Careers in Geography
While a common question of those who are studying geography is, "What are you going to do with a degree in geography?" There are actually many options and potential careers for geography majors. Geography is a major that teaches students a wide-range of useful skills for the marketplace. Employers value the wide-ranging computer, research, and analytical skills that geography students bring to work as employees. When job-hunting, it's important to stress these skills you've gained during college.
While there aren't many job titles that are "geographer," there are many types of positions that fit well with a degree in geography. Think about some of the options below as you begin your job search:
Urban Planner/Community DevelopmentGeography is a natural tie-in with urban or city planning. City planners work on zoning, land use, and new developments, from a gas station renovation to the development of whole new sections of urban area. You'll work with individual property owners, developers, and other officials. If you're interested in this area, be sure to take urban geography and urban planning classes. An internship with a city planning agency is essential experience for this type of work.
CartographerFor those with cartography course backgrounds may enjoy work as a cartographer. The news media, book publishers, atlas publishers, government agencies and others are looking for cartographers to help produce maps. This would likely require relocation.
GIS SpecialistCity governments, county agencies, and other government agencies and private groups are often in need of experienced GIS professionals. Coursework and internships in GIS are especially important. Computer programming or engineering skills are very helpful in this arena - the more about computers and languages you know, the better off you are.
ClimatologistAgencies like the National Weather Service, news media, the Weather Channel, and other government entities occasionally need a climatologist on staff. Admittedly, these jobs usually go to those with meteorology degrees, a geographer with experience and vast coursework in meteorology and climatology would definitely be an asset.
Transportation ManagementLike urban and city planning, there are opportunities in local government but regional transit authorities or shipping, logistics, and transportation companies look kindly to someone with transportation geography in their background and good computer and analytical skills.
Environmental ManagementA plethora of environmental assessment, cleanup, and management companies exist throughout the world today. A geographer brings excellent skills for project management and the development of reports like environmental impact reports. It's often a wide-open field with tremendous growth opportunities.
Teaching/FacultyBecoming a high school or university geography instructor requires additional education beyond your undergraduate degree but it would certainly be rewarding to instill your love of geography with future geographers. Becoming a geography professor will allow you to research the world of geography and add to the body of knowledge developed by geographers.
Emergency management is an under-explored field for geographers. Geography majors make great emergency managers. They understand the interactions between humans and the environment, know about hazards and earth processes, and can understand maps. Add in a bit of political acumen and leadership skills and you have a great emergency manager. Get started in this field by taking hazard courses in geography, geology, and sociology and intern with a local emergency management agency or the Red Cross.
For the population geographer who loves demographic data, what can be more rewarding than becoming a demographer and working for state or federal agencies to help develop population estimates and present data? The U.S. Census Bureau is one of the few entities that actually has a position titled "Geographer." Interning in a local planning agency will help in this area.
MarketingAlong a similar vein of demography, marketing is a good career for those interested in taking demographic information and getting the word out to those who match the demographics you're searching for. This is one of the more glamorous arenas a geographer can get involved in.
Librarian/Information ScientistYour research skills as a geographer apply particularly well to work as a librarian. If you want to help people navigate the world of information, this is a potential career for you.
National Park Service RangerAre you a physical geographer who needs to be outside and couldn't even consider working in an office? Perhaps a career in the National Park Service is right up your alley!
Real Estate Appraisal
Real estate appraisers develop an opinion of value for a specific piece of property. The work involves research into appropriate market areas, the assemblage of pertinent data, and the use of various analytical techniques to provide an opinion that reflects all pertinent market evidence. This multidisciplinary field incorporates aspects from geography, economics, finance, environmental planning, and law. A solid foundation in geography is essential to a real estate appraiser’s success and typical appraisal tools include aerial photos, topographic maps, GIS, and GPS.