Careers and Skills in Geography

Teaching used to be a traditional destination for people graduating with geography degrees. Today, however, geographers are spread much further, with many geography graduates building careers in: central and local government as well as in the commercial world.

In building a career, employers often express two sets of expectations of graduates. First, they expect graduates to know one’s stuff which means having a solid grounding in an area of expertise, and having the ability to expand that knowledge. Second, employers expect graduates to have good communication skills.

A feature of the modern job market is that long term employment in one job or role is decreasingly the norm. Consequently, graduates are expected to develop careers that require building a portfolio of skills from a variety of jobs.

There are a wider range of jobs open to well trained and motivated geographers. These include research position ranging from the Waitangi Tribunal to Antarctica, as well as policy oriented jobs in government. Geographers are particularly well equipped for employment in the environmental field with regional and local government as well as private consultancies. For those graduates with technical expertise in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing there is usually a heavy demand from both the public and private sectors. Geographers are trained to be ‘worldly’ and there exist a range of international organisations such as Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) or the United Nations that appreciate geographer’s skills.

If you want a sense of global job market for geographers Earthworks ( provides a very good starting point.