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Geography Master's Degree: Salary & Jobs

Sep 07, 2017

A master's degree in geography can be applied to several geoscience and social science careers. Find out about a handful of these career options, their median salaries and expected job growth rates.

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Geography looks at a wide range of Earth's characteristics, including topographical features, populations, resources and more. There are several different careers that incorporate geography in various ways, such as explaining why cultures in particular areas hold the values they do or what kind of development would be best for a certain location, and a master's degree program in geography could qualify graduates for advanced positions in these fields. Explore a few of the related careers for those with a master's degree in geography.

Related Careers for a Master's Degree in Geography

Job Title Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Geographers $74,260 -2% (Decline)
Economists $101,050 6%
Urban and Regional Planners $70,020 6%
Geoscientists $89,780 10%
Anthropologists and Archeologists $63,190 4%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

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Career Descriptions

Geographers

A clear career choice for those with a master's degree in geography is that of a geographer, who is typically required to have a master's degree for more advanced positions. Geographers study the physical features of Earth, but also the inhabitants and human geographic characteristics. This includes studying political structures, cultures and more on small and large scales. These professionals use geographic information systems (GIS), surveys, interviews and other data collection methods to collect data, analyze it and present their findings in reports, updated maps, graphs and more.

Economists

Economists usually need at least a master's degree, and a background in geography could help these professionals better understand and offer unique insights into the distribution of resources and goods by taking into account the geographical nature of a particular area. Similar to geographers, these professionals may work on a local to global scale to examine various economic issues and market trends in order to predict future trends. They may collect data through surveys and offer their findings in reports that are used to develop policies for businesses, governments and other organizations. Specializations in the field include behavioral economists, international economists, labor economists, financial economists and more.

Urban and Regional Planners

Most urban and regional planners are required to have a master's degree to work with communities on various development projects. Knowledge in geography may give these planners additional insights into what projects may be best for a particular area taking into account geographic land features and human geographic characteristics of the area. These planners work closely with local officials and the public to determine the needs of an area and develop land-use and project plans. These plans are presented to the public, monitored for compliance with current regulations and usually based on extensive research data that take into account environmental, economic and market factors.

Geoscientists

Some geoscientists may choose to pursue a master's degree for more advanced positions, and a background in geography provides a well-rounded education for these professionals concerning Earth and its structure. Geoscientists also explore the planet's past, present and future by conducting field studies and analyzing aerial photos, rock samples and other resources. Their work is often used to help locate and extract natural resources, as well as to make various kinds of geologic maps. There are a variety of geoscientists, including geochemists, geophysicists, seismologists, engineering geologists, oceanographers and more.

Anthropologists and Archeologists

Anthropologists and archeologists are required to have at least a master's degree to study the behavior and origins of humans. A master's degree in geography could help offer understanding and insight into the physical features, culture and other characteristics of these populations in particular areas. These scientists conduct their research on cultures that are designed to be specific to the area, and may conduct interviews and/or observations. They analyze their data to try to discover patterns in human life and culture, which are then reported in scientific articles and presentations.

A master's degree in geography has many applications not only to the physical sciences, but to the social sciences as well. Most of these careers incorporate geographical research and data in some way and usually offer relatively high median salaries (greater than $60,000, per the BLS).

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