What does a Geographer do?

A geographer studies nature, land, and the earth. They also research the inhabitants and features of a region on a global or local level. They study and examine cultural or political structures and phenomena relating to geography and present their findings. They may also create graphs, diagrams, and maps with the use of geographical information software.

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How to Become a Geographer

Many geographers need a master’s degree in a geographical science as well as extensive knowledge and experience. Some employers may consider candidates that have earned a bachelor’s degree but would want experience in the similar field. Training in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is very important and may require on-the-job training as well.

Job Description of a Geographer


A geographer uses the study of the earth’s surface and nature to collect information on the physical aspects of a region. This study could include plants, animals, climates, and land forms. This research may also include the implication of human activities in a certain area and examine economic activities, social characteristics, and even political organization.

Geographers use cartography principles, topography elevation, and map scales. They collect geographical data from a variety of sources such as aerial photographs, satellite imagery, and/or field observations. Additionally, they can offer consulting expertise for market area analysis, a regions cultural history, environmental hazard education, and they can also teach. Geologists are knowledgable about history, archeology, sociology, and anthropology and should be able to use a computer on-the-job.

Geographer Career Video Transcript

If you’ve made a mental map of your neighborhood, or learned how to use public transportation, you’ve practiced the observation and reasoning skills used by geographers. These scientists study Earth’s features and the relationship of human activity to the planet. Many geographers do fieldwork to gather data, and study maps, photographs, and census reports for their research. They also create maps and geographic images, which may be used to guide decision making related to land use and groups of people.

Geographers usually focus on either Earth’s physical aspects such as landforms, water, and natural resources, or on human geography, which explores the relationship of human activity to the physical environment. For example, using satellite imagery, a human geographer might research the impact of conflict on a region, its effects on water supply, farming practices, and emigration.

Geographers rely on geographic information systems software (or GIS) and satellite imagery to collect data they need for their reports. Most geographers work standard, full-time business hours. Some geographers travel to the region they are studying, which can mean visiting foreign countries and remote locations. Geographers need a bachelor’s degree for most entry-level positions, including jobs in the federal government. GIS skills and geography knowledge are used in the work of surveyors, urban and regional planners, and geoscientists. A master’s degree and related work experience are typically required for more advanced positions.

Article Citations

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Geographers.

National Center for O*NET Development. 19-3092.00. O*NET OnLine.

The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.