What Does A Geographer Do?

"I have always wanted a career that would allow me to study the earth more intimately. I think I would be able to do this by being a geographer so I want to learn more about this occupation. What does a geographer do?"

asked by Blake D. from Williston, North Dakota

Geographers are professionals who dedicate their time, effort and skills to a more extensive study of the earth and the people that live in its various regions. They learn more about the land and its features, both on a local and global scale as well as the political, social and cultural norms and how they are linked to geography.

Majority of the geographers in the United States worked for the federal government. In their research, they obtain geographic data through the observations they gather in the field, photographs they take and the maps available. They also get valuable data from satellite imagery and government censuses taken. They also do surveys and interviews and perform statistical analysis in their research.

Their task also entails making and altering representations of geographic data like maps and graphs based on the results of their research. To be able to analyze the data they get, they employ various technologies. These include geographic information systems (GIS), global positioning systems (GPS) and remote sensing. GIS enables geographers to discover connections and trends in the geographic data gathered and give a visual presentation through maps and charts.

Geographers then compile, interpret and write their research findings. They also present them to target audiences and groups that will be able to benefit from it. The information they gather from their research can be used to guide and advice companies, governments and even the general public on various issues that are related to geography. These can cover such topics as home planning, managing landfills, making roads and responding to disasters. They may even use research to help companies determine the most appropriate marketing strategies.

The more specific features of the work of geographers are also dictated by their area of specialization in the field. Physical geographers look into the physical features of the natural environment and determine how land forms, plants, soil, water, climate and others will affect people living in a particular area. They may be tasked with determining the location of a natural resource in a particular area, mapping it and studying how it could possibly affect those living around it.

Human geographers, on the other hand, look at human activity and its effect to the physical environment.

For instance, they may look into the connection between geography and culture or how location affects the distribution of resources. They may study the occurrence of disease in a particular geographic area or how political processes and structures are affected by geography. Human geographers may also study the effect of human activities to the environment, particularly such pressing issues as deforestation, climate change and desertification.

There are also human geographers who confine their studies to cities and urban areas and focus on how geographic factors will impact those living in large metropolitan areas. There are also those who enlarge their scope of studies to other geographic areas, such as an entire continent.

It is common for geographers to collaborate with other professionals to do their tasks. They often consult and work together with civil engineers, urban planners and legislators to carry out work involving public infrastructure projects in a particular place.

Career Spotlight: Geographer



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