Careers

What Geographers Do

Geography is unique in bridging the social and the natural sciences.  There are two main branches of geography: human and physical.  Human geography is concerned with the spatial aspects of human existence.  Physical geographers study patterns of climates, landforms, vegetation, soils, and water.  Geographers use many tools and techniques in their work, and geographic technologies are increasingly important for understanding our complex world.  They include Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Remote Sensing, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), and online mapping such as Google Earth.

Geographers pursue a variety of rewarding careers in education, business, nonprofit organizations, and local, state, or federal government agencies.  These sectors can be described as follows:

Education:  The education sector includes K through 12 institutions, colleges and universities, and continuing education.  Educators may also work in important administration and academic research positions.

Business:  The business, or private, sector refers to the segment of the economy composed of enterprises owned by individuals or groups.  Businesses employ geographers in a wide variety of capacities to include marketing, transportation and logistics, research, geospatial mapping, health care, forestry and mining, and management.  

Government:  The public sector, which includes federal, state, and local government, is a rich employment area for geographers.  Many government agencies find the broad, integrative perspective offered by academic training in geography to be an asset, and clearly, many public sector organizations rely on the geospatial skills acquired by geography majors.  Nearly two million people—1.8% of the U.S. workforce—are employed by the federal government.  State and local governments employ an additional 19.8 million workers.  Our Geography program's focus on real–world problems is excellent preparation for public sector employment, particularly at the local and state levels where policy development, implementation, and regulatory responsibility reside.

Nonprofit:  Roughly 9% of the U.S. workforce (about 12 million people) is employed by an estimated 1.4 million nonprofit organizations, whose causes and values span the entire political spectrum.  Because nonprofits typically strive to create a better world, they offer great opportunities for job seekers hoping to make a difference.

 

Geography Career Trends 

Thinking about a career in geography?  The American Association of Geographers (AAG) has many resources to help you explore and plan a career!  Many occupations require geospatial knowledge and skills.  Using information from the U.S. Department of Labor, the AAG has compiled data on a broad list of occupations.  Using their online careers database, you can explore the diversity of career opportunities available, and retrieve data on salaries, projected job growth by sector, demand for key skills, and much more to guide you in planning a career.  For each occupation, you can retrieve a description with related job titles, salary trends, as well as links for further exploration.  Refer to the AAG database at: http://www.aag.org/careers.  The various occupations in the database are grouped in categories based on the North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS), which is a standard developed by Federal statistical agencies in classifying businesses for the collection, analysis, and publication of statistical data related to the business economy of the U.S.

Some examples:

Job Title

Median Salary

10-Yr. Growth Projection

Emergency Management Director

$64,000

12%

Forester

$58,000

3–7%

Geophysical Data Technicians

$58,500

15-28%

Geospatial Information Scientists & Technologists

$83,500

3–7%

Health Care Researcher, Research Analyst

$95,000

8–14%

Landscape Architect

$62,300

9–15%

Mining Specialist

$90,000

8–14%

Real Estate Appraiser, Tax Assessor

$55,500

3–7%

Surveying and Mapping Technician

$42,000

11–15%

Transportation Planner

$73,000

2%

Transportation, Storage, & Distribution Managers

$85,000

5–7%

Urban / Regional Planner

$67,500

8–14%

Water Resource Specialist

$120,000

3–7%

 

What Environmental Specialists Do

Environmental Science Careers.  Careers in Environmental Science are quite varied… you could end up working from home or traveling the world.  You could do fieldwork; work in a research laboratory, or some combination thereof.  Some environmental scientists are engaged in environmental policy, planning, and management.  They typically work for a government agency; and are likely to be engaged in a lot of research–intensive work.  Many of our graduates work as consultants or compliance officers in large corporations.  Our graduates are now working in an assortment of capacities for a variety of organizations: energy and sanitation companies, in manufacturing, at universities, for private companies, law firms, nonprofit groups, and government agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Center for Disease Control.  Finding something you enjoy doing within the broad scope of Environmental Science should not be terribly difficult when there are so many options.  Environmental scientists are problem solvers.  They research environmental problems and develop innovative solutions.  In 2014, Forbes Magazine identified Environmental Science as one the top 20 growth jobs for the next 25 years!

