Geography and Cartographic Studies

While geographers may study population patterns and climate change, cartographers might develop road creation plans and modern mapping technology. Continue reading to learn more about educational and employment options, earnings and responsibilities for geographers and cartographers.

Are Studies in Geography and Cartography for Me?

Career Overview

Geography is the study of the earth, its features and its phenomena, while cartography is the science of map-making. Professional geographers and cartographers may also study the relationship between regions and their residents' political orientations, explore how natural disasters could affect certain areas and track population growth. Areas of specialization can include physical, political, regional or medical geography, environmental planning or geotechniques. Geographers and cartographers can work for the federal government, scientific research institutions or private businesses.

Career Options and Job Duties

If you become a remote sensing specialist, you'll gather aerial photos and determine what should be included on maps, choosing different symbols and colors to represent the various features. If you decide to pursue a career in land surveying, you might measure distances, determine boundaries and explore the depths of bodies of water. As a cartographer, you'll use global positioning technology, photos and surveys to create accurate maps. You could also pursue a career as a map editor, high school geography teacher, zoning investigator or land developer.

Earning your master's or doctorate in geography or cartography may lead to employment as a regional planner. In this position, your responsibilities might include assessing layouts of geographic regions and creating construction plans for roads and buildings. You may also research neighborhood revitalization projects, resolve traffic jams and make sure that new stores are easily accessible to shoppers. Completion of a graduate program could also qualify you for a position as a climatologist or map curator.

Employment and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that employment of cartographers, geographers and photogrammetrists was expected to increase by a faster-than-average rate nationwide between 2012 and 2022. Average growth in employment opportunities was projected for mapping and surveying technicians and surveyors during the same 10-year period. According to the BLS in May 2013, the median annual salary for geographers was $74,750, while cartographers and photogrammetrists earned $58,840. In the same year, surveyors had median annual incomes of $56,590, while surveying and mapping technicians earned $40,670 (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Work in Geography and Cartography?

Overview of Educational Programs

Geography and cartography are often studied together. In particular, you'll have the chance to learn about the natural resources, climates, animals and plants found around the globe. You'll also study how human factors affect geography, and learn how to document the changing features of the earth. Many careers in geography and cartography do not require a formal education; however, training in geographic principles and technology can be beneficial. Undergraduate and graduate certificate and degree programs are available in geographic studies, cartographic studies and geographic information systems (GIS).

Certificate Programs

As short-term courses of study, certificate programs can update your knowledge of current developments in geography and cartography. They can also provide you with training in the latest technologies, which may help you stand out in the job market.

Undergraduate Programs

In an undergraduate degree program in geography and cartography, you can study global environmental systems, world culture and map-making principles. You may also learn how to obtain and interpret geographic images, analyze landscapes and utilize digital map technology.

Graduate Programs

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 and plan a coast's development. You might also determine economic development opportunities and create transportation models. The geographic and cartographic skills acquired in a graduate program may be applicable to other career fields and might increase your job prospects and earning potential.

Required Skills

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.

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