a high health levels is beneficial
  • Working hours tend to be a bit odd as work is generally conducted when an earthquake takes place
  • Some field work is carried out in remote locations and moving for extended periods is something to adjust to

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