Careers with a Geography Degree

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Geography careers can take many shapes and forms because of the natural diversity of an education in this field. 

 

Why is that? Well, it’s because geography contains elements of both social and physical sciences, which allows you to gain exposure to different perspectives in the analysis of the many environmental and situational problems of contemporary society.

 

As a graduate of a geography program, you’ll posses technical training in computing and skills in geographic communication, as well as spatial analysis and GIS. These are skills make you highly appealing to a wide variety of employers.

 

This means that earning a degree with a geography major gives you a fantastic opportunity to get a career in a diverse range of possible fields.

 

Some jobs you may qualify for right after your undergrad degree. Other jobs will require further education and training, particularly those that demand a greater level of expertise in a certain area. Fortunately, as a geography graduate, you’re in a good position to pursue graduate studies in geography, or in other fields such as education, urban planning, natural resource management, law, or public administration, among many others.

 

So, if you want to know more about where this degree can take you, read on below. This careers guide contains detailed occupational information on career paths relevant to this degree. Included are job descriptions, expected salaries, educational requirements and other helpful information related to these careers. 

 

 

 

 

List of Careers Relevant to This Degree

The knowledge and skills you can gain by studying geography at the university level serve as an excellent foundation for a variety of careers, either because the subject matter of the degree relates to the occupational field, or because the skills you’ll need to be an effective employee can be gained in a geography degree program.

 

Below is a list of these relevant careers that can be found in our database:

 

 

Aerial Photographer

Agricultural Extension Supervisor

Blogger

Cartographer

Census Geographer

Community Planner

Ecologist

Environmental Education Officer

Environmental Policy Officer

Flight Attendant

Geographer

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Specialist

Geomatics Plan Technician

Hazardous Waste Technologist

Helicopter Pilot

Hydrographer

Hydrologist

Land Agent

Land Manager

Land Surveyor

Map Editor

Map Librarian

Paleontologist

Parks Planner

Project Assistant

Real Estate Appraiser

Real Estate Developer

• Regional Planner

Remote Sensing Technician

Research Assistant

Science Writer

Survey Technician

Transportation Planner

Travel Agent

University Professor

Urban Planner

Water Resources Specialist

Zoning Inspector

 

Please Note: Some of the above listed careers require additional education, training and/or experience. Click on careers that are of interest to you to find out more about the qualifications you’ll need.

 

 

Who Hires Graduates? Where Might You Find Work?

Below are some examples of public and private employers with whom you may find work as a geography graduate (not an inclusive list):

 

Government Agencies

 

• Air Quality Control Office - Regional District

• Canadian Bureau of Indian and North Affairs

• Department of Transportation

• Military Geography

• Municipal Zoning Departments

• Municipal Government - Demographic Data Analysis

• National Census Bureau

• National Climatic Data Center

• National Defense Intelligence Agency

• National Geological Survey

• National Soil Conservation Service

• Provincial/State Geological Survey

• Provincial/State National Parks

• Public Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration

• Regional Census Bureau

• Regional Economic Development Office

• Tourism Bureau

 

 

Private Organizations

 

• Airlines

• Consulting Agencies

• Corporations - Business Analysts

• Corporations - Geographer

• Engineering Firms

• Insurance Companies - Data Analysis Division

• Newspapers

• Real Estate Brokerages

• Real Estate Investment Trusts

• Software Corporations - GIS Specialist

• Wetlands Conservation Organizations

 

 


 

Job Opportunities Related to Your Degree!

Whether you're a geography student looking for a job to help you pay for school, or a graduate looking for an entry or mid-level job, our job board has opportunities directly and indirectly related to your degree.

 

Find Geography Related Jobs

 

 


 

What Geography Teaches You

Geography is the study of earth spaces and places. The field of geography is concerned with the patterning of physical and human phenomena in earth space. This includes examining the nature and depth of the impact humans have on our natural and social environments.


 

Geography degree programs are typically wide in scope, and aim to provide you with training in both the physical and social elements of geography. They also aim to teach you skills, such as GIS and remote sensing, that are necessary for you to succeed in future geography careers.


