So You Got a Degree in Geography…
There are plenty of majors that boast clear career tracks: pre-med, for example, or civil engineering. However, many students pursue those slightly more obscure majors, the ones that don’t offer an obvious path for grads after they leave school. For the most part, geography is one of the latter. Fortunately, if you have a degree in geography — or if you plan to graduate with a geography degree soon — you don’t have to fret. There are plenty of exciting and lucrative careers that take advantage of a geography student’s skills and knowledge. Here are some career options for you to consider today:
Believe it or not, satellites have not put cartographers out of business. In fact, dozens of industries rely heavily on incredibly accurate maps, meaning cartographers are still necessary in the 21st century. Your geography degree can earn you a cartography job within government agencies or in industries like oil and gas, insurance and risk management, public health, publishing and more.
Urban planning is the art and science of designing a city or town. If you pursue this career, you will work with a team of urban planners, engineers, contractors and plenty of other professionals to ensure that urban areas are functional and efficient. While your geography degree is a good start, you might want to supplement it with a graduate degree in urban planning if you are interested in pursuing this path.
Geographic information systems (GIS) specialists apply geographic information science to compile, analyze and present geographic information. As with cartography, almost all industries are coming to rely heavily on GIS, so there is no shortage of jobs. However, GIS requires the use of advanced technologies as well as familiarity with complex data. You might pursue additional education in GIS, such as a certificate or graduate degree, before jumping into this growing field.
Any time you search for information on the weather, you are relying on the diligent work of climatologists. You can find climatology jobs at national agencies, like the National Weather Service, as well as local and national media outlets, like the Weather Channel. Like other career paths on this list, climatology requires additional education in meteorology, but having geography experience is certainly an asset in this field.
If your geography studies focused on populations, you are a prefect fit for a career in demography. Demographers typically work for state and federal agencies, developing population estimates for publication and use. You can start by looking for jobs at your local planning agency and work your way up to positions within the U.S. Census Bureau.
Foreign Service Officer
Geography introduces you to nations around the world — many of which require diplomatic corps from the U.S. In this role, you will speak with foreign state officials, assist U.S. citizens in foreign lands and perform other essential diplomatic duties. To become a foreign service officer, you begin by taking a test administered by the State Department. After that, you will be contacted for interviews and assigned to a post abroad.
Similar to urban planning, transportation management is the design and development of efficient and accessible transportation for people and goods. You can find work in the public sector, helping improve public transportation, or you can assist private companies in their shipping and logistics. Geography is one of the top degrees filling these jobs, so this is one of the most straightforward career paths on this list.
While you might expect environment-related positions to be filled by those with degrees in sustainability, ecology and similar fields, geographers have much to apply to the environmental movement. You can provide greater geographic insights into environmental studies and assist in compiling critical data. This field is relatively new and wide-open for geographers like you.
Though you might have limited business experience, you are a shoo-in for marketing positions at large firms. Extensive marketing teams rely on data familiar to geographers, such as demographic information, to develop and execute campaigns. As your marketing career progresses, you might want to supplement your geography degree with more business-focused studies, but you should be able to find a satisfying job with your current credentials alone.
Real Estate Appraiser
“Location, location, location” is a common phrase in real estate, and one that should naturally attract those with geography experience. One of the highest-paying real estate careers is in real estate appraisal, which is the valuation of properties to assist in appropriate insurance, taxation, mortgaging and more. If you are also interested in economics, finance and law, you can draw on your geography expertise to function as a real estate appraiser.
Where your geography degree takes you depends only on where you want to go. Thanks to the increasing applications of geography — especially the use of GIS tech — you have a wide variety of career options after you graduate. Now that you have a better idea of what you can do with your degree, you can begin working toward your dreams by applying to graduate school, making professional connections and more.
About the Author:
Michale Ben is a freelance writer and nutritionist from Nevada, who has written on behalf of a range of clients including the Live Strong Network, and Demand Media. In addition to writing about a range of topics, he enjoys playing basketball and cooking in his spare time.