Is Geography a Good Major? [2021 Guide]

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Is geography a good major? You might be wondering this if you love studying maps and physical land features or the relation between human activity and natural environments.

Is Geography a Good Major

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In a geography program, you’ll likely study the natural features of the Earth, environmental research, and new kinds of digital and interactive maps.

Is Geography a Good Major?

Geography Major

Yes, geography is a good major for many undergraduate students. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 5% job growth for life, physical, and social science occupations.

Professionals with knowledge in this field and related fields can move into a range of meaningful professional roles. They may work in mining or find a position related to local, national, and global scientific and environmental research. Some also work with public agencies that oversee resource management tasks or regional development projects.

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From climate change to population growth and migration patterns, geographers can study and help monitor, analyze, and map natural land features and formations. They can also track and analyze data related to the impacts of human activity on the environment.

Geographers can work alongside other environmental, wildlife, and natural resource scientists in roles related to environmental impact research, data tracking, and mapping. Some professionals with a background in geography use their knowledge as educators, in secondary or postsecondary teaching roles.

Geography Major Curriculum

Geography Major Curriculum

As a geography major, you’ll typically learn about categorizing, surveying, analyzing, and mapping natural and man-made features and dynamics. You may also study specialized topics in environmental science and innovative GPS-powered mapping, visualization, and information systems.

Course offerings will vary by program, curriculum designs, and areas of concentration, but here are some examples of courses you may come across in your studies:

  • Physical Geography
  • Geographical Information Systems
  • Population and Migration Studies
  • Political Geography
  • Statistical Mapping
  • Mapping and Spatial Analysis
  • Ecosystems and Conservation Science
  • Climate and Geography
  • Hydrology and Water Resources
  • Field Methods in Physical Geography

A Bachelor of Arts (BA) program typically has more policy-focused and theory-focused courses. On the other hand, a Bachelor of Science (BS) program may have more technically challenging courses. A BS will likely have more of an emphasis on statistical analysis and reporting, information systems, and advanced mapping tools and methods.

5 Things You Can Do with a Geography Degree

Hydrologist

Earning a bachelors in geography can lead you down a number of career paths. Choosing a specialty or going on to earn a graduate degree in a complementary field can allow you to branch out in related, specialized fields.

1. Hydrologist

Hydrologists use their specialized knowledge of water-related geographical dynamics and features to collect and track data about water systems, resources, and environmental impacts.

They may apply their skills as project consultants working with other engineers, conservation specialists, or urban planners. They can also provide environmental maps and reports, such as reporting environmental impacts.

2. Cartographers

Cartographers

Cartographers gather, analyze, and map geographic information related to physical, human, and environmental geography.

A cartographer may use or help develop and apply advanced methods for surveying or representing various strands of statistical geographical and environmental data. They often use digital mapping technologies and interactive mapping tools.

3. Environmental Engineer

Environmental Engineer

Environmental engineers use their specialized training to help in planning or reviewing civil and environmental engineering projects.

They may help with inspection processes and scientific or regulatory reporting as well. They can also work with other engineers to find solutions to unique engineering challenges.

4. Geoscientists

Geoscientists may apply knowledge in both geography and geology to conduct field surveys of mineral deposits, land formations, and related natural resources. They also help collect, analyze, and represent the data to others.

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Geoscientists can also perform data analysis or laboratory analysis work related to their geographic or geological sampling and surveying work.

5. Urban Planner

Urban planners review land use policies and regulations. They can advise or confer with a range of public interest stakeholders and other public officials to review or propose goals, guidelines, or planning documents related to land use and public works.

Urban planners can also survey local and regional land use practices or population and vegetation densities. They can help evaluate and review public development projects or blueprints as well.

Geography Careers

Geography Careers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a geography degree could be a strategic step toward equipping yourself for one of many pathways in science, resource management, or urban and regional planning.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Atmospheric Scientists $99,740
Geoscientists $93,580
Geographers $85,430
Hydrologists $84,040
Urban and Regional Planners $75,950
Environmental Scientists and Specialists $73,230
Cartographers and Photogrammetrists $68,380
Surveyors $65,590
Environmental Science and Protection Technicians $46,850
Surveying and Mapping Technicians $46,200

Careers for geography majors intersect with a range of related career pathways. A number of related careers require specialized training in order to qualify. Geography bachelors programs offer a number of specializations to help you tailor your program to your career goals.

How to Know If a Degree in Geography Is Right for You

Degree in Geography

If you decide to major in geography, you’ll probably find yourself taking courses that span an exceptionally broad range of knowledge and topics. Depending on your school’s program offerings, you might have a wide range of electives and concentrations to select for yourself as well.