 

These programs must also enable you to examine the political, social and economic processes involved in shaping local and regional human landscapes. You can apply this knowledge in a variety of geography-related careers, such as those that involve analyzing demographic data.

 

 

 

 

Employable Skills of Graduates

Geography programs can teach you a set of skills as well as a knowledge base that is unique to the major, and highly employable in geography-related careers. Some of these skills include:

 

• Ability to effectively use geospatial technologies, such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS), computer mapping, remote sensing and others

• Ability to use geographic concepts and skills, such as cartography, geographic information systems, statistics and qualitative methods

• Ability to understand the natural and social processes that form our environments, as well as the changing interrelationships between environment and society

• Ability to perform geographical analysis of social, physical, and cultural issues

• Ability to manipulate geographic data and working with maps, graphs, and diagrams, using related computer equipment and software

 

 

 

Sectors of Industry for Careers in Geography

There are many sectors of industry in which you can find work that’s relevant to your degree. These sectors include:

 

• Cartography/Mapping

• Census Data Acquisition/Analysis

• Environmental Consulting

• First Nations Governance

• Geographical Information Systems (GIS)

• Geomatics

• Geotechnical Engineering

• International development

• Meteorology

• Natural Resource Management

• Retail Market Planning

• Urban and Regional Planning

 

 

 

Average Salary Levels of Graduates

The salary you could earn with a geography degree varies based on a wide variety of factors, such as:

 

• The type, size, and budget of your employer

• The discretion of your employer

• Your level of education, including any relevant certifications 

• Your level and experience, such as if you are a 'junior' or 'senior' planner, for example

• The region in which you work 

• How much overtime you are able to work (if applicable)

• The amount of responsibility inherent in your position

• Your level of experience (it’s worth noting that people with several years worth of experience can often earn substantially in their profession more than what’s listed below)

 

The salary you could earn as a graduate of this field is also highly dependent on the occupation you pursue. Below is an overview of the average earnings of people in a few career fields that are relevant to a degree in geography (some careers may require further education and training, such as "Urban Planner"). Please note that in many cases, workers in these fields can earn a much lower, or much higher salary, than what is listed below. 

 

 

Aerial Photographer

Alberta: $44,192 (ALIS)

Canada: $41,491 (PayScale)

United States: $32,490

 

Cartographer

Alberta: $74,501 (ALIS)

Canada: N/A

United States: $63,990 (BLS)

 

Census Geographer

(See “Geographer”)

 

Community Planner

Alberta: $96,293 (ALIS)

Canada: $64,645 (Indeed)

United States: $71,490 (BLS)

 

Environmental Policy Officer

Alberta: N/A

Canada: $80,782 (Glassdoor)

United States: $65,000 (Glassdoor)

 

Flight Attendant

Alberta: N/A

Canada: $53,140 (Glassdoor)

United States: $44,860 (BLS)

 

Geographer

Alberta: $87,546 (ALIS)

Canada: N/A

United States: $76,860 (BLS)

 

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Specialist

Alberta: $74,501 (ALIS)

Canada: $54,636 (PayScale)

United States: $63,990 (BLS)

 

Geomatics Plan Technician

Alberta: $55,746 (ALIS)

Canada: N/A

United States: $43,340 (BLS)

 

Hazardous Waste Technologist

Alberta: $80,949 (ALIS)

Canada: N/A

United States: N/A

 

Helicopter Pilot

Alberta: $64,265 (ALIS)

Canada: $61,152 (PayScale)

United States: $89,002 (Glassdoor)

 

Hydrographer

(See “Geographer”)

 

Hydrologist

Alberta: $128,940 (ALIS)

Canada: $65,486 (PayScale)

United States: $79,990 (BLS)

 

Land Surveyor

Alberta: $78,975 (ALIS)

Canada: $82,799 (PayScale)

United States: $61,140 (BLS)

 

Map Editor

Alberta: $74,501 (ALIS)

Canada: N/A

United States: $63,990 (BLS)

 

Map Librarian

Alberta: $49,118 (ALIS)

Canada: $52,213 (PayScale)

United States: $58,520 (BLS)

 

Paleontologist

Alberta: $87,546 (ALIS)

