Careers in Geography

Careers in Geography

There are numerous career possibilities with a degree in geography and the undergraduate majors offered by Geography at UCSB are designed to prepare students for careers in several different areas. The flexibility and diversity of a geography degree makes graduates highly sought after in the work force. Geographers may find career opportunities in a variety of work sectors. There are possibilities in state and local government offices, federal agencies, and international organizations. Many geographers find work in private businesses or as consultants to businesses. Also, geographers may pursue the possibility of teaching or researching at a university, or teaching at the primary or secondary level, each requiring additional years of study at the graduate level. Careeer opportunities for geographers also exist in specialized areas such as remote sensing and aerial photography, resource evaluation, urban and regional planning, industrial location, marketing resources, transportation and cartography.

The list of example careers below represents only a sample of the careers available to those with a degree in geography.

Area Specialist

Just like the title suggests, an area specialist has a lot of knowledge about a specific area. This information can be used in numerous ways for social services, companies, etc.


Also known as “map makers”, cartographers take perceptions of the world and “re-create” them as maps. Cartographers may have experience with methods such as surveying and remote sensing.

Emergency Management Planners

Emergency Management Planners utilize geographic tools such as GIS data and remotely sensed data in order to understand and plan for natural and human-induced hazards.

Environmental Planners Utiliziing tools such as GIS and remote sensing, environmental planners are utilized when planning parks, conservation areas, and also are also used by private sector firms. GIS Analysts and Specialists

GIS is a booming area of job growth. GIS Analysts and Specialists use GIS software such as ArcMap to study different phenomena of the earth.

Location Analysts

Analyzing the profitability of a location versus another is an essential step for many businesses. Location analysts are also utilized by government and non-profit groups.

Remote Sensing Analysts and Specialists

Looking at and analyzing the world through satellite and aerial images, geographers who utilize remote sensing are a part of a growing field utilized by numerous sources such as NASA, NOAA, etc.


Everyday something new is being discovered about the world we live. Researchers with a background in geography may have access to and training with different methodologies which may give their research project the edge.


Geography is a fundamental component of a well-rounded K-12 education. Instructors with an established knowledge of geography are desirable to administrators because they provide the opportunity to strenghten a very important aspect of their program.

Transportation Planners and Managers

The science of the flow and eb of traffic is just as complex as building the infrastructure itself. Transportation Planners and Managers utiltize tools such as GIS and surveys in order to understand the transportation needs and wants of an area. This information is then used to plan for future development.

Urban and City Planners

Cities are complex systems with patterns and trends which may be overlooked by the un-trained eye. Urban and City Planners study these complexities of an urban environment in order to build new or improve current cities.

Although you won’t find notices in the classified ads for “Geographer,” job prospects are actually quite good and extremely varied. Mary Lynne Bird gave an interesting talk about “Hidden Geographers” or people with geographic training who make use of their knowledge in careers one might not expect to find them. Find a copy of her talk here.


To learn more about career opportunities in geography, please contact your geography undergraduate advisor or you can check out the following links:

Association of American Geographers  Jobs and Careers

U.S. Department of Labor/Bureau of Labor Statistics Geography Jobs

Cartography and Geographic Information Society Careers in Cartography and GIS


UCSB Career Services

Jobs in Geography at Earthworks,

GeoSearch, Inc.