Approximately 1,500 geographers are employed in the United States, although many other people work in careers that require a major or classwork in geography. Many geographers find employment in colleges, universities, and government agencies. Some work for business and industrial firms. Most of these positions involve teaching or research responsibilities. A small but growing number of geographers work for map companies, textbook publishers, manufacturers, overseas trading firms, chain stores, market research organizations, real estate developers, environmental consulting firms, travel agencies, banks, and investment firms.
Government agencies that hire geographers include the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the Bureau of the Census, and the U.S. Geological Survey. Some geographers work as business consultants, administrators, or planners.
Some beginning jobs are available in teaching geography, mostly in secondary schools. However, high school teaching jobs quite often require study in related fields such as social studies, history, or science. Many beginning geographers find positions connected with map-making in either government or private industry. Some obtain positions as research or teaching assistants while working toward advanced degrees. Others enter the planning field. Geographers with advanced degrees can qualify for teaching and research positions at the college level. Many consulting jobs also are available.
The federal government hires entry-level and experienced workers in several geography specialties. Interested students should arrange to take the required civil service examination. Visit https://www.usajobs.gov for job opportunities with the federal government.
Advancement is dependent on such factors as amount and type of training, experience, and personal interest and motivation. Promotions to jobs requiring more skill and competency are available in all specialty areas. Such jobs are characterized by more administrative, research, or advisory responsibilities in environmental planning.
Tips for Entry
Join professional associations such as the Association of American Geographers (AAG) to access training and networking resources, industry publications, and employment opportunities.
Attend the AAG's annual meeting to network, obtain career mentoring, learn about potential employers, and take continuing education classes.
Read The Annals of the Association of American Geographers and The Professional Geographer (both available at http://www.aag.org/cs/publications) to learn more about the field.
Visit http://jobs.aag.org and http://careers.ncge.org for job listings.
Visit http://www.aag.org/cs/careertips to access career-planning resources from the AAG.