If you're passionate about maps an online geography degree could be your ticket to a career as a cartographer or map-maker. Geography is the study of the earth but it is also broader—encompassing a deeper examination of the interaction of humans and the Earth and how this has evolved over time. As a degree major, geography typically has one of two emphases. Physical geography is the study of physical land formations, such watersheds and soil beds, and how these systems develop. Human geography is the study of the interaction between humans and their natural environments. This education teaches you to solve many important issues, such as urban planning, which is a topic that will need to be addressed in the future.
Careers options for geography grads are varied. Simply Hired reports a geography major can make about $50,000. Those who major in this degree area often secure careers as public land planners or cartographers.
THE CAREER PATH
Earning a geography degree online can lead to several solid careers. Mapmakers, also known as cartographers, are among the best known specialists who study physical geography. Urban planners and land use planners often begin with a geography degree program.
You could also use this degree as a launching pad into a job as an environmental consultant, town planner, or geographical information systems officer. The degree could also be used in various positions such as an international aid and development worker, a landscape architect, or a nature conservation officer. Of course, there is also the chance to teach geography, either at the high school level or at the post-secondary level, giving you the chance to develop future geography majors who will add to the field of study.
There are not only many opportunities, but also many benefits that come from this degree field. Studying geography, you will gain excellent research skills, which can be applied to numerous positions in virtually any industry. You’ll also gain analytical skills, which can be used to help companies and organizations make important decisions. Let’s take a closer look at a few of the careers you can enter if you study geography…
- Geographer—The most obvious option is working as a geographer. These professionals study the land, including natural features, as well as the inhabitants. They also examine political and structural boundaries that encompass the globe. Many will also write reports and present their findings to government officials or company leaders. This career brings a median salary of $76,860, which is an excellent income considering that you only need a bachelor’s degree. If you are in the top 10% of the field, you can earn over $104,000, so the opportunity is there for an excellent salary. With a career growth of 7%, it will also give you a steady, reliable career.
- Cartographer—As a cartographer, you will collect geographic data and create displays that help convey data on a visual medium. For example, you might create a map that displays rain totals across a region. You will prepare maps in both digital and graphic form, allowing you to address both environmental and educational purposes. The pay for this career is excellent, but the career growth is one of the best you can find. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, cartographers have a median salary of $63,990, while the top professionals in this career can expect to earn over $100,000. In addition to the salary, the career growth is expected to be 19%, which is over double the national average for all careers (7%).
WHO IS THE IDEAL CANDIDATE?
Geography is one of the most unique and interesting careers, but to have a successful education and a long-term career in the field, you’ll need certain qualities. First of all, you have to have a strong understanding and appreciation for basic mathematical principles. Geometry, which is the mathematical study of shapes and space, will be incredibly important to the geographer and cartographer. Other mathematics, such as algebra, will also be crucial, and you have to understand these principles to truly succeed in geography. If you have enjoyed these classes in the past, you may be the ideal candidate for a geography degree.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR?
If you are ready to make the leap into a geography degree, you need to make sure you have the right program in mind. There are many different geography degrees that you can pursue, so you’ll need to take your time and choose the right one. Check the basic requirements to verify that you meet all the prerequisites before enrolling in the geography classes. While you’re at it, check the coursework to verify that the classes will meet your needs and train you to reach your future goals.
If you think you have what it takes to be a world-class geographer, cartographer, or any of the professionals with a geography degree, it's time to take the plunge. As you are comparing programs, keep in mind the average cost of online degrees. A bachelor's level degree typically costs between $30,000 and $50,000 but many are available at a much lower cost. Compare your options before enrolling to make sure you're getting a good deal.