Career outlook good for geography

By Niccolo Barber, Staff Writer

Employers are hiring postgraduate geography students in increasing numbers, especially ones trained to work with the geographical information system technology that the U is encouraging students to understand.

Harvey Miller, chairman of the U’s geography department, said the career outlook for geography majors is exceptional right now. He said the National Academy of Sciences reports that geotechnology is one of the fastest growing technologies in terms of job growth.

“Geography is about the earth as home to humanity,” Miller said. “In that sense, it bridges the physical and human sciences.”

Students from the department gathered information about career opportunities and how students can integrate technology with their major during the department’s annual Geography Awareness Week.

The field encompasses a wide range of studies, including climate change, real estate markets, avalanches and even terrorism.

“It’s all about how humans use the earth and the earth affects human lives,” Miller said. “We are the only department that directly studies the interaction between human beings and the environment,” he said.

This interaction reaches past traditional human-environment studies. Some geographers focus their careers on the study of urban development and civil engineering.

Sam Stehle, a sophomore in geography, is optimistic about job opportunities upon graduation.

“The opportunities are great to graduate and get a job with a geography major,” he said. “That’s also a testament to the U’s program.”

A growing career in the geography world is centered on geographical information systems, a technology that integrates map-making and data collecting.

The information systems provide mass amounts of geographical data, which helps experts analyze spatial patterns and view the data in a more holistic manner, Miller said.

GIS also helps geographers simulate the future. For example, a geographer will be able to better predict the impact of rising sea levels or how building a new highway will affect a city.

The U’s geography department offers a certificate in GIS.

“If you get a GIS certificate, you would pretty much be employable anywhere,” said Canyon Evans, a senior environmental studies major who is considering pursing a second degree in geography.

Geography senior Scott Dickson is also aware of the advantage of the certificate program.

“It’s a matter of doubling your pay scale in the field,” Dickson said.

Miller said students who have worked with GIS have job opportunities in business, transportation, real estate and government.

The department is attracting many students interested in a scientific and technical career, Miller said.

“We want to know why the world is configured the way it is and how we can make it better,” he said.

[email protected]nicle.utah.edu