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Working as a Geographer: Skills and Education Needed

February 18, 2023 · 5 min read

A geographer is a professional who studies the physical and human characteristics of the Earth's surface. Geographers use their knowledge to analyze and interpret the relationships between human populations and their physical environments.

Some of the specific tasks that geographers may perform include:

  1. Collecting and analyzing geographic data: Geographers use a variety of tools and technologies, including geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing, and spatial analysis, to collect and analyze geographic data.
  2. Studying the physical and cultural characteristics of regions: Geographers study the physical and cultural characteristics of regions, including topography, climate, vegetation, and land use patterns, as well as the social, economic, and political factors that shape these regions.
  3. Analyzing the relationships between human populations and their environments: Geographers study the relationships between human populations and their environments, including the impact of human activities on the natural environment and the ways in which human populations are influenced by their physical surroundings.
  4. Planning and managing land use: Geographers may work with planners and policymakers to plan and manage land use, including the development of land-use policies, urban and regional planning, and environmental management.
  5. Developing and using geographic information systems (GIS): Geographers use GIS to analyze and interpret geographic data, and may also be involved in developing and maintaining GIS systems and databases.
  6. Conducting research: Geographers may conduct independent or collaborative research on a variety of geographic topics, including climate change, land use, urbanization, and cultural geography.

Overall, geographers play a critical role in understanding and addressing the complex relationships between human populations and their physical environments, and in developing sustainable and equitable solutions to the challenges facing our planet.


What should one learn to become a Geographer?

Becoming a geographer typically requires a strong education in geography and related fields, as well as practical experience and specialized skills. Here are some of the key areas of study and skills that you should consider learning if you want to become a geographer:

  1. Geographic theory and methods: You will need to learn about the fundamental theories, concepts, and methods used in geography, including physical geography, cultural geography, and geospatial analysis.
  2. Geographical Information Systems (GIS): GIS is a critical tool for geographers, and you will need to learn how to use GIS software to collect, analyze, and display geographic data.
  3. Remote sensing: You should learn about remote sensing techniques, including satellite and aerial imagery, and how they can be used to gather information about the Earth's surface.
  4. Statistical and quantitative analysis: Geographers often use statistical and quantitative methods to analyze geographic data, so you should consider learning about statistical analysis and data modeling.
  5. Environmental science: Environmental science is an important area of study for geographers, as it provides a deep understanding of the natural processes that shape the Earth's surface and the impact of human activities on the environment.
  6. Social science: Social science disciplines, such as economics, sociology, and political science, can provide valuable insights into the human dimensions of geography, including population patterns, land use, and cultural and political systems.
  7. Communication and presentation skills: As a geographer, you will need to communicate your findings and recommendations to a variety of audiences, so it's important to develop strong communication and presentation skills.
  8. Writing skills: You should also develop strong writing skills, as you may be required to write reports, papers, and other documents as part of your work as a geographer.

In addition to formal education, practical experience through internships, summer jobs, or volunteer work can be an important part of the education process and can help you build the skills you need to succeed as a geographer.


Skills needed to be a professional Geographer

To be a professional geographer, you will need to develop a wide range of skills, including both technical and soft skills. Here are some of the key skills you should consider developing: 

  1. Analytical skills:
    • Problem-solving: Geographers must be able to identify and analyze complex geographic issues, and develop effective solutions to address these issues.
    • Critical thinking: Good critical thinking skills are essential for geographers, as they need to evaluate data, draw conclusions, and make recommendations based on their findings.
  2. Adaptability:
    • Ability to work independently: Geographers often work independently or in small teams, so they need to be self-motivated and able to work effectively without close supervision.
    • Flexibility: Geographers may work on a variety of projects, so they need to be flexible and adaptable, and able to work on projects with different goals, timelines, and methods.
  3. Attention to detail: Geographers need to be meticulous and detail-oriented, as they often work with complex data sets and need to ensure that their work is accurate and reliable.
  4. Cultural competency: Geographers often work with communities and stakeholders from diverse cultural backgrounds, so cultural competency and sensitivity to diversity are important.

Overall, a combination of technical and soft skills is essential for success as a geographer. You should continually strive to develop and improve these skills through education, work experience, and professional development opportunities.

by Olena Kukhtyk

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