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Geography is not only a versatile topic to study, but it can also be the basis of a rewarding career. Geography careers can be divided in to two main groups: those that involve human geography, and those that deal with physical geography.
Human geography involves the study and recording of how people function in the space they inhabit. An individual with a degree in human geography could find a career in urban planning, marketing, transportation, real estate, or tourism.
A person who has a degree in physical geography would most likely qualify for a career in land planning, forestry planning, the study of wetlands, water resources, weather forecasting, and land management. They could also be involved in urban planning, or the study of land forms, soils, water, climates, and the patterns of climates. Cartography, which in the most simple terms is the study of maps, is also a field that a geographer might consider.
Many geography careers begin within the local, state, or federal government. Non-profit organizations are another source for finding a geography career. Because geography involves urban planning, for example, a person can find a job at a for profit company or corporation that deals with various aspects of real estate development or land development.
Anyone with an interest in the environment and how people affect the environment might really enjoy a career and find great satisfaction in geography. Geographers study things such as groundwater pollution, deforestation, desertification, and global warming.
There are also geography careers in various areas of education. A person who holds at least a master's degree in the study of geography could work as an instructor at a community or two-year college. Those with a PhD in geography or a similar discipline might find opportunities as a college or university professor.
Many students of geography find their niche while they are completing field work for their respective programs of study while still in college. Internships can also be very helpful for geography majors, who often work as interns for public agencies. Internships are often known to lead to geography careers.
Those who work as geographers often use computer software programs and special systems, such as GIS, which stands for Geographic Information Systems. GIS helps geographers analyze data and find the best solutions for their land and resource needs. Therefore, some interest in technology and computer systems is helpful. Some geographers also have the opportunity to work in a paleoecology lab, which is used to research and track climate change and changes in the environment.
Other geography careers can be found under the titles of GIS analyst, conservation director, data manager for national parks, and environmental compliance specialist. Further information about geography careers, and all things geography for that matter, are provided by the American Association of Geographers (AAG). The AAG is comprised of members from around the world who share information about geography, and the organization produces two scholarly journals.
What are some more environmentally focused geography careers?
I'm thinking of getting a degree in physical geography, but I want to have a career that is more environmentally oriented.
Are there any physical geography careers like that out there, or should I consider a different major?
Thanks for this article -- you have no idea the kind of flak my boyfriend took when he decided to major in political geography. People think that it's just some sort of off degree, like underwater basket weaving or something.
I can't tell you how many times I've had to give people the whole "geography-related careers" speech to reassure them that yes, there are actually geography jobs out there.
Very well done!
Very informative article. I had no idea that you could start in so many careers with a geography degree.
That makes me feel a little better about my son's going off to college to get a geography degree -- career-wise, at least!
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