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Life As a Geographer

Position Description 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.

Life As a Geographer

  • Analyze geographic distributions of physical and cultural phenomena on local, regional, continental, or global scales.
  • Develop, operate, and maintain geographical information computer systems, including hardware, software, plotters, digitizers, printers, and video cameras.
  • Study the economic, political, and cultural characteristics of a specific region’s population.
  • Locate and obtain existing geographic information databases.
  • Gather and compile geographic data from sources including censuses, field observations, satellite imagery, aerial photographs, and existing maps.
  • Provide geographical information systems support to the private and public sectors.

Skills Needed to be a Geographer

Below is a list of the skills most Geographers say are important on the job.

Writing: Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Reading Comprehension: Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Active Listening: Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Judgment and Decision Making: Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

Types of Geographer

  • Natural Resources Specialist
  • GIS Physical Scientist (Geographic Information Systems Physical Scientist)
  • Supervisory Geographer
  • Earth Observations Chief Scientist (NASA)
  • Geomorphologist

Geographer Job Outlook

In 2016, there was an estimated number of 1,500 jobs in the United States for Geographer. New jobs are being produced at a rate of 13.3% which is above the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 200 new jobs for Geographer by 2026. The BLS estimates 200 yearly job openings in this field.

Forecasted Number of Jobs for Geographers in U.S.

The states with the most job growth for Geographer are Oregon, Missouri, and Georgia. Watch out if you plan on working in Wisconsin, Washington, or North Carolina. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

Do Geographers Make A Lot Of Money?

The salary for Geographers ranges between about $50,720 and $109,900 a year.

Salary Ranges for Geographers

Geographers who work in California, Georgia, or Colorado, make the highest salaries.

Below is a list of the median annual salaries for Geographers in different U.S. states.

State Annual Mean Salary
Arizona $69,730
California $85,530
Colorado $84,380
Georgia $79,030
Louisiana $81,160
Maryland $84,990
Minnesota $67,820
Missouri $76,320
Oregon $78,630
Texas $65,000
Washington $83,530

What Tools & Technology do Geographers Use?

Below is a list of the types of tools and technologies that Geographers may use on a daily basis:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Office
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Autodesk AutoCAD
  • Adobe Systems Adobe Photoshop
  • The MathWorks MATLAB
  • SAS
  • IBM SPSS Statistics
  • Geographic information system GIS software
  • Minitab
  • Adobe Systems Adobe Dreamweaver
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer
  • ESRI ArcView
  • Wolfram Research Mathematica
  • Corel CorelDraw Graphics Suite
  • ESRI ArcInfo
  • Leica Geosystems ERDAS IMAGINE
  • ESRI ArcGIS software
  • Golden Software Surfer

How do I Become a Geographer?

What education is needed to be a Geographer?

Geographer Degree Level

What work experience do I need to become a Geographer?

Geographer Work Experience

Where do Geographers Work?

Geographer Sectors

The table below shows some of the most common industries where those employed in this career field work.

Geographer Industries

You May Also Be Interested In…

Those interested in being a Geographer may also be interested in:

Career changers with experience as a Geographer sometimes find work in one of the following fields:


Image Credit: Couleur via public domain (CC0)

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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