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Geographers study the physical world. They use maps, examine biological phenomena, analyze cultural patterns and population growth, as they try to understand how these relate to one another on our huge and diverse planet. They use laboratories, interviews, and data taken from sites of interest all around the world to support their research. They use various technologies and computer programs in their work.

They can use their knowledge in a number of ways. They can impact everything from providing advice about where to open a new mall to explaining to highway builders about the environmental dangers of creating a new mega-highway. Geographers help governments and businesses with development plans, environmental policy, resource exploitation and urban planning. They advise municipal governments on heritage site developments. They are on staff with recreation and parks departments, conservation authorities, non-profit environmental watchdog associations, and private businesses. They advise oil companies, manufacturing companies, and developers about their projects and plans.

Quite often, geographers research and teach at universities. They may teach one area, their area of specialization, and focus on something like soil studies, climate, landforms and plate tectonics, or industry and urban development.
Geographers can be employed developing new mapping programs and technologies for research gathering. They can come up with new techniques for studying climate change, earthquake detection, and land erosion problems.

Geographers spend quite a lot of time working in their offices, but they also spend time traveling throughout the world, going to actual sites to analyze the geographical changes and the effect of humans on the earth. This research is fundamental to their work, as they monitor each bit of the planet, from mountains tops to the ocean floor. Geographers are educated, important scientists, who have had an impact on life in most every area on earth.
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  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
Median Salary:
Highest 10% of Earners:

  Interests and Skills  
Geographers need to be interested in the physical and cultural aspects of Earth. They should be inquisitive, imaginative, and able to find innovative solutions to all sorts of problems and questions. They need to be thorough and methodical in their research as well as good at analyzing various forms of data. Geographers need to be good communicators both verbally and on paper. They must also be able to work well alone and as part of a team with others. They must be able to write papers and to put information about the physical environment, social developments, and cultural information into cohesive, relevant reports.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Advise governments, developers, and watchdog organizations on environmental issues
  • Develop geographical information systems
  • Consult with governments about heritage site plans,
  • Teach and/or conduct research relating to climate, landforms, transportation systems, urban development, industry or different geographical regions.
  • Use technologies, like the geographic information systems (GIS) and image analysis systems (IAS) to track resource management
  • Collect and analyze information on people, communities and the environment
  • Write and present research findings
  • Conduct outdoor fieldwork
  • Prepare maps, graphs and other types of geographic information
  • Geographers spend each day analyzing changes in the earth, especially monitoring human impact through urban development, pollution, and the use of resources in industry. They attend meetings with students, government officials, business people, and journalists, to discuss their studies. They spend some of their time traveling the planet, gathering information, living near the people whose population may be threatened by geographical exploitation or evolution.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Geographers study the entire planet, from the depths of the jungle to the midst of the desert. Therefore, it is no surprise to find geographers at work in many, many places. They are in cities, working in government offices, university laboratories and the head offices of major manufacturers. These geographers usually work regular hours, with holidays and evenings free. Some are found on field projects, near volcanoes, in arctic wastelands, and the middle of urban slums. These geographers work in dangerous conditions, for hours at a time. They spend long stretches of time away form their families and friends.
  • Some geographers work for companies that design geographic information systems, using computers and various technologies. Geographers can work alone, or alongside archaeologists, geologists, demographers, and hydrologists. They may work closely with community leaders, other geographers, and urban planners.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Geographers can work in a number of environments. They can work as consultants, and then choose to go back to school and become professors, teaching and researching at the university level. Geographers can work for international non-profit agencies, monitoring industry and urban planning in developing countries. They can find work as consultants with large industrial or manufacturing firms, or with various government departments.

  Educational Paths  
In order to find work as a geographer, a bachelor's degree in arts or science with a geography major is required. This is the minimum requirement to work as a consultant. To be considered a fully qualified geographer, students will need to complete a master's degree in arts or science, with a specialized focus, like biology or social studies. If they would like to be involved in research at a university level, they will need a PhD.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

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