Is becoming a geographer right for me?

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What do geographers do?
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Still unsure if becoming a geographer is the right career path? to find out if this career is right for you. Perhaps you are well-suited to become a geographer or another similar career!

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How to become a Geographer

Becoming a geographer requires a combination of education, practical experience, and a passion for the field. Here's a detailed guide on how to pursue a career as a geographer:

  • Obtain a Bachelor's Degree: Start by earning a Bachelor's Degree in Geography or a related field. Look for accredited universities or colleges that offer geography programs. Coursework typically includes physical geography, human geography, GIS (Geographic Information Systems), remote sensing, cartography, and environmental studies.
  • Consider Specializations: Geography is a broad field, and it's helpful to identify areas of specialization that interest you. Some common specializations include urban geography, environmental geography, GIS and spatial analysis, cultural geography, and economic geography. Choosing a specialization can help focus your studies and future career path.
  • Pursue Advanced Education (Optional): While a bachelor's degree is sufficient for entry-level positions, you may consider pursuing a Master's or Ph.D. in Geography or a related field for more advanced roles or teaching positions. Advanced degrees can also offer opportunities for research and specialization.
  • Gain Practical Experience: Practical experience is crucial to becoming a successful geographer. Look for internships, research assistant positions, or volunteer opportunities related to geography. These experiences can provide valuable hands-on training, exposure to real-world applications of geography, and networking opportunities.
  • Develop Technical Skills: Geographers frequently use GIS software and other technological tools for data analysis, mapping, and visualization. Familiarize yourself with popular GIS software like ArcGIS, QGIS, or other relevant tools. Additionally, developing skills in statistical analysis, programming (e.g., Python), and data visualization can enhance your marketability.
  • Join Professional Organizations: Joining professional organizations such as the American Association of Geographers (AAG) or regional geographer associations can offer networking opportunities, access to conferences and workshops, and the latest research in the field. These organizations can also provide mentorship and guidance for your career.
  • Build a Portfolio: As you gain experience, start building a portfolio showcasing your projects, research, and GIS mapping skills. Include samples of maps, reports, and other relevant work. A strong portfolio can make you stand out when applying for jobs or further education.
  • Seek Employment: Begin your job search by looking for entry-level positions in government agencies, consulting firms, non-profit organizations, research institutions, or private companies. Job titles may vary and can include GIS analyst, cartographer, environmental planner, or research assistant. Utilize online job boards, professional networks, and geography-specific job websites to find opportunities.
  • Continue Learning and Networking: Geography is an evolving field, so it's important to stay updated on the latest research, technology, and industry trends. Attend conferences, workshops, and webinars to expand your knowledge and network with other professionals in the field.
  • Professional Certification (Optional): While not mandatory, obtaining professional certification, such as the Geographic Information Systems Professional (GISP) certification offered by the GIS Certification Institute, can demonstrate your expertise and commitment to the field.

In the field of geography, there are several certifications that can enhance your professional credentials and demonstrate your expertise.

  • Geographic Information Systems Professional (GISP): The GISP certification is offered by the GIS Certification Institute (GISCI) and is designed to validate the skills and knowledge of GIS professionals. It requires a combination of education, professional experience, and contributions to the GIS community. GISP certification is widely recognized and can be beneficial for geographers specializing in GIS and spatial analysis.
  • Certified Photogrammetrist (CP): The American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) offers the CP certification for professionals involved in the field of photogrammetry and remote sensing. Photogrammetry is the science of making measurements from photographs, and remote sensing involves the collection and interpretation of data from a distance, such as satellite imagery or aerial photography.
  • Certified Floodplain Manager (CFM): The CFM certification is provided by the Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM). It is designed for professionals involved in floodplain management, including geographers working in fields such as hazard mitigation, environmental planning, or emergency management. CFM certification demonstrates expertise in floodplain management techniques, policies, and regulations.
  • Professional Wetland Scientist (PWS): The Society of Wetland Scientists (SWS) offers the PWS certification for professionals involved in wetland science and management. Geographers specializing in wetland ecology, conservation, or restoration may find this certification valuable. PWS certification requires a combination of education, experience, and contributions to the field.
  • Certified Urban and Regional Planner (AICP): The American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) offers the AICP certification for urban and regional planners. While not specific to geography, this certification can be relevant for geographers working in the field of urban geography, transportation planning, land use planning, or regional development. AICP certification requires a combination of education, experience, and passing a comprehensive examination.