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Online Colleges for Geography

While geography reflects the study of the Earth and its features, the field itself has almost limitless variables and possible career paths. Geographers can specialize in the natural elements of their surroundings--rivers, mountains, and plants and animals. At the other end of the spectrum, individuals with related degrees can work as urban and transportation geographers, studying the systems developed in cities. Cultural geography studies how the humans who live in a region can affect it through social, political and other activities. Ultimately, many geographers use their educational backgrounds and technical expertise in an advisory capacity, suggesting solutions to their for-profit, nonprofit or government employers.

Geography Online Programs

Geography frequently falls under the category of social science, which also includes anthropology, archaeology, economics, history, psychology and sociology. Because the study of the Earth crosses into these categories and more, many online geography degrees are part of a broader, interdisciplinary education. Online programs may confer bachelor of arts or science degrees, or you may choose to further pursue a master's-level program or a doctorate or Ph.D. Common areas include social science or a cross disciplinary path through interdisciplinary studies, liberal studies or general studies. Higher-level degrees are often most desirable for work within a specific social-science field; however, bachelor's-degree holders may find work in research or market analysis or as K-12 teachers. Master's and Ph.D. qualifications are often a requirement for higher education teaching positions or specific geographer positions.

Career paths are many and varied for people with geography and other social science degrees. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that jobs for geographers are expected to increase by 26 percent, 2008-2018, primarily due to the federal government's growth and position as a employer. Positions outside the federal government could include helping a variety of businesses, utilities and local governments that develop their physical infrastructure. The mean annual wages for geographers were $72,890, according to 2010 BLS data. If you pursue a teaching position, the mean annual wages listed for a college-level instructor in 2010 were $71,230. For bachelor's-degree holders who pursue careers in research, the mean earned wages for market research analysts and marketing specialists were $66,850. Because many related positions require work with GIS (geographic information systems), you might want to consider a voluntary certification program from the GIS Certification Institute. The BLS indicated that these certifications could assist candidates with finding employment, especially when the candidates do not already hold higher-level degrees in the field. Other occupations that could interest those who like the field include positions for conservation scientists and specialists, geoscientists and hydrologists, and urban and regional planners.

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