Earth Science is an interdisciplinary field offering opportunities to work on practical problems that are important for life as we know it on Earth. Because the Earth and its environment are all around us, job opportunities related to the Earth and the environment will always be plentiful. Top industries that hire earth scientists include engineering, surveying, research, and education. Successful completion of an Associate in Science (AS) degree in Earth Systems Science will result in a strong foundation in several key aspects of earth science, which prepares students to continue in the field to study geologic hazards, GIS, climate science, meteorology, oceanography, the environment, resource management, or any number of other related subfields.

Graduates of this program will successfully complete the following learning outcomes:

  • Collect and correlate geologic data
  • Prepare and interpret graphs, maps, and diagrams of geologic data
  • Identify and explain the origins of minerals and rocks
  • Describe the inter-relationships between geology and the other areas of science
  • Become informed of the one-world concept of geological processes affecting humanity
  • Explain the fundamentals of a GIS, including what they are, how they are used, and what is required to develop and maintain them
  • Develop scientific hypothesis regarding climate processes and design simple tests to test the hypothesis


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Earth Systems Science

To get started on your personalized Academic Plan, visit the Academic Planning page or schedule an appointment to meet with an advisor.

Career Overview & Job Outlook

Successful completion of this program may lead to a variety of employment opportunities, most of which require continued higher education at the university level. Below are examples of related occupations and annual mean wages in Arizona according to a May 2020 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates Report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Forest and Conservation Technicians
Provide technical assistance regarding the conservation of soil, water, forests, or related natural resources. May compile data pertaining to size, content, condition, and other characteristics of forest tracts under the direction of foresters, or train and lead forest workers in forest propagation and fire prevention and suppression. May assist conservation scientists in managing, improving, and protecting rangelands and wildlife habitats.
Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant and System Operators
Operate or control an entire process or system of machines, often through the use of control boards, to transfer or treat water or wastewater.
Environmental Engineering Technologists and Technicians
Apply theory and principles of environmental engineering to modify, test, and operate equipment and devices used in the prevention, control, and remediation of environmental problems, including waste treatment and site remediation, under the direction of engineering staff or scientists. May assist in the development of environmental remediation devices.
Manage public and private forested lands for economic, recreational, and conservation purposes. May inventory the type, amount, and location of standing timber, appraise the timber's worth, negotiate the purchase, and draw up contracts for procurement. May determine how to conserve wildlife habitats, creek beds, water quality, and soil stability, and how best to comply with environmental regulations. May devise plans for planting and growing new trees, monitor trees for healthy growth, and determine optimal harvesting schedules.
Conservation Scientists
Manage, improve, and protect natural resources to maximize their use without damaging the environment. May conduct soil surveys and develop plans to eliminate soil erosion or to protect rangelands. May instruct farmers, agricultural production managers, or ranchers in best ways to use crop rotation, contour plowing, or terracing to conserve soil and water; in the number and kind of livestock and forage plants best suited to particular ranges; and in range and farm improvements, such as fencing and reservoirs for stock watering.
Study the nature and use of areas of the Earth's surface, relating and interpreting interactions of physical and cultural phenomena. Conduct research on physical aspects of a region, including land forms, climates, soils, plants, and animals, and conduct research on the spatial implications of human activities within a given area, including social characteristics, economic activities, and political organization, as well as researching interdependence between regions at scales ranging from local to global.
Soil and Plant Scientists
Conduct research in breeding, physiology, production, yield, and management of crops and agricultural plants or trees, shrubs, and nursery stock, their growth in soils, and control of pests; or study the chemical, physical, biological, and mineralogical composition of soils as they relate to plant or crop growth. May classify and map soils and investigate effects of alternative practices on soil and crop productivity.
Research the distribution, circulation, and physical properties of underground and surface waters; and study the form and intensity of precipitation and its rate of infiltration into the soil, movement through the earth, and return to the ocean and atmosphere.
Study the composition, structure, and other physical aspects of the Earth. May use geological, physics, and mathematics knowledge in exploration for oil, gas, minerals, or underground water; or in waste disposal, land reclamation, or other environmental problems. May study the Earth's internal composition, atmospheres, and oceans, and its magnetic, electrical, and gravitational forces. Includes mineralogists, paleontologists, stratigraphers, geodesists, and seismologists.
Environmental Engineers
Research, design, plan, or perform engineering duties in the prevention, control, and remediation of environmental hazards using various engineering disciplines. Work may include waste treatment, site remediation, or pollution control technology.
Atmospheric and Space Scientists
Investigate atmospheric phenomena and interpret meteorological data, gathered by surface and air stations, satellites, and radar to prepare reports and forecasts for public and other uses. Includes weather analysts and forecasters whose functions require the detailed knowledge of meteorology.

Contact Information

Robert Killin
Division Chair, Science
(928) 317-7685
Office: AS 117