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What Geographers Do

Geographers study the earth and its land, features, and inhabitants. They also examine phenomena such as political or cultural structures as they relate to geography. They study the physical or human geographic characteristics or both of a region, ranging in scale from local to global. 


Geographers typically do the following:

Geographers use several technologies in their work, such as GIS, remote sensing, and global positioning systems (GPS). Geographers use GIS to find relationships and trends in geographic data. GIS allows them to present data visually as maps, reports, and charts. For example, a geographer can overlay aerial or satellite images with GIS data, such as population density in a given region, and create computerized maps. They then use the results to advise governments, businesses, and the general public on a variety of issues, such as marketing strategies; planning homes, roads, and landfills; or disaster responses. 

In addition, many people who study geography and who work with GIS technology work in other occupations. For more information on these related occupations, see the profiles on surveyors, cartographers and photogrammetrists, surveying and mapping technicians, urban and regional planners, and geoscientists.

The following are examples of common geographer specialties:

Physical geographers examine the physical aspects of a region. They study features of the natural environment such as land forms, climates, soils, vegetation, water, plants, and animals. For example, they may map where a natural resource occurs in a country and analyze its implications. 

Human geographers, also known as cultural geographers, analyze the organization of human activity and its relationships with the physical environment. Human geographers often combine issues from other disciplines into their research, which may include economic, social, or political topics. In their research, some rely primarily on statistical techniques, while others rely on nonstatistical sources, such as field observations and interviews. 

Many human geographers are further classified by their area of specialty:

Some people with a geography background become professors and teachers. For more information, see the profile on postsecondary teachers.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition