When you think of geography, you may envision memorizing the capital cities of African countries and the names of different mountain ranges, but it encompasses much more than that! Geographers may study population patterns and climate change, and cartographers might develop road creation plans and modern mapping technology. Continue reading to find out if these studies are right for you.
Geography is the study of the earth, its features and its phenomena, and cartography is the science of map-making. These fields are often studied together. If you pursue an education in these disciplines, you'll learn about the natural resources, climates, animals and plants of areas worldwide. You'll also study how human factors affect geography, and you'll learn how to document the changing features of the earth.
Professional geographers and cartographers have various job responsibilities, which include studying the relationships between regions and their residents' political orientations, exploring how natural disasters could affect certain areas and tracking population growth. If you pursue a career in geography and cartography, you'll need to be able to communicate effectively, take accurate measurements and work well with others.
Several career options are available if you study geography and cartography. If you become a remote sensing specialist, you'll gather aerial photos and determine what should be included on maps. You'll choose different symbols and colors to represent the various features. If you decide to pursue a career in land surveying, your main job duty will be recording topography. You might measure distances, determine boundaries and explore the depths of bodies of water. If you become a cartographer, you'll use photos and surveys to create accurate maps. You'll likely focus on modern technology applications, including global positioning systems on phones and computers. You can also pursue a career as a map editor, high school geography teacher, zoning investigator or land developer.
Earning your master's or doctoral degree in geography and cartography will open up even more career options, such as regional planning. As a regional planner, your job duties would involve assessing layouts of geographic regions and creating construction plans for roads and buildings. You might research neighborhood revitalization projects, determine solutions to traffic jams and make sure that new stores are accessible. You could also opt to become a climatologist or a map curator.
Geographers and cartographers can work for the federal government, scientific research institutions or private businesses. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that employment in geographic and cartographic careers was expected grow faster than average between 2008 and 2018 (www.bls.gov). The BLS anticipated an increase in employment of 15% for surveyors, 20% for mapping and surveying technicians, 26% for geographers and 27% for cartographers. Also according to the BLS, the median annual salary for surveying and mapping technicians was $37,900, for cartographers was $54,510, for surveyors was $54,880 and for geographers was $72,800 as of May 2010.
Although a degree isn't required for all positions, training in geographic principles and technology is beneficial. Many careers in geography and cartography do require you to have some sort of formal education. You can choose from several undergraduate and graduate certificate and degree programs in geographic studies, cartographic studies and geographic information systems (GIS). You might be able to specialize in areas such as political, physical, medical or regional geography, environmental planning or geotechniques.
Certificate programs can boost your skills and increase your job opportunities. They can update your knowledge of current developments in geography and cartography as well as provide you with training on the latest technologies.
In an undergraduate degree program in geography and cartography, you can study global environmental systems, world culture and map-making principles. You may learn how to obtain and interpret geographic images, analyze landscapes and utilize digital map technology.
Graduate degree programs in geography and cartography are research-based. If you pursue a graduate education, you may assess methods for gathering geographic data, explore reasons for climate changes, plan a coast's development, determine economic development opportunities and create transportation models. You can also apply geographic and cartographic principles to other career fields. A graduate degree can increase your job prospects and earning potential.