What Can I Do With A Degree In Geography?

"I’m in my first year, and all the classes that really appeal to me seem to be geography classes. I’m in two of them, and there’s three more that I have my eye on for next semester. I was thinking I was taking these as electives, because they’re probably useless in the real world, right? But I’d really like to keep taking in them, and that would mean majoring in geography. Everyone looks at me oddly when I announce my intention, because they don’t think I’m going to find a job after college. Are they right, or is there something I can do with this degree that I want?"

asked by Marsha from Minot, ND

A geography degree probably is not the most practical degree you can get but there are some opportunities out there. Does your school offer more than one type of geography degree? A lot of schools offer a Bachelors of Arts in Geography or a Bachelors of Science. If you get the B.S., you will be focusing more on physical geography and how it relates to natural sciences like geology. If you get the B.A. in the field, you will be focusing on how human beings are distributed geographically, and how geography impacts human life (more of a sociological study).

As you can tell, there is a big difference between the two. The jobs available after you graduate thus will have a lot to do with what you focused on when you were studying.

If you got a B.S. or you focused mostly on classes involving geology, climate, and the like, you will be better suited to working in a scientific field. You might find a job as a cartographer, climatologist, or environmental manager.

If you focus more on the human aspect of things or you earn a B.A. in geography, you will probably look for a job after school which allows you to put that knowledge into action. You might work as an urban planner, transportation manager, or GIS specialist. Sometimes geographers also conduct research, particularly those who go on to teach geography to others. So a teaching job is something else to think about.

Your next question is probably how much opportunity there is in geography in real life terms. There is good news and bad news here. The bad news is that in 2010, there were only about 1,600 geographers in the United States.

By 2020, the BLS projects 600 new openings. The good news however is that the growth rate represented by those numbers is 35%, which is much faster than average. So this is a swiftly growing field, but still one with only a small number of jobs in it overall.

To get a great job as a geographer, you will definitely need to make sure you go the extra mile. You will probably want to pursue an advanced degree, and also decide upon a specialization which is going to have an important place in the future, like GIS or urban planning. Good luck pursuing your dreams in geography.

Career Spotlight: Geographer

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