What do geographers do?

Geography is unique in bridging the social sciences and the natural sciences. There are two main branches of geography: human geography and physical geography. Human geography is concerned with the spatial aspects of human existence. Physical geographers study patterns of climates, landforms, vegetation, soils, and water. Geographers use many tools and techniques in their work, and geographic technologies are increasingly important for understanding our complex world. They include Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Remote Sensing, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), and online mapping such as Google Earth.

Great paying jobs that are in high demand

  • The US Department of Labor Labor projects “much faster than average” growth, in excess of 20% or more, in jobs for geographers, geoscientists, cartographers, urban and regional planners, and other geographic professionals, with projected needs of upwards of 15,000 additional employees in each of these career fields between 2008-2018.
  • Geospatial technology is one of the most important emerging and evolving fields in the technology industry.
  • Urban planning is consistently one of the “hot jobs” in the USA.

Geography tackles...

Explore the links below to review sample job titles associated with specific subfields within geography.

Careers in geography

Knowing and applying geographic information about geology and the processes that shape physical landscapes (e.g. soils, hydrology, topography, erosion)

  • Soil and plant specialist
  • Water resources specialist
  • Environmental scientist
  • Geophysicist

Knowing and applying geographic information about weather, climate, and atmospheric processes (e.g., temperature, precipitation, air quality)

  • Climate change analyst
  • Weatherization installers and technician
  • Atmospheric and space scientist
  • Climatologist

Knowing and applying geographic information about ecosystems and ecological processes (e.g., vegetation, wildlife, natural habitats)

  • Soil and plant specialist
  • Natural sciences manager
  • Zoologist and wildlife biologist
  • Forester
  • Biological science technician

Knowing and applying geographic information about natural hazards (e.g., hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, fire)

  • Emergency management
  • Forest fire inspector
  • Environmental consultant
  • Ecological risk assessor
  • Geotechnical engineer
  • Hazards analyst

Knowing and applying geographic information about the economy and economic processes (e.g., labor, development, industry, agriculture, transportation, trade, resources, land use, technology change)

  • Transportation manager
  • Community resource specialist
  • Market researcher
  • Business development
  • Real estate appraiser
  • Environmental economist

Knowing and applying geographic information about political systems and processes (e.g., governments, political activism, nongovernmental organizations, nations, states, international relations, nationalism)

  • Community organizer
  • Policy consultant
  • Policy researcher
  • Lobbyist
  • Christian missionary

Knowing and applying geographic information about culture and cultural processes (e.g., religion, language, ethnicity, diffusion, meaning of landscapes, cultural significance of place)

  • Tour guide and escort
  • Area, ethnic, and cultural studies teacher
  • Interpreter and translator
  • Historic preservationist
  • Writer/editor

Knowing and applying geographic information about population, demography, and demographic processes (e.g., population density, migration, birth and death rates, fertility rates)

  • Market analyst
  • Population, real estate, community association manager
  • Urban and regional planner
  • Demographer
  • Public health officer
  • Christian missionary

Knowing and applying geographic information about relationships between nature and society (e.g., pollution from industrial development, economic effects of drought)

  • Tour guide
  • Accredited land consultant
  • Manager of sustainability
  • Environmental affairs specialist

Designing paper or digital maps

  • Cartographer and photogrammetrist
  • Surveying and mapping technician
  • Civil drafter
  • Graphics editor
  • Digital cartographer

Using GIS to acquire, manage, display, and analyze spatial data in digital form

  • Geospatial information scientist and technologist
  • Geospatial analyst
  • GIS developer
  • Logistic analyst
  • Transportation planner
  • Environmental consultant

Recording, measuring, and plotting electromagnetic radiation data from aerial photographs and remote sensing systems against land features identified in ground control

  • Cartographer and photogrammetrist
  • Commerical pilot
  • Surveyor
  • Photogrammetric compliation specialist
  • Geodesist

Understanding the underlying theories and methods related to acquiring an object without contacting it physically (e.g., aerial photography, radar and satellite imaging)

  • Remote sensing scientist and technologist
  • Geointelligence specialist
  • Remote sensing analyst
  • Sensor specialist
  • Radar and sonar technician

Using interviews, questionnaires, observations, photography, maps, and other techniques for measuring geographic information in the field

  • Surveyor
  • Water quality scientist
  • Soil scientist
  • Field interviewer
  • Environemtal health specialist

Using quantitative methods to process spatial data for the purpose of making calculations, models, and inferences about space, spatial patterns, and spatial relationships

  • GIS technician
  • Statistical assistant
  • Architect

Possessing and applying knowledge of the physical and human geography of a specific country or world region

  • Urban and regional planner
  • Geointelligence specialist
  • Tour guide and escort
  • Interpreter and translator
  • Historic preservationist
  • Community developer
  • Christian missionary

Identifying, explaining, and finding meaning in spatial patterns and relationships (e.g., site conditions, how places are similar and different, the influence of a land feature on its neighbors, the nature of transitions between places, how places are linked at local, regional, and/or global scales)

  • Urban and regional planner
  • Surveyor
  • Geophysical data technician
  • Spatial analysis consultant
  • Environment specialist

Possessing and applying knowledge of how people, places, and regions are linked by global networks and processes (e.g., globalization, international trade, immigration, Internet technology, global climate system)

  • Logistics manager
  • Mapping technician
  • Geodetic surveyor
  • International development specialist
  • Journalist
  • Foreign services officer
  • Christian missionary

Drawing on and synthesizing the information, concepts, and methods of the natural and social sciences for geographic research and application

  • International development specialist
  • Urban and regional planner
  • Humanitarian affairs analyst
  • Program manager
  • Christian missionary

Using knowledge about population diversity (e.g., gender, ethnicity, race, sexuality, disability) to interpret social, economic, and political issues in different place

  • Human resources manager
  • Academic advisor
  • Market researcher
  • Public diplomacy officer
  • Travel guide
  • Christian missionary