At its core, geography is the study of the diverse spaces and environments of Earth and their relationship to those who inhabit it. The field of geography offers a bridge between natural sciences and social sciences to better understand the differences in environmental, social and cultural contexts across the globe.
Careers in geography
There are a variety of careers in geography, including cartographers, climate change analysts, environmental protection specialists, environmental restoration planners, geographic information systems (GIS) analysts and soil scientists. Some traditional geography-centric positions include:
Cartographers collect, review and use geographic data to create maps. Depending on the types of maps being created, cartographers may compile data from sources such as aerial photographs, satellite images, surveys and population data. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the group that includes cartographers and photogrammetrists earned a median salary of $68,900 in 2021, and employment is projected to grow 3% between 2021 and 2031.
Photogrammetrists create models based on the analysis of photos and imaging. Today's photogrammetrists must be well-versed in technology, as they heavily rely on Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping to fulfill their role.
Geographers study the features and inhabitants of differing terrain. Some geographers also look at geographic impacts on culture and politics and engage in fieldwork in the locations they are studying. Many geographers work for government organizations, but some are employed by colleges or universities. The average median salary for geographers was $85,220 in 2021, according to the BLS.
The influence geographers can have on politics and society
Geographers bring a perspective that blends the analysis of economics, environment and culture. Their efforts provide insights into the connections between physical environments and key aspects of society. This context aids other professionals in making more informed decisions to support their goals.
Common geographical insights include the discouraging or encouraging of economic activities. Examples of geography influencing economic activities include implementing shipping activities near a natural harbor and the decision to mine in areas where specific minerals occur.
Geography can also influence the development and maintenance of cultures. For example, if the availability of natural resources is hindered due to environmental or political causes, traditional occupations and food supplies can be affected. Understanding and analyzing why geographical phenomena occur can aid other professionals in making the decisions needed to restore or benefit an affected region.
Geography also has a major impact on politics. For example, the presence or absence of environmental resources can improve or impair a local economy. And government regulations tied to natural resources can influence political priorities. Thus, politics is another field where geographers may find opportunities to leverage their expertise.