Thinking about studying geography at GCSE or A-level? There's a lot more to it than just volcanoes, field trips and colouring in maps, in fact there's a whole host of cool careers in geography out there.
Combining both social and physical sciences, geography is all about looking at how we affect our environment and how our environment affects us. The subject is typically divided into two main areas:
- Physical geography, which deals with climate, atmosphere, soil, streams, landforms, and oceans.
- Human geography, which looks at people, cultures, and migration.
Whether you're weighing it up as a GCSE choice, or you're about to start a degree, this subject is way more than just filler for your CV. Want to seriously impress potential employers? Fancy learning a whole range of transferable skills? Geography just might be the subject for you.
What are the benefits of geography for my career?
Okay, so you’re probably wondering what careers in geography you can do if you study it at school or university. After all, if journalism students can become journalists and law students have the chance of becoming lawyers, what jobs do geography graduates and students choose? Do they become geographers?
Well, sort of.
Whilst geographers can choose to specialise in a particular field of geography, like mapping ("cartography") or researching population growth, there are a huge number of jobs to do with geography for graduates of the subject. So what exactly are your options?
'Careers in geography range from journalism and law to weather forecasting and architecture'
Check out our list of careers in geography to see five cool jobs a degree in the subject could help you bag:
If I want to be a writer I have to study journalism or media, right? Wrong. The great thing about journalism is that there's so many different fields and areas of expertise. From politics to sport, if you're knowledgeable about a subject, you're pretty much qualified to write about it.
But how exactly does that relate to a geography degree? Although they might sound drastically different, both journalism and geography place a lot of importance on research. What's more, your geography degree might actually help you stand out from the crowd. Whilst (almost) all journalism students can write clearly, not everyone knows about soil erosion or global warming.
If you have a geography qualification and a flair for words, why not use it to your advantage and focus on a topic directly related to geography? Love exploring other cultures? You could become a travel writer. Fascinated by climate change and environmental issues? You could carve out a niche as a science journalist.
Check out our interview with Wannabe Hacks to find out more about getting into journalism.
2. Environmental lawyer
Are you passionate about the environment? Maybe you're worried about the carbon "footprint" humans are leaving on our planet. If so, you might want to consider environmental science jobs in an area like law..
Environmental lawyers typically focus on things such as climate control, energy sources, pollution, and corporate social responsibility (that's making sure businesses try to manage the impact they might have on the environment or a group of people).
Aside from a law degree, those looking to forge a career in this area will need a passion for the cause, strong research skills and the ability to analyse and interpret complex data. Do these skills sound a little familiar? They should. They're all things you'll pick up studying geography, which could make it the perfect springboard to an environmental science job.
3. Weather forecaster
Being a weather forecaster is more than just predicting rain and making hand gestures in front of a blue screen on TV. And, luckily, a geography degree can often help with the more complicated aspects of the job.
For example, weather forecasters often use their geographical knowledge (weather patterns and meteorology) to interpret local and global weather systems. Plus, they frequently rely on their soft skills (communication and data analysis) to help present weather reports in an easily to understand way.
4. Catastrophe modeller or emergency planner
Any job that combines the words ‘catastrophe’ and ‘model’ is bound to be pretty cool. Are you the type of person who prides themselves on planning for the worst and keeping cool in a crisis? Perhaps you're fascinated by hurricanes, earthquakes and other natural hazards? You might make a perfect emergency planner or catastrophe modeller.
Emergency planners typically play a key role in planning for and responding to threats to public safety. By assessing risks, analysing data and carrying out safety exercises, emergency planners can help people prepare for acts of terrorism, natural disasters and global epidemics.
Catastrophe modellers, on the other hand, are responsible for using data and computer calculations to help insurance companies assess how much they stand to lose in the event of a natural disaster. If you're good with numbers and enjoy working under pressure, this could be the career for you.
5. Landscape architect
Just because you have a science-based qualification, doesn't mean you can't go for a creative career. If you're looking for jobs to do with geography that include a design element, look no further than landscape architect.
Landscape architects are responsible for helping to design sustainable outdoor environments like parks, nature reserves and industrial landscapes. Who said science couldn’t be creative?!
If reading about these awesome jobs has whetted your appetite for careers in geography, check out our infographic, which shows the areas of work and the jobs within them that geography could lead to.