Top-notch Careers to Practice with a Geography Degree

Geography is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of Earth. It is an all-encompassing discipline that seeks an understanding of Earth and its human and natural complexities—not merely where objects are, but also how they have changed and come to be.

Traditionally, geography has been associated with cartography and place names. Although many geographers are trained in toponymyOpens in new window and cartographyOpens in new window, this is not their main preoccupation.

Geographers study the space and the temporal database distribution of phenomena, processes, and features as well as the interaction of humans and their environment.

Because space and place affect a variety of topics, such as economics, health, climate, plants and animals, geography is highly interdisciplinary. The interdisciplinary nature of the geographical approach depends on attentiveness to the relationship between physical and humanphenomena and its spatial patterns.

Scope of Geography

Geography offers several career options with numerous specializations.

  • Cartography — Geographers who specialize in this sub-category of geography make maps, charts, globes, and models.
  • Survey — Geographers can specialize in surveying, either by joining the state's survey departments or private organizations. Surveyors map the surface of the earth through mathematical observations and field work.
  • Urban and Regional Planning — This specialty is concerned with planning, housing, and development projects with respect to their location and utilization of available land-space. There are degree courses available in this stream.
  • Town Planning — Town planners are employed by public and private organizations engaged in urban planning and design and by NGOs involved in rural development projects. Many universities offer diploma courses in the specialized field of town planning.
  • Remote Sensing — Studies of quickly changing phenomena such as floods, draught and forest fires, etc. Remote sensing satellites provide a variety of information about the earth’s surface.
  • Climate Change Analysis — As a professional in this field, geographers are required to analyse scientific data and conduct research concerning climate and climate change and make prediction regarding the future of Earth’s climate and weather.
  • Geospatial Analyst — A geospatial analyst analyses geographical data, designs databases, uses this data in GIS applications for a wide array of sectors including military, real estate, environment, and government.

Depending on their area of specialization, geographers may be employed as forest managers or in agricultural or economic institutes or as demographers in government and research organizations. A geography background is also an asset for careers in travel and tourism, particularly for travel Journalism. You can also be employed as climatologists, geomorphologists, GIS specialists, and hydrologists.

Required Skills

  • The ability to view problems from a number of angles.
  • The ability to write a professional standard document, as well as effective verbal communication.
  • The ability to work to deadlines gained from projects and fieldwork.
  • The ability to work to deadlines gained from projects and fieldwork.
  • The independence gainedfrom working abroad and producing a reportin foreign conditions.
  • The ability to work in a group gained from fieldwork or project.
  • An analytical approach to people and their environment, which means that geographers should also have developed an objective aptitude for management.

Geographers are scientists who study about the physical details of the environment, its effects on human and wildlife, weather and climate patterns, economics and culture. The modern geographer’s scope extends far beyond describing the earth.

Physical and Human Geography are the major branches of Geography which are closely inter-connected. Also known as Geosystems or Physiography, Physical geography is the study of physical features of earth such as rivers, landforms, climate, hazards and many more that occupies the atmosphere, biosphere and geosphere. It is further subdivided into geomorphology, hydrology, coastal geography, oceanography, quaternary science, landscape ecology, climatology and environmental geography.

Human geography deals with the study of human, political, economic, social and cultural activities. The subdivision of human geography includes economic geography, cultural geography, political geography, health geography, urban geography, historical geography, marketing geography and social geography.

Geography provides numerous options for those who have a keen interest in subjects like countries, people, economy, climate etc. Remote Sensing is the science that acquires information about an object, area or anything, without direct contact with the objects. The informations are transferred with the help of electromagnetic radiation (EMR) which is a form of energy that reveals its presence by the observable effects it produces when it strikes the matter.

GIS is a computer based information system which is used to digitally represent and analyze the geographic features present on the earth surface and the events that take place on it. In GIS data collection, GPS (Global Positioning System) technology which uses satellites and computers to compute positions anywhere on earth with unequalled accuracy and flexibility, has tremendous amount of applications.

Eligibility and Course Areas

Graduation in Geography is the basic qualification needed to get into the field of geography. But for enhanced career prospects, masters and doctoral degrees are essential. Various institutes and universities in India offer courses in various field of geography.

