What can you do with a geography degree? (With salary info)

Updated 20 February 2023

The field of geography examines the physical features of the Earth and how humans influence and impact these features. A geography degree prepares students to work in different fields of research, planning and consulting by using the skills they've learned to collect and analyse data. Understanding what options are available after getting your degree can help you decide which career path to choose. In this article, we explore the different skills, work environments, and jobs.

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What can you do with a geography degree?

With a geography degree, students can explore a variety of career paths with an understanding of how the environment looks now, how it looked in the past, and ways that they can preserve and protect it. Geography is an interdisciplinary field involving physical and human sciences, geospatial representation and analysis, and mathematics. If you studied geography, you can pursue work in public or private sectors and the areas of urban planning, conservation, research, education and more. Geography graduates can also use their experience with GIS to work as surveyors, cartographers or analysts.

What skills does a geographer have?

With a geography degree you develop the following essential skills:

  • geographic knowledge

  • mathematical ability

  • read, analyse and create maps and spacial patterns

  • science knowledge

  • analytical and technical skills

  • strong communication skills

  • creative problem-solving ability

  • develop a sense of social responsibility

  • strong understanding of GIS and other related technology

  • teamwork skills

  • observation skills

  • writing ability

Where does a geographer work?

Geography careers offer a wide range of environments to work in. The location of where you may be working can also depend on whether the focus of your studies is physical geography or human geography. The career path you choose may result in you working in the field while other geography jobs may involve more office work. You may prefer to use more of your mathematical and analytical skills to work behind the scenes or exercise your sense of social responsibility and communication skills to work directly with the public.

What employers hire geography graduates?

There is a wide range of employment options for job seekers with a geography degree. You can solve a wide range of environmental, political, humanitarian and economic challenges in the public or private sector. The skills you can obtain through a geography degree allow you to pursue a career in several fields including education, transport, commerce, industry, and tourism.

What jobs can I get with a geography degree?

The jobs available after a geography degree offer an opportunity to help solve many of modern society's most pressing issues such as climate change, natural disasters, urban expansion, overpopulation, and multicultural integration. Now that you've completed your studies, here are some of the top geography careers.

1. Cartographer

National average salary: £28,091 per year

Primary duties: Cartographers handle the scientific, technological and artistic aspects of developing and producing conventional and digital maps. Cartographers research areas and collect data for maps with the help of their mathematical skills and digital systems to ensure the accuracy of their maps. Maps and detailed geographical information serve various purposes, from everyday use by individuals to expansive industrial developments. The use of GIS and digital mapping techniques are now frequently used tools for this role.

2. Urban planner

National average salary: £36,806 per year

Primary duties: Urban planners, also known as tow planners, evaluate land and create plans for residential and public development. This can include analysing a community or region's needs and reviewing the land's structure to determine the best ways to improve the current layout. Efforts to make improvements can include planning and designing buildings, parks and roads to make the area more visually appealing and convenient to use. Through their work, urban planners may aim to develop sustainable practices and make positive changes to decrease the effects of climate change.

3. Surveyor

National average salary: £38,995 per year

Primary duties: A surveyor measures properties to determine boundaries during the building planning process. Surveyors assist engineers, construction workers and map makers by providing accurate measurements, data and legal assistance. Whether you're a commercial or residential surveyor you can advise clients on the local property market, economic viability and environmental impact of each project while overseeing development from an empty space to a finished structure. You may also act as an agent, broker or auctioneer during a sale and facilitate contract negotiations between landlords and tenants.

Related: How to become a building surveyor

4. Geographic Information System (GIS) specialist

National average salary: £36,583 per year

Primary duties: Geographic Information System (GIS) specialists are responsible for creating and maintaining GIS databases in cities, towns or other areas. The computerised GIS systems specialists use for this role collect, analyse, store and produce a range of detailed geographical and spatial data in a variety of formats including cartographic, photographic and remote sensing. A GIS specialist can use this system to combine all these types of data into one map, which geographers can use for complex readings. By studying this vast information you can look for patterns to make decisions about long-term planning and development.

