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Geographers study the surface of the earth as the home of humankind. They may focus on physical processes and landforms of the earth. Or they may study the people or communities and their interactions with the physical or built environment.

  • Avg. Salary $77,751.00
  • Avg. Wage $43.03
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary
  • Outlook below avg
  • Employed < 1500
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

Cartographer, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Analyst, Human Geographer, Physical Geographer, Remote Sensing Specialist, 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) 
  • 2016 NOC: Other professional occupations in social science, n.e.c. (4169) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift over 20 kg
Interest Codes
The Geographer is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).

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


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


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

Updated Mar 31, 2019

Geographers work on a range of issues including spatial processes and patterns at the earth’s surface and environmental and social change in human and natural systems. They use theories and techniques from the social and natural sciences. They also use information technologies such as high-end mapping and geomatics techniques, geographical information systems (GIS) and satellite data analysis (remote sensing). They often do fieldwork to collect or verify information.

They may:

  • Evaluate and map the locations of people, services or phenomena
  • Conduct sustainability evaluations, such as 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
  • Provide GIS support to the private and public sectors
  • Advise on site- and land-use planning, such as heritage sites
  • Work with land-use or socioeconomic planners (for more information, see the Community Planner occupational profile)
  • Teach or conduct research relating to climate, landforms, soil and vegetation
  • Teach or research transportation systems, urban structure, resources or industry
  • Teach or research the spatial interactions of geographical regions on a neighbourhood, municipal, provincial, national, international or global scale
  • Summarize complex geographical data and information in reports

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

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Geographers work in offices, laboratories, and classrooms. Those who do field studies may work in a wide variety of environments. These can range from Arctic tundra to rainforest and from cities to rural areas, depending on their specialization. Fieldwork happens in Canada and abroad. In the field, hours of work depend on the weather and duration of the field season.

  • Strength Required Lift over 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Geographers need:

  • Communication skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • An ability to analyze and synthesize information
  • An aptitude for collecting primary data through fieldwork, remote sensing, or geomatics (GIS) databases
  • Knowledge of geographical, environmental, and social issues

They should enjoy:

  • Finding innovative solutions to problems
  • Consulting with others
  • Taking a methodical approach to information gathering
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2019

The minimum education requirement for geographers is a bachelor’s degree in geography. To specialize in a particular area, 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

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

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2019

There is currently no provincial legislation regulating this occupation in Alberta.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2019

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

  • Government departments
  • Private consulting firms doing work on retail siting, marketing, health care planning, or urban or rural planning
  • Communities or 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
  • Travel and tourism organizations
  • Not-for-profit organizations
  • Earth observation and geomatics companies
  • Building and environmental inspection agencies
  • Statistics and data management centres

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. Often, geographers start as technicians. Experienced geographers 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 [pdf] in this occupation is 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 (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation

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

In Alberta, the 4169: Other professional occupations in social science, n.e.c. occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 0% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 0 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the 0 new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Earnings vary considerably depending on the geographer’s responsibilities and qualifications. Entry-level geographers often earn below the average as they have less education and experience.

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

Other professional occupations in social science, n.e.c.

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $25.00 $41.44 $34.37 $34.03
Overall $30.84 $55.02 $43.03 $41.18
Top $34.52 $64.72 $48.62 $44.88

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Industry Information
Public Administration
Health Care & Social Assistance

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years


Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties


Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months


Vacancy Rate

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Environment, Forestry and Related Studies
  • Sciences
  • Social Sciences, Law and Religious Studies
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2019

American Association of Geographers (AAG) website:

Canadian Association of Geographers (CAG) website:

The Royal Canadian Geographical Society (RCGS) website:

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2019. 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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