Candidates who have passed 10+2 with high marks in social sciences including geography or equivalent can apply for the bachelor course in geography which is offered in both artsadn science stream. A base in mathematics, statistics and computer science is needed in graduate studies.

On completion of bachelor’s degree, an aspirant can do masters/M.Phil/Ph.D programs. Bachelor degree with a minimum of 50% marks is required for masters degree and at the master level one can choose any specialized courses in geography like cartography, urban and town planning, regional planning, physiography, climatology, oceanography, population studies, environmental geography etc. Some institutes offer courses in Remote Sensing and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) like courses in Geo informatics which are the most demanded module of this era.

A course in geography covers almost all the subjects such as environment, people, economy, ocean, physical features of earth, agriculture, natural resources etc.

Personal skill required include:
  • Perceptive and probing mind
  • Keen observation, analytical and logical thinking, as well as computer skills are the much needed qualification in the field of geography.
  • Interest in Mathematics and Science can help one to be good in this profession.
  • Communication skill plays a major role.
  • Field work sometimes may require travel to remote and less developed areas.
  • Geographers must be physically fit and be healthy to work in any situation and locale. They must keep an updated data regarding the Earth and the changes occurring.
  • They should enjoy travelling, reading, studying and be able to work independently

Specializations in Geography

Many Government and non-governmental institutes along with research centers offers several career options for qualified geographers with numerous specializations. Some of the specialized areas are discussed below.

  1. Economic Geography — Economic geography is the study of geographic location, distribution and spatial organization of economic activities. Economic geographers analyse economic problems in terms of space, place and scale.
  2. Cultural Geograpy — Cultural geography focus on analyzing the cultural phenomenon which includes the study of language, religion, economy and much more.
  3. Political Geography — Political geography is about the political process in relation with spatial structures and it studies the relationship between the government and people, trades and treaties, political power, boundaries and policies etc.
  1. Historical Geography — Historical geography deals with all the physical, fictional, theoretical geographies of the past. It also includes how the people intermingled with the environment and created the cultural features.
  2. Tourism Geography — Tourism geography is the study of travel and how the environment and its features help in the tourism aspects of a speicified area.
  3. Transportation Geography — Transportation geography can be considered as a branch of economic geography which explores the spatial interaction or movement of goods, information and people.
  4. Regional Geography — Regional geography examines the exclusive characteristics of both the nature and human of a region.
  1. Medical Geography — Also known as the health geography, medical geography is the research on health and spread of diseases in the world. It also looks into how climate effect human’s health.
  2. Geomorphology — It is the scientific study of landforms and the processes that shape them.
  3. Hydrology — Hydrology explores the water resources and water cycle. Chemical hydrology, echohydrology, hydrogeology, hydroinformatics, Isotope hydrology, Hydrometeorology, and Surface hydrology are the branches of hydrology.
  4. Glaciology — One of the major areas of polar research, Glaciology is the study of different forms of ice which also includes the history and future of glaciers.
  5. Biogeography — It is all about the study of biodiversity of an area. The biogeographer learns about the harmony of life and its surroundings.
  6. Climatology — Climatology deals with the study of weather conditions of the nation.
  7. Other areas of specialization are Pedology, Palaecogeography, Coastal geography, Oceanography, Quaternary science, Landscape ecology, Geomatics, Environmental geography etc.

Depending on their area of specialization, geographers may be employed as forest managers or in agricultural or economic institutes or as demographers in government and research organizations. Central government agencies may employ geographers for mapping, intelligence work and remote sensing interpretation. State and local governments employ geographers on planning and development commissions. They also join in NGOs and other developmental agencies engaged in population studies, rural development and environmental issues. Urban planning, transportation planning, travel/tourism planning, solid-waste disposal systems, emergency services and social services are other options.

Those with masters and Ph.D. degree can choose the feidl of teaching. A geography background is an asset for careers and tourism, particularly for travel journalism. Text book and map publishers, travel agencies, manufacturing firms, real estate developers and insurance, communication and transportation companies employ geographers. Those with additional training in economics, sociology, urban planning etc., along with geography have a wider range of job opportunities and can work in many other fields.