What Environmental Scientists Do?  Environmental scientists conduct research to identify, control, or eliminate hazards affecting the environment and public health.  Their research generally involves collecting and analyzing air, water, and soil samples and analyzing them for correlations to human activity.  They also prepare reports and presentations that explain their findings.  Environmental scientists develop plans to prevent, control, or fix environmental problems like air pollution.  They may also advise government officials that make policy, and businesses that need to follow regulations.  Some environmental scientists focus on environmental issues, while others focus on issues relating to human health.  Either way, they work on critical issues, solving some of the most important problems of our day.

Environmental scientists conduct research to identify, control, or eliminate hazards affecting the environment and public health.  Their research generally involves collecting and analyzing air, water, and soil samples and analyzing them for correlations to human activity.  They also prepare reports and presentations that explain their findings.  Environmental scientists develop plans to prevent, control, or fix environmental problems like air pollution.  They may also advise government officials that make policy, and businesses that need to follow regulations.  Some environmental scientists focus on environmental issues, while others focus on issues relating to human health.  Either way, they work on critical issues, solving some of the most important problems of our day.

 

Environmental Career Trends 

Most environmental scientists work for federal, state, or local governments, where they conduct research, advise on policy, and verify that businesses are following regulations.  As of 2014, most environmental scientists (i.e., 22%) worked in state government.  Another 21% worked for companies providing management, scientific, and technical consulting services.  These professionals usually help companies comply with regulations.  About 14% worked for local government agencies, 10% provided engineering services, and 7% worked for the federal government.

The average annual salary for an environmental specialist was $68,570 in 2014.  Those working for the federal government earned the highest salaries ($95,460).  Those working in engineering services earned about $67,770.  Environmental scientists providing management, scientific, and technical consulting services made about $64,940 on average.  Those working for local governments made $60,280, while those employed in state government made about $56,640.

 

After Graduation 

Recent graduates from our Department work in a variety jobs, many of which focus on environmental consulting and regulatory compliance.  These jobs are in environmental consulting companies, law firms (as environmental investigators), pharmaceutical companies, engineering firms, and energy companies.  Some examples are given below:

AEI Consultants

Alcon Pharmaceuticals

American Paper

CH2M

Chesapeake Energy

Bloomberg Financial

Chesapeake Environmental Management, Inc.

Christopher Melick PLS

Goodwin-Procter LLP

HDR Environmental Services

Image Navigation, Inc.

J&J Consulting Services

Keystone Aerial Surveys

Langan Engineering

Pacific PIR

Partner Engineering & Science, Inc.

Posillico Inc.

SQL Applications

Textron Systems

Trinity Consultants

URS (AECOM)

Vertex

York Analytical Laboratories

Yu & Associates

 

Many of our recent graduates work in public sector jobs as environmental scientists, geographers, and geospatial specialists:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Barbados Department of Natural Resources

Center for Disease Control

Virginia Department of Natural Resources

Haverford Recreation

Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission

Bureau of Land Management

 

Recent graduates of our Department have gained entrance into some of the top graduate and professional schools in the country:

Columbia University

Duke University

Emory University

George Washington University

Howard University  

Maryland Law

Michigan State University School of Law

Northern Arizona University

The Pennsylvania State University

Pennsylvania University

Rutgers University 

SUNY, College of Environmental Science & Forestry

University of Maryland

University of Michigan

University of Texas Law School

Vermont School of Law

Skills Developed By a Geography Major

Air Photo/Remote Sensing Analysis

Political Analysis

Cartographic Techniques

Regional Analysis

Economic Planning

Spatial Analysis

Environmental Analysis

Statistical Techniques

Hazards and Disasters Assessment

Urban Planning

Recommended Link: The Association of American Geographers

Consider Graduate School

Many students go on to complete master's and doctorates in geography. Approximately 158 graduate departments in the U.S. and Canada offer MA programs and 86 that offer Ph.D. programs in geography.

For more information, please call the department at 610.519.4710, visit the office in 202 St. Augustine Center, or contact one of the faculty members.