Curriculum offerings for a geography major can cover a variety of topics, including:

  • Physical land features and environmental features
  • Environmental trends related to population and human development
  • Geographical information systems (GIS)
  • Statistical data analysis
  • Electronic and interactive mapping
  • Field survey methods and training
  • Resource conservation

You may also take specialty courses, such as hydrology, urban development, or population and migration studies. If you find the study of land maps, climate maps, political maps, and population maps interesting, a geography major may be a compelling choice to consider.

What Can I Do with a Geography Degree?

bachelors in geography

If you have been wondering what you can do with a geography degree, a bachelors in geography can help you pursue a range of opportunities. Professionals in the field may work as geographers, either as physical geographers or human geographers.

Geographers may work for private civil engineering firms or work on conservation and land use with government agencies. The majority of geographers work for the federal government.

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Today, geographers can work as researchers, consultants, or even teachers in high school or college. They can also use mapping tools for environmental research or for urban and regional planning tasks.

Those with a background in geography may go on to acquire skills and training for related careers. Specialized careers can include environmental specialist, geoscientist, hydrologist, cartographer, and urban planner.

Why Study Geography?

Why Study Geography

In a world where natural geography and human activity have so many interacting dynamics, the study of geography might be uniquely important. Challenges such as climate change, overpopulation, and resource depletion require global action.

You might want to study geography so you can teach the next generation about the world we inhabit. Your teaching could involve climate zones, culture groups, political boundaries, and important land formations.

Studying advanced data information and mapping methods could also open pathways to important roles in civil engineering, land management, urban planning, or environmental monitoring and protection work.

In short, studying geography could help you become a well-informed global citizen while opening doors to meaningful professional possibilities.

What Jobs Can You Get with a Geography Degree?

Geography Degree jobs

Some professionals with a background in geography work in the intriguing field of cartography.

Cartographers and photogrammetrists use traditional and innovative technologies for land, population, resource, and environmental- and climate-change-related surveying, data collection, analysis, and reporting work.

Cartographers can use interactive mapping technologies and other innovative mapping tools to help others make use of geographic and environmental data. Surveying and mapping jobs are another intriguing line of work that some professionals with expertise in geography like to pursue.

Others apply their knowledge to conservation and resource management work. For example, hydrologists and environmental specialists might work for large public agencies, such as the Bureau of Land Management or the US Department of Forestry.

How Much Do Geographers Make?

Geographers salary

How much professionals in the field earn depends on many factors, including skills, certifications, degrees earned, areas of specialization, and even geographical location.

Most geographers make between $53,630 and $117,100, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The median salary for all geographers is $85,430. The majority of geographers work the federal government, and the median salary for these positions is $92,080.

A number of professionals with a background in geography become cartographers and photogrammetrists. The median salary for these positions is $68,380.

What’s the Difference Between Geology vs. Geography?

Here are some key differences between geography and geology:

Geography Geology
  • Studies large land features and formations from natural phenomena, such as volcanoes and plate tectonics
  • Studies physical features and impacts related to human activity, such as migration and overdevelopment
  • Studies maps and map-making processes
  • Studies natural processes and forces from the development or composition of varied physical materials and deposits
  • Studies physical properties natural land and water formations and of various soil and mineral resources
  • Studies physical development of natural land features or material properties of rocks, soils, and minerals in particular

Geography is the study of Earth’s land formations, features, natural and man-made boundaries, and topography. Geology focuses on the physical characteristics and properties of specific types of soil, rock, and minerals.

Is a Degree in Geography Worth It?

Is a Degree in Geography Worth It

Yes, a degree in geography is worth it for many students. Jobs in life, physical, and social science are expected to grow 5% over the next ten years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Those with backgrounds in geography may map global population trends or provide expert data and solutions for civil engineering projects. They can also help companies or public agencies survey and manage land and natural resources.

A geography major can be fascinating in its own right while also giving you an opportunity to explore topics related to diverse and meaningful career-related specializations.

Professionals in the field may specialize in areas such as environmental science and engineering, land or population surveying, or innovative applications in the field of cartography.

Getting Your Geography Degree Online

Geography Degree Online

If geography studies fit your interests and career goals, you can start exploring the many online bachelors in geography programs available from accredited universities. Online learning options are known for their convenience and flexibility.

As you compare programs, you’ll likely discover that this major can offer you a range of career pathways. You can learn about topics as disparate and interesting as population and migration studies, geography information systems, and surveying and mapping.

The sooner you begin researching geography degrees, the sooner you may find a program that offers the right mix of course design, scheduling, and pacing options for your needs and preferences.

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Keith Nickolaus
WRITTEN BY
Keith Nickolaus
Keith has a Ph.D. and a M.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of California - Berkeley and a B.A. in Literature from the University of California - Santa Cruz. A retired educator, Keith lives in Berkeley and researches and writes about trends in education leadership, innovation, and policy.