Careers in Geography
Geography is an exciting and wide-ranging field of study. Whether focusing on the human, physical or technical fields geography graduates go on to rewarding careers and enriched lives. While there are not many job titles that are "geographer," there are many types of positions that fit well with a degree in geography.
Read on to find out about the specific subfields of geography, a small sample of the
job titles geographers may find themselves in, an explanation of the requirements
of a geography degree at Grossmont College, and helpful links to further information.
Geography has a strong link to the natural sciences through physical geography. Courses that may be offered in this field include climatology, meteorology, oceanography, geomorphology (landforms), soils, biogeography (distribution and ecology of plants), zoogeography (distribution and ecology of animals), and natural resource management. Courses in physical geography importantly integrate earth processes with the human use of the earth. For instance, examining agriculture in relation to its dependence upon such physical processes as climate, weather, and the formation and erosion of soils.
Those with a good background in physical geography are well prepared to deal with issues of climatology, resources management, environmental regulation and research, emergency management and more. Physical geographers also study the impact of such natural hazards as hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes.
This concentration focuses on the aspects of geography that relate to different cultures,
with an emphasis on cultural origins and movement and the cultural characteristics
of regions (e.g., language, religion, ethnicity, politics, historical development,
agricultural methods, settlement patterns, and quality of life). Cultural ecology--the
ways in which humans have interacted with their cultural and natural environment at
various times--is also included.
Cultural geographers often try to reconstruct past environments, and to do so they must be equally skilled in library research, field observation, and the interpretation of cultural artifacts. Historical geographers are interested in recreating the geography of past times.
Courses in this area include historical geography, cultural geography, cultural ecology,
human geography, human use of the earth, and humanity and nature. Many cultural and
human geographers are area specialists as well, which means that they focus their
attention on a specific region, such as Latin America, Europe, or Asia. They become
area experts and come to understand the way of life in particular countries. They
often complement their major courses in a foreign language, anthropology, history,
economics, or comparative political systems. Having done so, they bring real expertise
and understanding to issues of U.S. foreign policy and to international business.
Economic geography is concerned with the location and distribution of economic activity.
It focuses on the location of industries and retail and wholesale businesses, on transportation
and trade, and on the changing value of real estate. Courses in economic geography
may cover such topics as transportation, agriculture, industrial location, world trade,
and the spatial organization and function of business activity. Students who have
a strong interest in economic geography will be likely to see global interdependence
as a focus of their academic program.
Geographers often work as planners to ensure that communities develop in an orderly way, along with the services necessary to support them. Planners must be able to develop building plans for subdivisions and housing projects. They need to understand all factors that affect the value of land and real estate. Planning is a rapidly expanding field, and geographers are filling a great many jobs. Planning courses teach students how to prepare master plans that will benefit neighborhoods, communities, cities, and regions. Support courses include material on the geography of population, transportation, social services, utilities, and solid-waste disposal systems. Other topics include resource planning, land-use planning, and the delivery of municipal services (which involves the planning of police patrol routes, the location of firehouses and emergency medical services, and ways of making school bus routes shorter and more efficient).
Thousands of geographers have jobs involving maps. Maps are essential. They are used by planners, engineers, utility companies, state agencies, construction companies, surveyors, architects, and ordinary citizens. One of the greatest growth areas is the use of computers to generate maps and store map-related information. Geospatial technologies (geographic information systems, computer mapping, GPS, etc.). is a high-growth industry and reaching $35 billion in annual revenues in 2007, up from $5 billion in 2002. Geospatial technologies are one of the three biggest emerging fields identified by the Department of Labor, and they are providing 75,000 new job hires per year. A student with these unique technical skills is marketable in every field and industry.
The American Association of Geographers (AAG) is a non-profit scientific and educational society aimed at advancing the understanding, study, and importance of geography and related fields. Its headquarters is located in Washington, D.C.
UK's learned society and professional body for geography, founded in 1830 for the advancement of geographical sciences. Today, it is the leading centre for geographers and geographical learning.
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