How To Become A Geographer
The earth is a fascinating place. Even if we call it our home, there are a lot of things we don’t know about it. If studying about the earth, its features and peoples interest you then a career as a geographer is something you might want to consider.
In this profession, you will be able to get, create and alter geographic data using satellite imagery, maps and observations in the field. You will be using geographic information systems, global positioning systems, remote sensing and new technologies to perform your job.
After gathering data and doing the analyses, you will write your report and present your findings to provide the public, governments and organizations with relevant advice. Since the jobs entails synthesizing the information derived from various sources, you must be a critical thinker who is able to quickly analyze different sets of data. You must also be a good researcher and writer and must be adept at using computers.
Why Become A Geographer
There are a number of reasons to become a geographer. One of these is the fact that it gives you the chance to explore and understand the world in which you move in. In all likelihood, you’ll be asked to travel to other locations and interact with people of various cultures. Since a lot of geographers are also employed with the federal government, it’s a very stable career over the long term. The wages are also above average.
Studying the earth, gathering information about the physical world in which we live in and traveling to different places—all these are part of the work of geographers. For those who would like to explore new places and learn more about the earth, this is one of the most fulfilling careers that they can engage in.
Geographer Work Environment
An estimated 49 percent of geographers work for the federal government. The rest are scattered in companies providing architectural, engineering and similar services, educational institutions or were self-employed. Geographers go to the field to gather data so that means a lot of work outdoors where they are exposed to the elements. Travel to foreign countries and remote corners of the world are also part and parcel of the job.
Geographers received a mean annual wage of $75,070 in May 2013 or a median wage of $35.94 per hour based on data from the Occupational Employment and Wages report of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is much higher than the pay received by anthropologists and archeologists who received $61,420 and historians who got $60,010.
Average Geographer Annual Salary
The average annual salary for geographers is $76,790 a year. Salaries start at $48,020 a year and go up to $104,710 a year.
Average Geographer Hourly Wage
The average hourly wage for a geographer is $36.92. Hourly wages are between $23.09 and $50.34 an hour.
Stats were based out of 1,400 employed geographers in the United States.
Highest Paying States For Geographers
- 1. Maryland $40.38 / hr $84,000 / yr
- 2. Washington $39.47 / hr $82,100 / yr
- 3. Colorado $39.22 / hr $81,590 / yr
- 4. California $38.28 / hr $79,630 / yr
- 5. Oregon $37.96 / hr $78,960 / yr
Top Paying Cities For Geographers
- 1. Denver, CO $40.58 / hr$84,420 / yr
- 2. Atlanta, GA $37.53 / hr$78,070 / yr
- 3. Baltimore, MD $37.46 / hr$77,910 / yr
- 4. Austin, TX $30.75 / hr$63,960 / yr
- 5. Oklahoma City, OK $27.76 / hr$57,740 / yr
Data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Geographer Career Outlook
The job outlook of geographers is quite good. For the ten-year period covering 2012 to 2022, employment of geographers is expected to grow 29 percent. This is much faster than the average for all over jobs.
This will only result to about 500 new openings in that time frame because this is a small profession. As a result, there will be intense competitions for the jobs that will be available. Geographers who hold postgraduate degrees, are experts in a particular area and have experience with geographic information systems and other technologies have better chances of getting hired.
A bachelor’s degree in geography may get one hired at the entry-level, particularly in the federal government. Those seeking positions in private companies or higher positions in government typically need a master’s degree at the very least. Those who intend to teach the course in postsecondary institutions need a doctoral degree.
Although the educational preparation to become a full-fledged geographer requires a postgraduate degree, the profession does provide good pay and job stability since many geographers are hired by the federal government.
Most positions also want geographers to demonstrate proficiency in geographic information systems. Even if this isn’t a mandatory requirement, being certified as a GIS professional by the GIS Certification Institute will add to one’s credentials and may even help those without advanced degrees get hired.