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Geography: What Can I Do With This Degree?

Environmental Geography

Environmental geographers are concerned with how human beings use the earth and impact the environment.

  • Environmental management
  • Conservation
  • Waste management
  • Environmental regulation
  • Emergency management
  • Outdoor recreation management

Employers

  • Federal and state government: Environmental Protection Agency, Departments of Agriculture, National Forest Service, National Park Service
  • Real estate developers
  • Scientific and research groups
  • Waste management companies
  • Chemical companies
  • Firms specializing in forestry, mining, environmental issues, or surveying
  • Law firms

Information & Strategies

  • Become skilled in related computer technology.
  • Take biology and chemistry courses for environmental management positions.
  • Take electives in plant science, forestry, and wildlife management for careers in recreation and forestry management.
  • Join environmental organizations on campus and in your community.
  • Seek environmental-related experience through internships, summer, or part-time jobs.
  • Learn federal government job application process.
  • Earn a law degree for work areas such as environmental law and policy.

Cultural & Human Geography

Cultural and human geographers study the aspects of geography that relate to different cultures. They especially focus on cultural origins and movement and the cultural characteristics of regions.

  • Cultural resources
  • Historic preservation
  • Historical consultation
  • Community development/redevelopment
  • Education
  • Research

Employers

  • State, regional, and local government
  • Peace Corps
  • Real estate developers
  • Companies dealing with insurance, transportation, communications, and international trade
  • Scientific and research groups
  • Museums

Information & Strategies

  • Develop an open mind towards the language, history, customs, and culture of other countries.
  • Learn how to conduct library research, make field observations, and interpret artifacts.
  • Learn a foreign language for field observations in other countries.
  • Participate in cross-cultural groups and organizations.
  • Develop excellent communication and teamwork skills in order to work with historians and archivists in recreating the geography of the past.
  • Obtain related experience in your area of interest through volunteer or paid positions including internships.
  • Become skilled in related computer technology.
  • Learn federal, state, and local government job application process.

Geographic Technology

Geographers utilize a variety of technologies to generate maps, store, analyze, and interpret map information.

  • Cartography
  • Geographic information systems
  • Remote sensing

Employers

  • Federal government agencies: Departments of Defense, Interior, Commerce, Agriculture, Defense mapping, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Central Intelligence Agency
  • State and regional government agencies: Departments of Transportation or Agriculture
  • Private industry including telephone, utilities, construction, engineering, energy, environmental planning, and consulting firms
  • Map publishers
  • Mapping software companies
  • Colleges and universities

Information & Strategies

  • Take courses in surveying and measurements, photogrammetry, computer systems, database management, technical mathematics, drafting, statistics, optics, remote sensing, art, or graphics.
  • Learn to be detail oriented.
  • Gain experience reading maps and interpreting data sources including geological surveys and satellite images.
  • Seek related experience, such as a part-time job or internship, to develop technical skills.
  • Investigate federal, state, and local government job application process.

Planning

Planners ensure that communities develop in an orderly way and that they have the services necessary to support them.

  • City/Regional planning
  • Housing development
  • Convention/Tourism
  • Community development
  • Demography
  • Transportation
  • Waste management
  • Conservation

Employers

  • City, county, and regional planning agencies
  • Local and state government
  • Federal government agencies including: Agency for International Development, World Bank, Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • Research organizations
  • Private business
  • Banks
  • Industrial firms
  • Public utilities
  • Architecture firms
  • Real estate developers

Information & Strategies

  • Develop teamwork and communication skills.
  • Participate in student government.
  • Take courses in public administration or public finance.
  • Observe city/county advisory meetings.
  • Seek internship or work experience in a local government office, as they are a large employer in this area.
  • Learn federal, state, and local government job application process.
  • Obtain master's degree in planning.
  • Earn a dual degree in planning and law.
  • Research the certified planning credential obtained through the American Institute of Certified Planners.

Physical Geography

Physical geographers study earth processes such as climate and weather. They also evaluate the impact of natural hazards such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes.

  • Biogeography
  • Geomorphology
  • Natural hazards
  • Weather and climate
  • Hydrology
  • Environmental regulation
  • Waste management and disposal

Employers

  • State and local government
  • Federal government agencies including U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Geological Survey, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, The National Resources Conservation Service
  • TV/Radio stations
  • Agribusiness corporations
  • Outdoor recreation companies
  • Resource management agencies
  • Research institutes
  • Insurance companies

Information & Strategies

  • Develop strong analytical and communication skills.
  • Take courses in physics, chemistry, soil science, agriculture.
  • Take courses like weather systems, atmospheric dynamics, thermodynamics, physical meteorology for more job options in meteorology/atmospheric science.
  • Gain experience through part-time jobs, internships, or volunteer opportunities related to climate, weather, or natural hazards.
  • Be willing to relocate to regions that have job availability.

Economic Geography

Economic geographers study the distribution of resources and economic activities within a certain region. They may use this information to advise organizations on where to build new facilities.

  • Location scouting
  • Real estate analysis
  • Transportation
  • Agricultural planning
  • Travel/Tourism planning

Employers

  • Federal, state, and local government
  • Market research firms
  • Manufacturing, wholesale, and retail firms
  • Public utilities
  • Consulting firms
  • Real estate appraisers and developers
  • Banks

Information & Strategies

  • Develop strong communication skills.
  • Take business courses such as economics, advertising, marketing, finance, or statistics to increase marketability in the field.
  • Earn a business minor.
  • Learn to see all sides of a problem, including economic, social, political, and environmental.
  • Observe city/county advisory meetings.
  • Obtain business or planning related work/volunteer experience to build contacts and increase marketability.
  • Consider earning a master's degree in planning.

Geographic Education

Geography teachers may specialize in one or more areas of the discipline or incorporate it into a social science education program.

  • Teaching
  • Research

Employers

  • Elementary/secondary schools, public and private
  • Colleges and universities

Information & Strategies

  • Develop strong communication skills, both oral and written.
  • Seek volunteer or paid experiences, such as camp counselor or tutor, with target age group.
  • Research state standards for certification.
  • Obtain certification/licensure for public school teaching.
  • Obtain multiple certifications for increased employability.
  • Specialize in an area such as quantitative research techniques, computer mapping, or natural resource management.
  • Join National Council for Geographic Education.
  • Complete a master's degree for community college teaching or a PhD for college/university teaching and research.
  • Maintain a high GPA and build strong faculty recommendations to prepare for graduate school.

General Information

  • A bachelor's degree qualifies you for entry-level positions in government and industry.
  • A master's degree qualifies you for community college teaching and advancement in industry and government.
  • A PhD is required for research and teaching positions in colleges and universities and senior positions in government and industry.
  • Geography provides a broad foundation for future career endeavors.
  • Obtain volunteer, part-time, summer, internship, or co-op experience in your area of interest.
  • Join professional organizations such as the American Geography Society or the National Council for Geographic Education.
  • Become a member of groups directed toward improvement of natural resources or environment and pollution control.
  • Maintain knowledge of current environmental issues including policy, conservation, and industry trends.
  • Computer knowledge is extremely important in geography. Obtain experience with geographic information systems.
  • Develop strong mathematical and statistical skills.
  • Develop skills and interest in mapping, graphics, and charts. An interest in photography may prove beneficial.
  • Develop good communication skills.
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