Canada: $85,000 (Glassdoor)

United States: $62,280 (BLS)

 

Parks Planner

(See “Community Planner”)

 

Real Estate Appraiser

Alberta: $74,614 (ALIS)

Canada: $71,264 (indeed)

United States: $54,010 (BLS)

 

Remote Sensing Technician

Alberta: $74,501 (ALIS)

Canada: $49,063 (PayScale)

United States: $43,340 (BLS)

 

Research Assistant

Alberta: $41,027 (ALIS)

Canada: $32,796 (Glassdoor)

United Sates: $26,560 (BLS)

 

Science Writer

Alberta: $58,979 (ALIS)

Canada: $56,634 (PayScale)

United States: $57,549 (BLS)

 

Survey Technician

Alberta: $55,746 (ALIS)

Canada: $49,640 (indeed)

United States: $43,340 (BLS)

 

Transportation Planner

Alberta: N/A

Canada: $56,105 (PayScale)

United States: $61,426 (Glassdoor)

 

Travel Agent

Alberta: $38,209 (ALIS)

Canada: $39,156 (indeed)

United States: $36,990 (BLS)

 

Urban Planner

Alberta: $96,293 (ALIS)

Canada: $74,955 (PayScale)

United States: $71,490 (BLS)

 

Water Resources Specialist

Alberta: $63,721 (ALIS)

Canada: $69,245 (PayScale)

United States: $69,400 (BLS)

 

Zoning Inspector 

Alberta: N/A

Canada: $61,042 PayScale)

United States: $59,090 (BLS)

 

 

The name in brackets next to the salary data for each region refers to the sources from which the data was obtained. Please note, the salary data that is sourced from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) represents median salary figures, rather than average salary figures. 

 

The figures from the sources of BLS and ALIS are representative of the larger occupational group that the occupation is part of. For example, “Aerial Photographers” are part of the larger occupational group “Photographers” for the purposes of the salary information provided.

 

 

Salary Data References

ALIS: Alberta Learning and Information Service (alis.alberta.ca), sponsored by the Government of Alberta. For an overview of their salary survey methodology, please visit here.

PayScale: Private organization owned by PayScale Incorporated (payscale.com). For an overview of their salary survey methodology, please visit here.

BLS: United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov), sponsored by the federal government of the United States of America. For details regarding their salary survey methodology, please visit here.

Glassdoor: Glassdoor is a private organization owned by Glassdoor incorporated (glassdoor.com). For an overview of their salary survey methodology, please visit here.

 

 

 

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Gaining Career Experience Before Graduation

Pursuing an internship (for our purposes also known as a practicum, field placement, or co-op work opportunity) in career fields related to your geography degree is the best way to gain relevant work experience while you’re still in school. These opportunities allow you to gain professional competencies, while simultaneously offering employers valuable temporary team members.


 

An internship position can also result in being hired by the sponsoring organization upon graduation. If you’ve done quality work and made a good impression, chances are that organization will want to retain you on a full-time basis once you’ve graduated. They will already be familiar with you and your work ethic, and they will save a great deal of time and expense trying to recruit someone else.

 

 

How Do I Find an Internship?

If these opportunities are an academic requirement, you will likely have the opportunity arranged for you, or at least a variety of potential options presented to you. If it is not a requirement, speak with your professors, other geography department staff as well as your school’s guidance and career counselors to help you find a suitable opportunity.

 

 

Relevant Scholarships

If you’re a geography major looking for help in paying for school, then you’re in luck! Our scholarships database has Canadian and American scholarships that are specific to geography, as well as scholarships that are open to any field of study.

 

Just make sure you apply for any and all scholarships for which you qualify, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships in Canada and the United States that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants.

 

 

Professional Associations

To find out more about careers directly related to your geography degree, consult the following professional association websites. They offer career-related information, and many have opportunities for student membership, as well as job placement and mentoring opportunities.


 

Canada

Canadian Institute of Geomatics

Canadian Geophysical Union

The Canadian Council for Geography Education

 

United States

American Geophysical Union

Cartography and Geographic Information Society

National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying

North American Cartographic Information Society

 

 


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