5. Environmental consultant

National average salary: £32,826 per year

Primary duties: Environmental consultants work with companies to advise them on their contribution to environmental issues. They provide expert advice and assessments to help clients minimise or even eliminate their negative impact on the environment. An environmental consultant may work under a consultancy firm to support their commercial or government clients to address environmental issues, ensure they comply with environmental regulations or advise them on how to handle environmental disasters. There is a wide range of environmental issues you can specialise in including air, land and water contamination, renewable energy, waste management and recycling, emissions and climate change, and more.

Related: 8 climate change jobs to help the planet (with salaries)

6. Secondary teacher

National average salary: £19,796 per year

Primary duties: A secondary teacher who specialises in geography can teach students about the environment and the physical formations of Earth, climate change and environmental preservation. As a secondary teacher, it is helpful to stay up to date with new developments, resources, methods and national objectives of your specific subject to engage with and prepare their students. In addition to conducting classes, the responsibilities of secondary teachers include planning lessons with curriculum objectives, engaging with parents and academic peers and grading assignments.

Related: How to become a secondary school teacher

7. Geospatial analyst

National average salary: £31,599 per year

Primary duties: The primary duties of a geospatial analyst are to analyse geographical data and translate it into digital formats. They do this by examining a range of data including aerial photographs, satellite data, GIS data, cartographic records, soil analysis, environmental samples, academic literature and more. Geospatial Analysts process this vast information to determine what are the key features of the land and what changes have happened over time. Most geospatial analysts balance their time between working in the field to collect information and in an office collecting and analysing data.

8. Landscape architect

National average salary: £31,263 per year

Primary duties: Landscape architects use their knowledge of the natural world to design, create and develop outdoor spaces such as parks, playgrounds, campuses and gardens in both natural and manufactured environments. The role of a landscape architect is to create innovative and visually pleasing environments for communities to enjoy in a way that reduces the project's environmental impact. With the help of digital software, they measure, analyse and create designs. These professionals collaborate closely with the communities they work in and other professionals on a range of projects in both urban and rural areas.

Related: How to become a landscape architect

9. Transport planner

National average salary: £27,821 per year

Primary duties: Transport planners improve and manage transport systems at a local, regional, national or international level. In this role, you have the opportunity to work on plans, projects and policies for all kinds of transport systems including the use of cars and public transportation on roads, railways, pedestrians systems and travel by air. Transport system improvements take into consideration a wide range of issues such as safety, climate change, the economy, the environment and efficiency on a local, national or international scale.

Related: How to become a transport planner

10. Meteorologist

National average salary: £35,836 per year

Primary duties: The role of a meteorologist isn't just presenting the weather for broadcast television. They also study and research the impact of weather and climate on the environment, changes in weather patterns, climate change, models of weather prediction and conduct forecasting. They study the causes of weather conditions using information from the land, sea and atmosphere. Meteorologists use their mathematical skills to make long and short-range forecasts of weather and climate patterns with information from worldwide satellite images, remote sensors, weather stations and other environmental factors.

Related: How to become a meteorologist

11. Geographer

National average salary: £26,413 per year

Primary duties: As a geographer, you study Earth's land, inhabitants, structures and features to compile data for use in GIS, creating maps and planning. Geographers work on a wide range of tasks such as examining political or cultural structures, writing reports, conducting surveys or interviews and studying the physical and human characteristics of regions ranging from local to global. Geographers uncover relationships and trends in geographic data.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries‌ ‌may‌ ‌‌vary‌‌ ‌depending‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌hiring‌ ‌organisation‌ ‌and‌ ‌a‌ ‌candidate's‌ ‌experience,‌ ‌academic‌ background‌ ‌and‌ ‌location.‌

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