1. What training, or education, or both helped prepare you for this career?
I have a bachelor's degree (majors in zoology and geology), master's degree (in geology) and Ph.D. (in geology, with a focus in geochemistry). Before getting my Ph.D. I worked as a researcher in a university laboratory for a while, and for an environmental consulting firm. These experiences were important because they helped me decide that I did want to go back to school, and what I wanted to study. Having some "real-world" experience has also been valuable for teaching.
2. Please describe your current job.
I am a college professor (geology and environmental studies at Central Michigan University). I teach classes, do research, supervise student research projects, and advise students. As director of the environmental studies program, I have also been involved in developing new courses, majors, and minors. During the school year, most of my time is spent on classes (preparing lectures, assignments, laboratories, and tests;
teaching, grading, and working with students) and the rest on university
service (meetings, departmental and committee work, and advising). During
the summers I have some time to work on research projects (my own and with
students). I like to get out "in the field" and to work in the laboratory.
The subjects that I am interested in (and pursue through research and
teaching) are water quality, geochemistry of heavy metals, hydrogeology,
and environmental geology and geochemistry.
3. What do you like most about your job?
One of the best things about this job is that things never become routine. Each term there are different classes, new students, and new projects to work on. I enjoy talking to and working with students.
4. What do you like least about your job?
Grading is the worst part of teaching. Paper work and other administrative duties sometime seem overly time-consuming.
5. Are career opportunities in your field increasing or decreasing, and why?
I think that college teaching job opportunities are probably going to remain the same. There may be additional opportunities in different specialties such as environmental sciences in the future.
6. What advice would you give to a student who expressed an interest in
pursuing a career in your field?
You need to have unlimited enthusiasm about your field to do this job well. You need to keep both yourself and your students interested and motivated. Contrary to popular belief, teaching college is time-consuming and far from stress-free, so don't think it's an easy career. But it can be a lot of fun.