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Careers in Geography

Geography also provides a broad training and education for students who wish to enter range of careers as diverse as administration, business, cartography to tourism and planning. The list is almost endless although many of these work opportunities do not fall under the name `geographer'. You should therefore not see too many advertisements for a geographer, but rather offers which include the skills of geography.

What is geography?

Geography is the integrated study of the earth's places, peoples, environments and societies. It seeks to understand the relationships and impacts between people and the environment by giving attention to these relationships in space and place, and over time.
There are two main branches of geography: human and physical geography:
(a) Human geography is studies spatial elements of human existence - the distribution of people across the planet, the use and abuse of that space (land, water and the atmosphere), and how places and spaces are developed and sustained. Human geographers work in diverse fields such as in development agencies, urban and regional planning, transportation, estate agencies, tourism and eco-tourism, and international relations.
(b) Physical geographers study patterns of physical processes such as climate, hazards, soils, water and water quality, oceans, landforms and vegetation. These studies are important to understand how situations and elements of the environment are changing, how they require increasing conservation, management and planning in our world in impacts and the use of resources are rapidly increasing. It is difficult to separate these kinds of activities from those of human geographers.

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What skills are required?

  • Ability to recognize and observe spatial patterns and processes in reality

  • Proficiency in communicate

  • Ability to read and understand maps, graphs, charts

  • Ability to undertake scientific research

  • Aptitude for accurate details

  • Engage in decision-making and problem solving skills

  • Aptitude for statistics and mathematics

  • Ability to use computers to analyse electronic information 

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How do I know if I want to become a geographer?

Score yourself against the following statements (1 = strongly disagree, 3 = unsure, 5 = strongly agree). Keep a record of your score so you can evaluate yourself at the end.
1. I enjoy learning about places.
1 2 3 4 5
2. Do you like to see places and features on maps.
1 2 3 4 5
3. I choose the window seat when I travel in taxis, cars, buses, trains etc so that I can observe things on my journey.
1 2 3 4 5
4. I am interested to hear news about what happens in other countries.
1 2 3 4 5
5. I like to work outside, away from an office.
1 2 3 4 5
6. I am interesting in finding ways to solve problems.
1 2 3 4 5
7. I enjoy asking questions about the world in which I live.
1 2 3 4 5
8. I like to see how different things connect with each other.
1 2 3 4 5
9. I enjoy collecting and analyzing information about the world in which I live.
1 2 3 4 5
10. I like to see the `big picture' showing people and places are interconnected.
1 2 3 4 5
11. I am concerned about a declining environment.
1 2 3 4 5
12. I find it interesting to know how people can reduce their impact on the environment.
1 2 3 4 5

Add the score from each of your responses and compare with the table below:

< 15
 Hmmm, perhaps you need to think about some other career possibility
15 to 30
 You show a low interest in geography and should think about another careers
30 to 40
 You are not really convinced although show a great deal of interest in being a geographer. Re-look at where you have scored at 4 or 5 and examine careers that relate more directly to these statements
40 to 50
 Good - you should consider a career in geography. There is lots that interests you.
50 to 60
 You have a bright future as a geographer!

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Careers in geography

"What can I do with geography?":

  • Representative jobs held by geographers include:
  • Biogeographer/Ecologist
  • Cartographer
  • Climatologist
  • Coastal Zone Manager
  • College/University Lecturer/Researcher
  • Community Development
  • Conservation Officer
  • Conservationist
  • Consultant in a range of geographical fields
  • Development Facilitator
  • Delivery Manager
  • Diplomat
  • Earth Scientist
  • Economic Development Planner
  • Environmental Educator
  • Environmental Impact Analyst
  • Environmental Manager
  • Environmental Planner
  • Foreign Service Officers
  • Geographic Information Specialist
  • Geologist
  • Geomorphologist
  • Hazardous Waste Planner
  • Health Services Planner
  • Hydrologist
  • Land Use Planner
  • Map Editor
  • Map Librarian
  • Map, Air Photo & Satellite Image Interpreter
  • Market Researcher
  • Meteorologist
  • Military Planner
  • Natural Resource Manager
  • Police
  • Regional Planner
  • Remote-Sensing Analyst
  • Social Ecologist
  • Social Scientist
  • Soil Scientist
  • Teacher (elementary & secondary)
  • Tourism Development / Tour Guide
  • Traffic Manager
  • Transportation Planner
  • Travel Agent
  • Urban/City Planner
  • Water Resource Manager

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Contact details

School of Environmental Sciences and Development
North-West University
Potchefstroom Campus
Private Bag X6001
Potchefstroom 2520

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Courses offered

Geography Homepage
School Homepage
Geography staff
What is geography?
What skills are required?
How do I know if I want to become a geographer?
Careers in geography

Contact details


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