Geography is an exciting and wide ranging field of study. Whether focusing on the human, physical or technical fields geography graduates go on to rewarding careers and enriched lives. While there aren't many job titles that are "geographer," there are many types of positions that fit well with a degree in geography.
Geography is a very attractive major for today's students. The field provides marketable skills and the broad perspectives on environment and society that enable graduates to move beyond entry-level positions. As a major geography builds a sound and unique foundation for students who plan to enter the world tackling issues ranging from climate change to international relations to computer assisted spatial analysis. Geographers also find their skills useful and sought after by employers from fields including business, law, medicine, politics and much more.
Read on to find out about the specific subfields of geography, a small sample of the job titles geographers may find themselves in, an explanation of the requirements of a geography degree at Grossmont College, and helpful links to further information.
Geography has a strong link to the natural sciences through physical geography. Courses that may be offered in this field include climatology, meteorology, oceanography, geomorphology (landforms), soils, biogeography (distribution and ecology of plants), zoogeography (distribution and ecology of animals), and natural resource management. Courses in physical geography importantly integrate earth processes with the human use of the earth. For instance, examining agriculture in relation to its dependence upon such physical processes as climate, weather, and the formation and erosion of soils.
Those with a good background in physical geography are well prepared to deal with issues of climatology, resources management, environmental regulation and research, emergency management and more. Physical geographers also study the impact of such natural hazards as hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes.
This concentration focuses on the aspects of geography that relate to different cultures, with an emphasis on cultural origins and movement and the cultural characteristics of regions (e.g., language, religion, ethnicity, politics, historical development, agricultural methods, settlement patterns, and quality of life). Cultural ecology--the ways in which humans have interacted with their cultural and natural environment at various times--is also included.
Cultural geographers often try to reconstruct past environments, and to do so they must be equally skilled in library research, field observation, and the interpretation of cultural artifacts. Historical geographers are interested in recreating the geography of past times.
Courses in this area include historical geography, cultural geography, cultural ecology, human geography, human use of the earth, and humanity and nature. Many cultural and human geographers are area specialists as well, which means that they focus their attention on a specific region, such as Latin America, Europe, or Asia. They become area experts and come to understand the way of life in particular countries. They often complement their major courses in a foreign language, anthropology, history, economics, or comparative political systems. Having done so, they bring real expertise and understanding to issues of U.S. foreign policy and to international business
Economic geography is concerned with the location and distribution of economic activity. It focuses on the location of industries and retail and wholesale businesses, on transportation and trade, and on the changing value of real estate. Courses in economic geography may cover such topics as transportation, agriculture, industrial location, world trade, and the spatial organization and function of business activity. Students who have a strong interest in economic geography will be likely to see global interdependence as a focus of their academic program.
Geographers often work as planners to ensure that communities develop in an orderly way, along with the services necessary to support them. Planners must be able to develop building plans for subdivisions and housing projects. They need to understand all factors that affect the value of land and real estate. Planning is a rapidly expanding field, and geographers are filling a great many jobs. Planning courses teach students how to prepare master plans that will benefit neighborhoods, communities, cities, and regions. Support courses include material on the geography of population, transportation, social services, utilities, and solid-waste disposal systems. Other topics include resource planning, land-use planning, and the delivery of municipal services (which involves the planning of police patrol routes, the location of firehouses and emergency medical services, and ways of making school bus routes shorter and more efficient).
Thousands of geographers have jobs involving maps. Maps are essential. They are used by planners, engineers, utility companies, state agencies, construction companies, surveyors, architects, and ordinary citizens. One of the greatest growth areas is the use of computers to generate maps and store map-related information. Geospatial technologies (geographic information systems, computer mapping, GPS, etc.). is a high-growth industry and reaching $35 billion in annual revenues in 2007, up from $5 billion in 2002. Geospatial technologies are one of the three biggest emerging fields identified by the Department of Labor, and they are providing 75,000 new job hires per year. A student with these unique technical skills is marketable in every field and industry.
Visit the AAG website to explore what geography is, job descriptions, advice and explanations from working geographers, future contacts, internships and positions
The potential for practicing geography in private enterprise and government has grown considerably in recent years, although often such positions are not designated with the title of geographer. Many geographers work in the private and public sectors, below is a list of positions held by geographers:
Air Pollution Specialist
Air Quality Analyst
Air/water quality control
Airline Marketing Executive
Appraiser for a real estate
National Forest Service
Biologist (consulting )
Budget Planning and City Policy Manager
Coastal Zone Manager
Colonel in the U.S. Army
Computer Specialist for a U.S. National Park
Conservation Education Coordinator
Customs Port Investigator
Insurance Data Analyst
Department of Agriculture
U.S. National Science Foundation
Computer Assisted News
Director of Industrial Development
Planning and Zoning
Environmental Impact Analyst
Field Data Specialist
Foreign Service Officer
U.S. Defense Mapping Agency
Geographer at the Smithsonian Institution U.S. Bureau of the Census
Geographer at the U.S. Department of Agriculture
U.S. Economic Dev. Adm.
Army Corps of Engineers
Geographer Park Ranger
U.S. Department of State
National Biological Service
Geopolitical Specialist for a software corporation
GIS Analyst in a corporation
GIS county Coordinator
GIS Environmental Coordinator
GIS Database Management
Hazardous waste planner
Health Services planner
Human Service Positions:
Soil and water conservation
Intelligence Analyst Interpretation Center
International Business Representative
International Investment Analyst
International Law and Relations Researcher
Land Scientist (Consulting)
Land Use Planner for a city
Market Research Analyst
Meteorologist at the U.S. National Weather Service
Natural Historian, U.S. Soil Conservation Service
Natural Resource Manager
Peace Corps Volunteer
Physical Scientist at USGS
Physical Scientist U.S. Defense
Planning, economic, Planning, environmental
Social mobilization Community-building
Planning Info. Director
Pollution Control Specialist
Public Info. Coordinator
Public Opinion Pollster
Ranger- U.S. National Park
Real Estate Agent/Broker
Real Estate Research
Recycling Coordinator Redevelopment Coordinator
Regional Environmentalist Regional Planner
Remote Sensing Analyst
Research Meteorologist, U.S. Climatic Data Center
National Weather Service
Research/Technical Advisor (Film/TV)
Bureau of Indian Affairs
Sales Campaign Planner
Technical Sales Rep.
Terrain/Land Use Planner
Department of Ag.
Urban Regional planner
Water & Natural Resources
Water Quality Spec
Wetlands Conservation Reclamation authority
Inspector for a township
Zoning Inspector for a city
The following list is an assemblage of jobs from many sources within the geographic world.
The Association of American Geographers Jobs in Geography (AAG members only)
Careers in Geography (The Association of American Geographers)
GIS Jobs Clearinghouse
GeoSearch GIS, Global Positioning Systems, Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing, Image Processing, Computer Science.
Earthworks- jobs.com Jobs in geoscience, geography, environmental, agriculture, forestry, ecology, meteorology, oceanography, hydrology, soil, GIS and related subjects.
Earth Science and Other Job Information
GISjobs classifieds, resumes, mailing list, advertising, survey, resources.
Job-Hunt. Or Employmentoffice.net/The World Wide Web Employment Office