What can I do with a geography degree?
Studying geography develops your analytical and communication skills and your ability to evaluate data, all strengths that are in demand in the graduate jobs market. Like other social science graduates, you have a broad range of career paths open to you, though you may be particularly drawn to areas such as environmental planning, health, politics and international relations. Geography students tend to be open-minded and interested in the world around them, qualities which are attractive to employers and may be a particular advantage if you are working for an international organisation.
This guide should help you think about the skills you have, the jobs they can be applied to, and the options available.
Skills for your CV
Specific skills you will have gained include:
- The ability to view problems from a number of angles.
- The ability to write a professional standard document, as well as effective verbal communication.
- The ability to work to deadlines gained from projects and fieldwork.
- The independence gained from working abroad and producing a report in foreign conditions.
- The ability to work in a group gained from fieldwork or project.
- An analytical approach to people and their environment, which means that geographers should also have developed an objective aptitude for management.
Job roles and career areas you could work in
There are a broad range of careers open to a geography graduate. You could seek work in the private or public sector or in a non-governmental organisation or charity, specialising in an area connected to housing, property, land management, the environment or international development. Alternatively, you could train to become a teacher, take a law conversion course, or apply for the Civil Service Fast Stream or NHS graduate scheme.
Traditionally, employers such as housebuilders have only been willing to recruit geography graduates into land management roles if they had undertaken an industry-approved postgraduate conversion course. However, some of these companies have recently opened up their graduate schemes to applications from geography graduates fresh from university.
With further qualifications or training, job roles open to you include the following:
- commercial, residential or rural surveyor
- environmental manager
- exploration geologist
- facilities manager
- geographic information systems manager
- geomatics/land surveyor
- landscape architect
- nature conservation officer
- recycling officer
- tourist information officer
- town and country planner
- transportation planner
- travel agent
- waste disposal officer
- water conservation officer
If you are keen to work in an area that involves protecting the environment or promoting sustainability, our advice on green careers sets out your options.
What do geography graduates go on to do?
Here’s what geography graduates who finished their degrees in 2016 were doing six months after graduating, according to the What do graduates do? report published in 2017.
|Full-time employment in the UK||46.2|
|Part-time employment in the UK||10.4|
|Working and studying||5.6|
Source: What do graduates do? 2017
Key areas of employment for fresh geography graduates
These are the top five areas of work taken up by 2016 geography graduates six months after graduation, according to the 2017 What do graduates do? report.
|Areas of employment||Percentage|
|Business, HR and finance professionals||21.7|
|Retail, catering, waiting and bar staff||15.1|
|Marketing, PR and sales professionals||13.0|
|Clerical, secretarial and numerical clerks||8.4|
Source: What do graduates do? 2017
Which careers attract geography and environmental science students?
Energy and utilities was the most popular career choice for students of geography and environmental science identified by a 2018 survey of more than 60,000 undergraduates carried out by trendence UK, a partner of TARGETjobs’ parent company GTI. More than one in ten (14.8%) of geography and environmental science students who participated in the survey said they were interested in this area. The most popular careers for students of geography and environmental science were as follows:
|Energy and utilities||14.8% expressed an interest|
|Construction, civil engineering and surveying||11.5|
|Charity and not-for-profit||5.3|
|Engineering, design and manufacture||4.5|
Source: trendence UK Graduate Survey 2018
Famous people with geography degrees
If none of these options appeal to you, there are plenty of other things you can do. These well-known graduates were once geography students:
- Theresa May – initially worked in finance after graduating, before going into politics and becoming prime minister in 2016.
- Prince William – studied at the University of St Andrews, where he met his future wife Kate Middleton.
- Hugh Dennis – the actor and comedian studied at the University of Cambridge before becoming famous as the dad in Outnumbered and a regular participant on Mock the Week.