How to Become a Census Geographer


Before setting off to become a census geographer, you first need to determine if this career path is a good fit for you. Does the following describe you?


• You are interested in human geography 

• You have at least a bachelor’s degree in Geography or a related field

• You are proficient in GIS software

• You pay close attention to detail when working

• You enjoy compiling and organizing information


Below we've outlined what you'll need to begin a career as a census geographer. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Education Needed to Become a Census Geographer

You'll likely need a bachelor’s degree in geography or a directly related discipline, although many employers prefer to hire candidates that have a master’s degree.


Relevant coursework includes:


• Photogrammetry

• Computer Science

• Land Surveying

• Physical Geography

• Remote Sensing

• Statistics

• Anthropology

• Urban Studies and Urban Planning

• Geography

• Maps and Map Use

• Economic Geography

• Quantitative Methods in Geography

• Principles of Cartography

• Computer Mapping

• Cultural Geography

• Transportation Networks

• Principles of Map Design





Job Description of a Census Geographer

Census geographers prepare highly specialized maps, reports and files of geographic data, primarily for use in government population Census studies. The maps, reports and data prepared by census geographers are commonly used for a variety of applications, including:


• Marketing research

• Human geography research

• Determining electoral boundaries

• Determining the amount of elected officials per area

• Transportation planning

• Urban planning


Information prepared by census geographers might help determine where schools are constructed or where new transit routes are placed. The data they produce is also used in some countries used to determine the number of representatives a given community will have in government; it may also include data about the country’s agricultural and business sectors.



Typical Job Duties

• Analyze data to provide current information for use in geographic publications

• Work on countrywide cartographic and geographic databases

• Plan and monitor field operations that involve updating maps and lists of addresses for jurisdictions across the country

• Write instructions and prepare training packages for use by field supervisors and staff

• Plan, coordinate and monitor field operations, which involve recording and mapping rural addresses across the country

• Update maps and distribute Census questionnaires to households across the country



Who Employs Them?

Census geographers are employed on a part-time, full-time and contractual basis by public and private organizations that develop specialized maps and files of geographic data for use in population Census studies. Such organizations may include:


• Municipal, provincial/state and federal government departments, including municipal planning

• Consulting companies, such as cartography consulting companies

• Colleges and universities

• Public and private research organizations

• Marketing companies 





Average Salary Level

The level of earnings for census geographers can vary depending on their qualifications and the specific responsibilities of their job.


Census Geographer Salary Canada: According to the 2018 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working in the Other Professional Occupations in Social Science* occupational group earn an average salary of $87,546 per year. Unfortunately, no similar statistics were available from reliable sources for other Canadian provinces or territories at the time of writing (June 30, 2019).


Census Geographer Salary United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of American workers in the Geographers occupational group is $74,760 per year.


*Although there is no reliable salary information available specifically for Census Geographers, we can get a good idea of what they earn by looking at the income level of closely related occupations.



Skills and Traits Needed to Be Successful

To be effective in a career as a census geographer, you need to posses a certain set of skills and personality traits. These skills and traits will allow you to perform your job duties with competence and maintain a positive attitude towards your work. As a result, many employers list these as desired attributes on Census Geographer job postings.


• Enjoy compiling information and data

• An interest in determining how people and their activity are distributed in an area

• An energetic approach to work activities

• Strong oral and written communication skills

• Able to develop attractive/effective reports, presentations and materials using current technology

• Proficient using GIS software

• Proficient in creating and manipulating digital images in GIS software

• Knowledge and understanding of Microsoft Excel/Access

• Able to interpret and use relevant scientific information (to assist in planning and development for example)

• May require knowledge of Adobe Illustrator and other Adobe Suite products

• Thorough understanding of geographical principles and statistical techniques



Current Job Postings

Our job board below has 'census geographer' postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.




Similar Occupations in Our Database

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to census geographer, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.




Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Specialist

Map Editor

Urban Planner



References for This Guide

Please consult the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a census geographer.


Occupations in Alberta:Geographer.” (March 31, 2019). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved November 2, 2019.

Life, Physical, and Social Science:Geographers.” (September 4, 2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved November 2, 2019.

Census Program:Geography.” (March 20, 2019). Statistics Canada website - Government of Canada. Retrieved November 2, 2019.

Resources: Census Bureau Geography.” (n.d.). Census Bureau website - United States Government. Retrieved November 2, 2019.



Scholarships for Becoming a Census Geographer

Scholarships listed for majors that apply to becoming a census geographer can be found on our Geography Scholarships page.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Relevant Fields of Study for This Profession

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point for getting into this profession: 


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