If you’ve made a mental map of your neighborhood, or learned how to use public transportation, you’ve practiced the observation and reasoning skills used by geographers. These scientists study Earth’s features and the relationship of human activity to the planet. Many geographers do fieldwork to gather data, and study maps, photographs, and census reports for their research. They also create maps and geographic images, which may be used to guide decision making related to land use and groups of people. Geographers usually focus on either Earth’s physical aspects… such as landforms, water, and natural resources… or on human geography… which explores the relationship of human activity to the physical environment. For example, using satellite imagery, a human geographer might research the impact of conflict on a region— its effects on water supply… farming practices… and emigration. Geographers rely on geographic information systems software —or GIS— and satellite imagery to collect data they need for their reports. Most geographers work standard, full-time business hours. Some geographers travel to the region they are studying, which can mean visiting foreign countries and remote locations. Geographers need a bachelor’s degree for most entry-level positions, including jobs in the federal government. GIS skills and geography knowledge are used in the work of surveyors, urban and regional planners, and geoscientists. A master’s degree and related work experience are typically required for more advanced positions.
What they do:
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.
On the job, you would:
Create and modify maps, graphs, or diagrams, using geographical information software and related equipment, and principles of cartography, such as coordinate systems, longitude, latitude, elevation, topography, and map scales.
Analyze geographic distributions of physical and cultural phenomena on local, regional, continental, or global scales.
Write and present reports of research findings.
Math and Science
sociology and anthropology
Arts and Humanities
history and archeology
Education and Training
teaching and course design
Engineering and Technology
computers and electronics
reading work related information
talking to others
noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it
People and Technology Systems
thinking about the pros and cons of different options and picking the best one
figuring out how a system should work and how changes in the future will affect it
communicate by speaking
communicate by writing
Ideas and Logic
make general rules or come up with answers from lots of detailed information
use rules to solve problems
add, subtract, multiply, or divide
choose the right type of math to solve a problem
People interested in this work like activities that include ideas, thinking, and figuring things out.
They do well at jobs that need:
Attention to Detail
You might use software like this on the job:
Map creation software
ESRI ArcGIS software
Geographic information system GIS software
Analytical or scientific software
IBM SPSS Statistics
bachelor's degree or master's degree usually needed
Get started on your career:
New job opportunities are less likely in the future.