Careers in Geography & GIS

Why Geography?

Geographers apply their unique knowledge, skills, and perspectives in a diverse range of industries. They hold positions as urban planners who assess the costs and benefits of proposed transit systems, as state climatologists assessing the impacts of rising sea levels, as consultants advising firms about moving into new markets, and as human rights advocates working with refugees. These are just a handful of the many types of careers available to geographers.

Geography prepares individuals for work in the social, physical, and environmental sciences, as well as the arts and humanities.

Consider the following trends:

  • Geographers are classified by the US Department of Labor as a "Bright Outlook" occupation
  • The US Department of Labor projects "much faster than average" growth, in excess of 20% or more, in jobs for geographers, geoscientists, cartographers, urban and regional planners, and other geographic professionals, with projected needs of upwards of 15,000 additional employees in each of these career fields between 2008 and 2018.
  • Geospatial technology is considered to be a high growth industry by the US Department of Labor. Because geospatial technology is so pervasive in modern industry, the market is growing at an annual rate of almost 35%

What Employers Look For

Discover the top skills employers are looking for in the geospatial industry

Although writing and oral communication are valued in all types of workplaces, as are research, finance and budgeting expertise, geographers possess a multitude of additional skills that are valued by employers across a wide range of careers. Some of these unique skills and perspectives are:

  • Spatial thinking                                            
  • A global perspective
  • An interdisciplinary perspective                      
  • Experience in field methods
  • Abilities in GIScience, cartography, and visualization
  • A sense of the complex interactions between humans and the environment
  • Sensitivity to the distinctiveness of places

Geographers are well prepared to meet the rapidly evolving demands of today's industries given their big picture perspective, eye for detail, and ability to integrate and synthesize information at a variety of scales.

Where Are They Now?

Take a look at companies, agencies and organizations that have hired #unageo graduates:

Where Are They Now?

Job Titles Held By Our Recent Graduates

Curious about the positions that our well-qualified, highly marketable graduates are hired to? Check out the diversity of job titles held by #unageo graduates:

Job Titles Held By Our Recent Graduates

Where You Can Go As A UNA Geography Graduate

UNA Geography is a world-renowned department that can help you land a job in a number of industries. A degree in Geography or Geographic Information Science (GIS) can help guide you to the job of your dreams. Check out a sample of representative jobs held by geographers:

What Can You Do With A Degree In Geography Or Geographic Information Science (GIS)?

Where are the Jobs?


The private sector contains many dynamic and exciting employment opportunities for geographers. Although the number of job descriptions that explicitly include the term "geographer" is relatively low, more and more private sector employers are recognizing the value of geographic analysis in their everyday operations.

Thanks to the synthetic and integrative nature of geography, a plethora of opportunities are available for geographers in the private sector, especially for those candidates who are flexible and able to adapt to the needs of the company. Among the most valued geography skills by corporate employers are those related to spatial thinking and geospatial technology, cartography, location analysis, and economic geography.

Geographers in the private sector are suited to fill a number of different roles within an organization. Their jobs range from environmental consulting to software development and database management. Some other examples of private sector geography jobs include working for large mapping organizations, or in the transportation and logistics departments of major corporations.


State and Local Government

Geographers play an important role in the state and local government, as they are able to understand specific geographic areas by virtue of their extensive education in exploring interactions and linkages within and between places and regions. State and local governments in the United States employ geographers for a variety of jobs focused on topics including transportation, health, environmental planning, metropolitan or rural planning, economic development, and GIS.

Federal Government

Geography is an interdisciplinary field that provides a solid foundation for careers in the federal government. Geographers are employed as scientists, researchers, administrators, resource planners, policy analysts, project managers, and technical specialists across a wide variety of federal agencies. With the call for more evidence-based policy, accountability, and transparency in the public sector, geography is playing an increasingly central role in informing efforts by agencies at all levels of the federal government.


For geographers who seek positions that focus on social, environmental, or development causes, employment in the nonprofit sector may be an excellent fit. Nonprofit organizations pursue a diverse number of causes and visions and offer exciting opportunities for job seekers hoping to make a difference or have a positive impact in a particular field.

Geographers can be found within a broad range of nonprofit organizations whose work coheres around issues as diverse as environmental stewardship, children's advocacy and welfare, domestic and international development, education and health, culture and the arts, historic preservation and heritage conservation, religion, and beyond. With their ability to understand complex relationships between people, place, community, environment, and society, geographers are well positioned to apply their disciplinary perspectives to the nonprofit sector.


Studying geography is excellent preparation for a wide range of teaching positions at all levels of education. Employment opportunities for teachers who are trained as geographers are found almost everywhere. Geographers can teach K-12 and college/university level teaching positions, to informal educational settings such as museums and nature study centers, to more technical settings such as corporate professional development centers teaching GIS or remote sensing skills.

For those with a love of learning, teaching geography offers not only an opportunity to help others gain knowledge and understanding, but also to continue learning themselves. Teachers guide student learning and help model and teach critical thinking skills in students. Teachers and students have an invaluable opportunity to share and learn from their different generations' aspirations for the world and its future.

Professionals with a Conscience

Some of the ways that geographers are making valuable contributions to the work and performance of businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies include:

  • Understanding Social Systems: Geographers analyze the ways in which people interact in economic, political, social, and spatial contexts. Geographers offer a powerful perspective that can help employers take the specific needs and interests of a population into consideration when making decisions.
  • Improving the Environment: Geographers study natural phenomena and work in areas as diverse as conservation, climate change, geology, meteorology, hazards, and natural resource management. Geographers understand human-environment relationships and how to use that information to manage natural resources and to protect the planet as a whole.
  • Enhancing Financial Performance: Geographers, using geospatial tools such as GIS and GPS, are able to map and analyze economic data in search of important spatial patterns and relationships that can significantly enhance business efficiency and profitability. Spatial and temporal analysis is an important component of a geographic education and a skill valued by a large number of business employers.

Information furnished by the American Association of Geographers