Keil Schmid

Coastal Geologist
Coastal Services Center (NOAA)
What is your current job and what does it entail? 

I work for NOAA's Coastal Services Center as a coastal remote sensing specialist. Yeah, that is a lot of big words -- so what do they mean? (It is amazing how many job titles you will see and come to realize they really don't mean much.) I work with remote sensing data, mostly lidar, to address coastal issues and questions. In fact, much of my effort is spent making the data available to others and helping them use it to address their specific coastal questions.

What was the key factor in your career decision? 

I grew up near the beach and loved to make structures in the sand and see how they would do as the tide rose. I developed an understanding of coastal processes without knowing it. I then went to school for engineering, but wanted to be outside -- so I switched to geology and then was lucky enough to be able to go to the Sea Education Association, where it was all about the ocean. I got seasick, but I was hooked.

What do like most about your career? 

I like the fact that every time I go to the beach I learn something. It has taught me to observe what is going on around me -- something you can use wherever you are. And, oh yeah, I don't have to wear a tie to work!

What do you like least about your career? 

That is a tough one. I think the fact that finding a job is difficult; it is a small market. There is less freedom to move around if you want to stay in the field. You have to be patient, take some detours, but stay focused on the long-term goal.

What do you do to relax? 

I try not to "relax" too much. So, when I am not working I keep busy working on and racing Bombino, my 10-year-old BMW M3, playing soccer, surfing and windsurfing, and of course playing with my kids.

Who are your heroes/heroines? 

Too many to mention -- everyone has the ability to be a hero; I am humbled when I see everyday people acting on it.

What advice would you give a student who expressed an interest in pursuing a career in your field? 

Go to the coast, watch the waves, play in the sand, keep your eyes open and let it all sink in. Classes are classes; take the ones that interest you. There are so many ways to get to the same career goals and each way brings a new perspective, which is what helps things progress. If we all took the same path, we would just keep reinventing things.

Are career opportunities in your field increasing or decreasing and why? 

Technology is making the field wider -- allowing more room for varied career choices in the overall field of coastal/marine science. The pie is split more ways, and, I think, growing as more people live along the coast and the ocean moves further inland (sea level rise). There are increasing pressures and we are starting to see the costs of inaction; I think addressing these problems is going to broaden opportunities in coastal/marine science.

What will you be doing 10 years from today? 

Probably what I am doing right now, but maybe somewhere else in the world.

Keil Schmid

I grew up near the beach and loved to make structures in the sand and see how they would do as the tide rose. I developed an understanding of coastal processes without knowing it.

Education

B.S., Geology, Northeastern University
M.S., Sedimentary Geology, East Carolina University

Salary

$60,000 - $80,000