Geographers essential career information:
- 2011 median pay: $74,760
- 2011, number of jobs: 1,510
- Employment growth forecast, 2010-2020: 35 percent
- Entry-level education requirements: Bachelor’s degree
Geographers; what they do:
Geographers study the land and features that make up the planet, collaborating information people must know in order to keep the planet alive and functioning properly. Geographer careers also include studying people, and political and cultural structures as they connect with geography.
A geographer career includes gathering data in a variety of ways, including field observations, maps, photographs, satellite imagery, censuses, surveys interviews, focus groups, and statistical analysis. A geographer career includes working with geographic information system (GIS) technology to collect data. They also frequently teach others how to use GIS.
Occasionally geographers combine geographic data with data from another field, such as economics, health, the environment, or politics. Geographer careers include creating maps, graphs, diagrams, and other visuals representing the data, as well as writing reports detailing their findings and conclusions.
A variety of specialties exist for people interested in a geographer career, including: physical geographers, human/cultural geographers, economic geographers, environmental geographers, medical geographers, political geographers, regional geographers, and urban geographers.
Geographers job titles:
- Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Analyst
- Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Program Director
- Earth Observations Chief Scientist (NASA)
- Environmental Affairs Corporate Director
- Environmental Scientist
- Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Geographer
- Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Physical Scientist
- Research Coordinator
Geographers Education, Certification and License Requirements
A small percentage of entry-level geographer positions only require a Bachelor of Geography degree, as long as an individual also has previous experience with geographic information systems (GIS). The majority of geographer careers, however, begin with a Master of Geography degree and usually previous work experience.
Geographer programs cover subjects such as:
- Physical geography
- Human geography
- Remote sensing
- Geographic information systems
- Real estate
Geographers may obtain certification as a GIS professional through the GIS Certification Institute. Although certification is voluntary, it is highly recommended, as most employers prefer applicants with GIS knowledge and experience.
Geographers Job Outlook
Forecast: 35 percent employment growth from 2010 to 2020 for geographers, much faster than the average for all occupations. Since it’s a small overall occupation, the high employment growth only equates to about 600 new jobs in a decade.
The professional, scientific, and technical services industry has the largest demand for geographers. The industry utilizes geographers for advice on subjects such as land use, building or infrastructure location, and environmental impact.
Businesses focusing on improving environmental and sustainable practices hire geographers.
- 2011 median annual wage: $74,760
- 2011, workers at the 75th percentile annual wage: $89,440
- 2011, workers at the 25% percentile annual wage: $57,150
- Federal government
- Professional, scientific, and technical services
- Colleges, universities, and professional schools
- State and local government