College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Discover Geography 1
Discover Geography 2
Discover Geography 3

Why Geography?

Students who choose to major in geography do so for many different reasons.

Reason 1 – Breadth of Knowledge

The average American changes careers 4-6 times in their lifetime. Geography majors are equipped with the knowledge and skills to move smoothly between a variety of careers.

Reason 2 – Global Society

Geography prepares students to work within a GLOBAL economy.

Reason 3 – Environment

Geography studies human-environment interactions, critical to human well-being. This importance only increases as populations increase.

Reason 4 – Travel

Geography students develop cross-cultural interpersonal skills, a competitive edge for future careers or graduate school.

Geography job growth

Reason 5 – Job Growth

The median annual wage for geographers was $80,300 as of May 2018. 

The top industries in which they worked?

  • Federal government (excluding postal service): $86,310
  • Architectural (engineering and related services): $68,540
  • State government (excluding education and hospitals): $59,430

Governments and businesses rely on geographers to research topics such as natural hazards, the use of resources, and climate change. For example, geographers’ analyses on population distribution and land use are important for infrastructure planning and development used by both governments and businesses.

Those with master’s degrees, specialized subject matter expertise, and experience working with geographic technologies, such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS), should have the best job prospects. Workers who have used geographic technologies to complete projects and solve problems within their specialized subfields should have better job opportunities.

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics and Employment Projections program

Reason 6 – Geospatial Tools

Our majors utilize the most powerful analytical tools related to space and resource management.

  • Cartography
  • Remote sensing
  • GPS (global positioning systems)
  • GIS(T) (geographic information systems and technology)

GISWhat is GIS(T)?

Geographic Information Science and Technology, or GIS(T), is a discipline that studies data structures and computational techniques to capture, represent, process and analyze geographic information.

  • Retailers use GIS(T) to identify the most profitable site in neighborhoods by monitoring rent, traffic patterns, demographics of shoppers and location, location, location.
  • With Delivery Routing Software, anything is possible: transportation is now routing with time windows, vehicle constraints, multiple depots, route length constraints and mixed pickup and delivery.
  • Because crops are location-based, GIS-T is an EXTREMELY relevant tool for farmers, who use precision GPS on the field to save fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides.

Why Learn GIS(T)?

The geographic information system (GIS) market valued $10.8 billion in 2018, is expected to register a CAGR of 10.7% during the forecast period. Factors including rising investments in geographic information system solutions primarily by government, increased availability of spatial data and cloud technology, and rising adoption of geographic information system for location as a service (LaaS) application is propelling the growth of the GIS market.

Among all regions, North America was the largest market for GIS in 2018, and public sectors including homeland security and defense, plays a major role in the growth of the market in the region. Geographic information system can help agencies, such as the homeland security, in times of terror attack, such as in case of explosion of a biological weapon, to determine the radius of the attack and take preventive measures.

Global GIS Market

*Source: P&S Market Research, 2018

Career Advancement

80% of data is geographic, which makes geography graduates adapt for many technical and scientific careers.

  • Demographics: Census Data…
  • Transportation: Roads, Traffic, & Signs …    
  • Economics: Real estate and labor data…
  • Environment: Air, water quality data…

Not Looking to Major? 

GIST coursework is beneficial for many majors, with the opportunity to learn some of the 67 important GIS applications and uses.

Geography students also cover all of the important job skills needed in 2020, including:

  • Data Literacy
  • Critical Thinking
  • Tech Savviness
  • Adaptability and Flexibility  
  • Creativity
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Cultural Intelligence
  • Leadership and Collaboration Skills
  • Judgement and Complex Decision Making
  • Self Management Skills
  • Ability to Embrace and Celebrate Change

Wind EnergyGeospatial Science

Geospatial science covers topics such as:

  • Environment (e.g. real-time air pollution monitoring and visualization)
  • Urban Planning (e.g. GSU campus walkway lighting for safe route)
  • Transportation (e.g. modes of transportation detection using smartphone)

Potential jobs include:

  • Government spatial data specialist (NASA, NOAA, NGIA, CDC,  CIA, DOT, etc.)
  • IT/GIS specialist (Google, Facebook, Twitter, US Marines, Army, Navy, Airforce)
  • Research associate (Various institutes and universities)
  • Project Manager/GIS Analyst/Planner (Walmart, Walgreens, Oil Companies, City Manager/Planner, Market Analyst)
  • GIS Crime and Predictive Policing Analyst

Field-based Research/Study/Jobs

Potential jobs include:  

  • Environmental Manager/Consultant
  • Recreation Analyst
  • Park Ranger
  • Economic Development Analyst
  • National Geospatial Security Analyst
  • Climatologist
  • Broadcast Meteorologist
  • Environmental Consultant
  • Hydrologist
  • Geo-engineer
  • Natural Hazards Insurance Analyst
  • Agronomy GIS specialist

UNI geography alumni are employed by:

  • Iowa Northland Regional Council of Governments (INRCOG)
  • Utility Data Contractors in Waukesha, WI and Dubuque County
  • Iowa Northland Regional Council of Governments
  • Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship
  • Garmin
  • John Deere
  • Aerial Services, Inc.
  • and many more!