Physical geographers: Salary, career path, job outlook, education and more

Physical geographers examine the physical aspects of a region and how they relate to humans. They study features of the natural environment, such as landforms, climates, soils, natural hazards, water, and plants. For example, physical geographers may map where a natural resource occurs in a country or study the implications of proposed economic development on the surrounding natural environment.

Education Required
Geographers with a bachelors degree qualify for most entry-level jobs and for positions with the federal government. Geographers outside of the federal government may need a masters degree in geography or in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Some positions allow candidates to substitute work experience or GIS proficiency for an advanced degree. Top research positions usually require a Ph.D., or a masters degree and several years of relevant work experience.
Job Outlook
The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026: 6% (As fast as average)
(The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.)
Although certification is not required, most positions require geographers to be proficient in GIS, and certification can demonstrate a level of professional expertise. The GIS Certification Institute offers the GIS Professional (GISP) certification for geographers. Candidates may qualify for certification through a combination of education, professional experience, and contributions to the profession, such as publications or participation in conferences. The American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing also offers certification in GIS. Candidates may qualify for certification with 3 years of experience in GIS, four references, and the passing of a written exam.
Median pay: How much do Geographers make?
$74,260 Annual Salary
$35.70 per hour

Careers for Geographers

  • Biogeographers
  • Cultural geographers
  • Economic geographers
  • Environmental geographers
  • GIS geographers
  • Geomorphologists
  • Glaciologists
  • Human geographers
  • Medical geographers
  • Political geographers
  • Regional geographers
  • Urban and transportation geographers

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