What do Geographers Do?
Geographers study the Earth and all its physical attributes and inhabitants. As a geographer, you may work in many different areas, such as community planning or environmental management, and you may also work to discover the diplomatic and cultural influences on a region and its political borders. Geographers may also conduct research within a specific region, studying certain plants, soils, or animals, and uncovering the connections between the people, the vegetation, and the land itself. There is projected to be a 29% increase in geographer positions across the country within the next decade, with nearly 1,000 jobs available to qualified individuals.
Geographers Skills and Abilities
As a geographer, you will need to be skilled in reading, understanding, and creating your own maps. You will also need these cartography skills to coordinate excavation projects or data analysis expeditions, and to provide geological and geographical information to businesses, professional agencies, or governmental organizations. Geographers must also have excellent listening and speaking skills as well as a professional writing ability, since you will be working with other individuals and agencies and you must be able to convey your findings in a way that others can understand, whether in a written report or as a presentation at a professional conference.
Specific jobs and tasks for geographers will vary depending on your scientific discipline and the project at hand. The following are duties that geographers may be responsible for completing in a given work day:
- Conduct research in an area to better understand land use, climate history, and physical composition
- Create maps and compile data to use for reference and to share with other agencies
- Provide advice and share information with policy makers, engineers, city planners, and other individuals
- Stay up-to-date in your field by reading literature and attending professional conferences and seminars
- Write and present data reports and research papers to colleagues, administrators, or other professional departments or at geography conferences
- Write and submit paperwork for grant proposals or project plans
Geographers Tools and Technology
Geographers must be familiar with the tools needed to take samples of land, plants, and animals, and then study these samples. These tools include anemometers, wind direction sensors, soil sample machinery, microscopes, sediment traps and samplers, and water samplers. Geographers accumulate data on land, air, and plant formations from maps, laser scans, air photos, and satellite images using technology such as image analysis and remote sensing programs. Geographers also use technology such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to analyze, map, and understand existing data.
Education and Training for Geographers
To become a geographer, you need to have at least a bachelor’s degree, although earning a master’s degree can not only improve your job skills but it may also help you find a more qualified position. Some individuals choose to go even further in their education and pursue a doctoral or professional degree in geography.
Your annual salary as a geographer can vary depending on your location as well as your level of experience and education. The median salary for geographers nationwide is about $76,000 per year, however the bottom 10% of geographers bring home about $43,000 per year, while the top 10% can make over $100,000 annually. Geographers in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington take home the highest wages across the nation, as the median salary for all three states is over $80,000 per year.
Geographers Jobs by Geography
Geographers are in high demand in states where they are needed to help facilitate and plan for community growth and development. Employment trends indicate that Utah, Florida, and Kansas will see the most job opportunities available for geographers in the next ten years, with a 50% increase projected for Florida and Kansas and a 100% employment increase projected for Utah.