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Geographer

Geographers study the surface of the earth as the home of human kind. They may focus on physical properties of the earth, or the human or built environment.

  • Avg. Salary $87,546.00
  • Avg. Wage $44.18
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary
  • Outlook N/A
  • Employed < 1500
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

Cartographer, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Analyst, Human Geographer, Physical Geographer, Research Scientist, Social Scientist

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Geographers (4169.3) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Other Professional Occupations in Social Science (E038) 
  • 2011 NOC: Other professional occupations in social science, n.e.c. (4169) 
Interest Codes
The Geographer is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Geographers
INNOVATIVE

Interest in co-ordinating information to analyze data, and to incorporate in studies knowledge from related fields such as geology, biology, meteorology, economics, demography, political science, sociology and history

DIRECTIVE

Interest in consulting with governments and international, educational, industrial and other organizations on how to determine administrative and political boundaries, how to measure, evaluate and control environmental pollution, and how to assess actual and potential land uses, remote sensing applications and census design; and in compiling and designing maps and atlases

METHODICAL

Interest in handling equipment to collect, observe and measure data and remote sensing information

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Mar 17, 2016

Geographers work on a diverse range of issues including spatial organization, processes and patterns at the earth's surface, and environmental and social change in both human and natural systems. Geographers employ theories and techniques from the social and natural sciences as well as information technologies, such as high end mapping techniques, use of geographical information systems (GIS) and satellite analysis (remote sensing).

They may:

  • evaluate and map the locations of people, services or phenomena
  • conduct sustainability evaluations (for example, climate change concerns)
  • provide advice on environmental issues
  • identify new retail site locations
  • prepare regional health service plans
  • study the effects of pollutants and epidemics on people in particular places
  • provide geographical information systems support to the private and public sector
  • advise on heritage site plans
  • work with land use or socio-economic planners (for more information, see the Community Planner occupational profile)
  • teach or conduct research relating to people and social systems, climate, landforms, soils, vegetation, transportation systems, urban structure, resources, industry or the spatial interactions of geographical regions at different scales (neighbourhood, municipal, provincial, national, international, global).

Geographers use laboratory, statistical, interview and field techniques to collect data. They often use computerized data analysis, qualitative or quantitative survey material, or remotely sensed imagery. For example, they may use survey data to examine urban, rural and social issues, or GIS and Image Analysis Systems (IAS) technologies for planning and resource management.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 17, 2016

Geographers work in offices, laboratories and classrooms. Those who also conduct field studies may experience a wide variety of environments ranging from Arctic tundra to rainforest, and from cities to rural areas, in both Canada and abroad, depending on their specialization. In the field, hours of work depend on the weather and the duration of the field season.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 17, 2016

Geographers need the following characteristics:

  • the ability to analyze and synthesize information
  • strong oral and written communication skills
  • problem solving skills
  • an interest in collecting data through field work.

They should enjoy analyzing data and finding innovative solutions to problems, consulting with others and making decisions and taking a methodical approach to information gathering.

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 17, 2016

The minimum education requirement for geographers is a bachelor's degree in geography. To specialize in a particular area of geography, a master's degree or a doctoral (PhD) degree is required.


Required Education

The following schools offer programs and courses that meet this occupation’s educational requirements. Other eligible programs and courses may be available.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Mount Royal University

University of Manitoba - Winnipeg

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 17, 2016

Certification is not required, as there is currently no legislation regulating this occupation.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 17, 2016

Geographers may be employed as environmental consultants, resource managers, urban or regional planners, geography specialists or advisors. They may work for:

  • municipal, provincial or federal governments
  • private consulting firms doing work on retail siting, marketing, health care planning, urban or rural planning
  • communities and international development agencies
  • organizations involved in heritage site planning
  • post-secondary schools
  • environmental research agencies
  • electronic mapping and graphic design companies
  • geographic information systems (GIS) groups
  • organizations in the travel and tourism industry.

Geographers may specialize in areas such as climatology, environmental studies, developing countries, resource management, transportation studies, land use planning, social service delivery planning or medical geography. They also may advance to supervisory or administrative positions.

Geographers are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 4169: Other Professional Occupations in Social Science. In Alberta, 79% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 17, 2016

Salaries vary considerably depending on the geographer's responsibilities and qualifications.

Geographers are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 4169: Other professional occupations in social science, n.e.c.

According to the 2017 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Other professional occupations in social science, n.e.c. occupational group earned on average from $34.92 to $47.66 an hour. The overall average was $44.18 an hour. For more information, see the Other professional occupations in social science, n.e.c. wage profile.

Related High School Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Mathematics
  • Science
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
  • Social Studies
  • Business, Administration, Finance and IT
    • Management and Marketing
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Sciences
  • Social Sciences, Law and Religious Studies
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 17, 2016

American Association of Geographers (AAG) website: www.aag.org

Canadian Association of Geographers (CAG) website: www.cag-acg.ca

Royal Canadian Geographical Society (RCGS) website: www.rcgs.org

For more information on career planning, education and jobs call the Alberta Supports Contact Centre toll-free at 1-877-644-9992 or 780-644-9992 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Mar 09, 2016. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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