Best Careers for Geography Graduates
"What are you going to do with a bachelor's in geography?"
Most geography majors will hear this question at least once during their studies: from their parents, friends, colleagues—maybe even from themselves.
But although geography sometimes gets a bad rap for being a "useless" degree, in truth, the opposite is true. In this wide-ranging, interdisciplinary major, students develop essential transferrable skills in research, math, statistics, IT, and data analysis. They learn to work with databases, spreadsheets, computer cartography software, and GIS technologies. Students leave the program with extensive experience managing their own time, working with teams, thinking creatively, and solving problems—all of which set them up for success in a wide range of careers.
As with students in any field, what's next for a geography major depends on their personal interests, academic strengths, previous work experience, and professional goals. But equally important is the kind of geography they prefer. Students of physical geography tend to favor jobs in the natural sciences, exploring all aspects of the earth's physical properties and processes. Those in human geography, on the other hand, skew towards the social sciences. They often end up in jobs that focus on issues related to human cultures or communities.
Whatever their specialization, the future is bright for geography students—both within the field of geography and beyond.
This article will be covering the following careers:
|Career||Avg Salary||Satisfaction||Your Match|
|Wildlife Enforcement Officer||$59k||??|
|Market Research Analyst||$76k||3.0/5|
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1. Wildlife Enforcement Officer
Wildlife enforcement officers—or "conservation" officers—are professional protectors of wildlife and the environment. They patrol lakes, parks, and other natural areas to enforce environmental regulations, such as fishing or hunting laws. They also answer questions from visitors about wildlife, habitats, and ecosystems. Geography graduates who enjoyed the sustainability-related courses in their degree can truly shine in this meaningful career.
Wildlife Enforcement Officer
A wildlife enforcement officer is a law enforcement professional who specializes in enforcing wildlife laws and regulations.
2. Transportation Planner
Transportation planners work with government agencies to design and organize transit routes that allow communities to thrive and grow. For example, they might develop a new series of bike paths or help introduce a more affordable bus system. Transportation planners also do a lot of public communication: sharing information about route changes, system overhauls, novel regulations, and more. Geography majors, with their diverse skills in research, analysis, writing, and planning, are ideal candidates for this challenging work.
A transportation planner specializes in developing and implementing transportation plans, policies, and projects for communities, cities, and regions.
3. Environmental Consultant
For students who focused on physical geography during their studies, a career in environmental consulting can be very rewarding. Environmental consultants work with commercial and government clients to ensure their projects meet sustainability standards. They assess the environmental risks of clients' plans and proposals, and offer advice for how to execute them in a less harmful way. A master's in environmental science is required, but for the right person, the payoff is worth the effort.
An environmental consultant specializes in providing expertise and advice on environmental matters to businesses, organizations, or government agencies.
4. Landscape Architect
A highly interdisciplinary career, landscape architecture combines aspects of both human and physical geography. Experts in this field design outdoor spaces such as gardens, college campuses, playgrounds, and public parks. They use their awareness of nature and culture to create environments that are both functional and attractive. Although a master's degree in landscape architecture is required to enter this career, a geography degree is a great foundation.
A landscape architect designs and plans outdoor spaces to achieve aesthetic, environmental, and functional goals.
Cartography, or mapmaking, can present bright opportunities for technically inclined geography graduates. In this detail-oriented career, they'll have the chance to work out in the field—collecting and verifying geographical information—as well as in an office. In addition to designing maps, they also analyze data such as precipitation patterns, population density, demographic characteristics, and more.
A cartographer specializes in the creation, design, and production of maps.
6. Tour Guide
Tour guides reveal aspects of the natural and cultural environment to their clients, drawing on elements of both physical and human geography to make their surroundings come to life. They work in a range of settings, leading tours of cities, forests, ancient ruins, museums, and more. Especially in the outdoor tour industry, knowledge of the land and its weather patterns is a major asset. Geography majors with a social, enthusiastic outlook can truly thrive in this career.
A tour guide provides assistance, information, and guidance to individuals or groups of tourists during their travels.
7. Urban Planner
Urban planners strive to create communities that are safe, functional, and enjoyable. These talented professionals draw from census data, economic and environmental studies, and market research to develop new land use plans and programs. They also help revitalize facilities that have become run-down or irrelevant, bringing new life to communities in need. Although this career requires additional education, an undergraduate degree in geography is an excellent foundation to build from.
An urban planner works to create and implement plans for the development of cities, towns, and other urban areas.
8. Market Research Analyst
It may not be the most obvious next step, but a career in market research can be a perfect match for a human geography major. Geography students develop strong research and data analysis skills during their studies, as well as an awareness of how social groups function and grow. As market research analysts, they can draw on these qualities to help companies understand and reach their clients more effectively. By designing customer surveys, conducting market research, and analyzing economic data, they provide guidance on what products to sell and how best to promote them.
Market Research Analyst
A market research analyst specializes in studying market conditions to identify potential sales opportunities for a product or service.
Surveyors work with engineers, urban planners, mapmakers, and architects to help plan and build the groundwork and infrastructure for construction projects. They literally "survey" the land upon which developers plan to build, making precise measurements, updating boundary lines, and preparing sites for construction. In doing so, they help builders work more safely and sustainably, playing an essential role in the future of any city, township, or county.
Surveyors are responsible for measuring and mapping the physical features of land, properties, and construction sites.
Finally, many geography students go on to do exactly what they studied. As professional geographers, they can use their training to conduct research for governments, scientific organizations, colleges, universities, and other clients. Geographers study everything from natural phenomena, such as land features and weather patterns, to cultural structures, such as social inequalities and other demographic data. Many travel for their work, doing fieldwork in remote locations or foreign countries. Multi-faceted, mentally stimulating, and engaging, this is a true dream job for many geography students.