Geography also helps in competitive examinations and general knowledge papers. Other than becoming a geographer, geography also offers a number of career options for a professionally qualified personal like.

Job Prospects and Career Options

1.   Cartographer

Careers in cartography involve developing and producting different types of maps, as well as producing related diagrams, charts, spreadsheets and travel guides. Your role as a cartographer may also include the restoration of old maps and historical documents.

Cartographers work within a variety of areas, including publishing, government, surveying and conservation. Today the field commonly also draws on an array of advanced technologies, such as geographical information systems (GIS) and digital-mapping techniques.

2.   Environmental Consultant

Environmental consultants work to ensure that their commercial or government clients comply with regulations, and address a variety of environmental issues. This is a varied role, typically focusing on identifying whether an area of land, air or water is polluted, and what the impact would be, by means of desk-based research and field work. Environmental consultancy offers the opportunity for a structured career path with the potential to specialize in an area of interest.

3.   Town Planner

You may deal with the management and development not only of towns, but also cities, villages and rural areas. You will put your analytical skills and knowledge of the environment into use to improve infrastructure and find solutions to environmental issues, as well as ensuring new developments are in line with various policies and regulations.

A part of your job will be to satisfy the needs of businesses and local communities, while ensuring that development is sustainable and natural environments are maximally preserved. You are likely to need a postgraduate qualification in order to increase your prospects of becoming a chartered town planner.

4.   Geographical Information Systems Officer

If you are interested in working with data analytics and computer systems, then this role might suit you. Geographic information systems (GIS) are computerized systems used for the collection, storage, analysis, management and presentation of complex geographical information, for example radar.

The data can be applied in a variety of areas, such as defense, meteorology, oil, gas, telecommunications and transportation, to make decisions which benefit the environment.

For entry into this role, you may find it useful to have previously studied GIS as a module during your degree, and many employers also highly value a relevant postgraduate degree and/or work experience.

5.   Conservation Officer

If you are passionate about the environment and want to encourage others to appreciate and safeguard the natural world, you might like to become a conservation officer. In this career you will work to protect a natural environment and raise awareness of the ways in which the local community can enjoy its settings without having a negative impact.

Similarly, a sustainable development officer would promote their particular employer’s sustainability practices in the local area. To increase your chances of pursuing this career, it is essential to gain some relevant work experience, thorugh paid or voluntary work, and a master’s degree in sustainable development, may be useful.

6.   Recycling Officer

Continuing with the theme of sustainability in careers in geography, recycling officers aim to reduce waste by promoting recycling in their local area. They plan and develp environmental and waste reduction policies and schemes.

Your employer could be a local authority/government, recycling contractor or environmental charity. In this career you will need strong communication and plannings skills, as well as an understanding of current recycling practices, emerging technologies and future trends.

7.   Landscape Architect

Landscape architects create, design, and manage the open spaces around us to ensure that they are not only aesthetically pleasing, but also safe and sustainable. To become a landscape architect, you will need to complete an accredited postgraduate degree in the subject.

8.   Geography Lecturer/Teacher

You may also like to pass on your geography skills and knowledge to the next generation as a geography teacher in a secondary school, college or further education institution. Like other teaching roles, this will usually require completion of a specialized teaching qualification and/or specialized study at master’s or Ph.D level.

You’ll need excellent communication skills, creativity and commitment to your subject. If none of the above geography careers are appealing to you, there are still plenty of options available. The skills you’ve gained during your degree would also be useful for careers in a wide range of other industries, from commerce and the public sector, to transport and tourism.

9.   Real Estate Appraisal

Real estate appraisers develop an opinion of value for a specific piece of property. The work involves research into appropriate market areas, the assemblage of pertinent data, and the use of various analytical techniques to provide an opinion that reflects all pertinent market evidence. This multidisciplinary field incorporates aspects from geography, economics, finance, environmental planning, and law. A solid foundation in geography is essential to a real estate appraiser’s success and typical tools include aerial photos, topographic maps, GIS, and GPS.

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    1. Adapted from the manual
      The Right Hand to Eat: 116 Career Choices By Safiya Mustafa Jariwala

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