Geography and Cartography

Cartography involves the creation of maps. Geography is the study of humans and the environment in which they live. Together, the two fields are applied to research in a host of areas, such as climatology, agriculture, the environment and marketing.

Inside Geography and Cartography

Geography and cartography are interrelated social and natural sciences dealing with the characteristics of the Earth's surface, the people who inhabit different areas of the planet and map making. Cartography employs geographic information systems (GIS) technology to create computerized maps for tracking diverse types of information, such as population growth, environmental hazards, traffic patterns, natural resources and weather patterns.

Educational Options

Academic programs blend training in cartography, geography and GIS technologies at both undergraduate and graduate levels. Geography applies studies of natural environments and human activity to map making in order to accurately depict information about a particular area. Concentrations within these programs include human or physical geography, GIS and relationships between society and the environment.

A bachelor's degree that includes GIS training provides preparation for many different job opportunities. Advanced degree programs can also offer skills training for individuals interested in teaching or conducting research on a specific aspect of geography or cartography. Read the following articles for more information.

Distance Learning

Geography and cartography students can earn their degrees or complete continuing education online. Some options are listed below.

Career Opportunities

Graduates of geography and cartography can expect a strong job market with many different career opportunities. Professionals with an associate degree or certificate-level training generally work as technicians in the fields of geography and cartography. Graduates with a bachelor's degree in geography can qualify for careers in education, climatology, environmental conservation, demography and resource management.

Graduate degrees could be required for advanced positions in the above industries and may offer additional opportunities in urban or regional planning. Earning a degree in cartography could lead to a career in research, GIS development, specialty map making or education. The articles below outline just a few of the possibilities.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) projected a 20% growth in jobs from 2012-2022 for cartographers, with the best prospects expected for those with strong skills and a bachelor's degree. The popularity of GPS (global positioning systems) in cars and mobile phones, along with online interactive maps, has created more demand for graduates with GIS training. The geographer profession is very small, but a job growth rate of 29% was predicted for the 2012-2022 decade, with prospects best for those with GIS experience and advanced degrees.

The BLS reported the average annual wage for cartographers in May 2012 was $61,640, with the majority of professionals working for architectural firms, engineering services and local government agencies. Geographers primarily worked for the federal government, though architecture, engineering and academic industries also employed these specialists. The BLS stated that geographers earned an average salary of $74,020 in May 2012.

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