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

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

  • 4169.3: Geographers

2006 NOC-S

  • E038: Other Professional Occupations in Social Science

2011 NOC

  • 4169: Other professional occupations in social science, n.e.c.

2016 NOC

  • 4169: Other professional occupations in social science, n.e.c.

2021 NOC

  • 41409: Other professional occupations in social science

2023 OaSIS

  • 41409.03: Geographers
Updated Apr 11, 2022

Geographers work on a range of issues. For example, they may study spatial processes and patterns at the earth’s surface. Or they may focus on environmental and social change in human and natural systems. They use theories and techniques from the social and natural sciences as well as information technologies (IT). IT systems may include 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 for climate change concerns or urban development
  • 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 Apr 11, 2022
  • Strength Required Lift over 20 kg

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

Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.


2006 NOC: 4169.3

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group

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

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

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 for this NOC group 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 About Interests


Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Traits & Skills
Updated Apr 11, 2022

Geographers need:

  • Communication skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Database-management skills
  • The 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 Apr 11, 2022
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary

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.

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Apr 11, 2022
  • Certification Not Regulated

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

Employment & Advancement
Updated Apr 11, 2022

Geographers may function 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
  • Environmental or heritage resource-management companies
  • Secondary or post-secondary schools
  • Environmental research agencies
  • Electronic mapping and graphic design companies
  • Geographic information systems (GIS) groups
  • Travel and tourism organizations
  • Nongovernmental organizations
  • Not-for-profit organizations
  • Earth observation and geomatics companies
  • Building- and environmental-inspection agencies
  • Statistics- and data-management centres

Geographers may specialize in a wide range of areas. These may include climatology, the environment, 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.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 4169: Other professional occupations in social science, n.e.c. occupational group, 80.2% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 4169: Other professional occupations in social science, n.e.c. occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 2.5% from 2021 to 2025. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 3 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 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.

Source: 2021-2025 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

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

Wage & Salary
Updated Apr 11, 2022

Earnings vary a lot 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.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

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

2016 NOC: 4169
Average Wage
Per Hour
Average Salary
Per Year
Average Hours
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 4169 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

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.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

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.

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $21.00 $42.06 $32.76 $33.00
Overall $23.25 $55.54 $44.68 $43.11
Top $25.00 $80.04 $54.73 $50.69

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.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

Health Care & Social Assistance
Public Administration

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 Apr 11, 2022

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, 2022. 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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