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What Do Geographer Do?

Occupation Description Study the nature and use of areas of the Earth’s surface, relating and interpreting interactions of physical and cultural phenomena. Conduct research on physical aspects of a region, including land forms, climates, soils, plants, and animals, and conduct research on the spatial implications of human activities within a given area, including social characteristics, economic activities, and political organization, as well as researching interdependence between regions at scales ranging from local to global.

Life As a Geographer: What Do They Do?

  • Collect data on physical characteristics of specified areas, such as geological formations, climates, and vegetation, using surveying or meteorological equipment.
  • Study the economic, political, and cultural characteristics of a specific region’s population.
  • Conduct field work at outdoor sites.
  • Provide geographical information systems support to the private and public sectors.
  • Locate and obtain existing geographic information databases.
  • Gather and compile geographic data from sources including censuses, field observations, satellite imagery, aerial photographs, and existing maps.

Skills Needed to be a Geographer

Geographers state the following job skills are important in their day-to-day work.

Writing: Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Reading Comprehension: Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Active Listening: Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Judgment and Decision Making: Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

Types of Geographer Jobs

  • Geographic Information Systems Analyst (GIS Analyst)
  • Geographer
  • Natural Resources Specialist
  • Geographic Information Systems Program Director (GIS Program Director)
  • Physical Geographer

Job Outlook for Geographers

In the United States, there were 1,500 jobs for Geographer in 2016. New jobs are being produced at a rate of 13.3% which is above the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 200 new jobs for Geographer by 2026. The BLS estimates 200 yearly job openings in this field.

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The states with the most job growth for Geographer are Oregon, Missouri, and Georgia. Watch out if you plan on working in Wisconsin, Washington, or North Carolina. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

Salary for a Geographer

The typical yearly salary for Geographers is somewhere between $50,720 and $109,900.

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Geographers who work in California, Georgia, or Colorado, make the highest salaries.

How much do Geographers make in different U.S. states?

State Annual Mean Salary
Arizona $69,730
California $85,530
Colorado $84,380
Georgia $79,030
Louisiana $81,160
Maryland $84,990
Minnesota $67,820
Missouri $76,320
Oregon $78,630
Texas $65,000
Washington $83,530

What Tools & Technology do Geographers Use?

Although they’re not necessarily needed for all jobs, the following technologies are used by many Geographers:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Office
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Autodesk AutoCAD
  • Adobe Systems Adobe Photoshop
  • The MathWorks MATLAB
  • SAS
  • IBM SPSS Statistics
  • Geographic information system GIS software
  • Minitab
  • Adobe Systems Adobe Dreamweaver
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer
  • ESRI ArcView
  • Wolfram Research Mathematica
  • Corel CorelDraw Graphics Suite
  • ESRI ArcInfo
  • Leica Geosystems ERDAS IMAGINE
  • ESRI ArcGIS software
  • Golden Software Surfer

How to Become a Geographer

Individuals working as a Geographer have obtained the following education levels:

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How many years of work experience do I need?

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Where Geographers Work

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The table below shows some of the most common industries where those employed in this career field work.

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Other Jobs You May be Interested In

Those thinking about becoming a Geographer might also be interested in the following careers:

Are you already one of the many Geographer in the United States? If you’re thinking about changing careers, these fields are worth exploring:

References:

Image Credit: Couleur via public domain (CC0)

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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