What can I do with a degree in Geography?

Dr Malcolm Campbell research

Geography is an exciting and distinctive discipline at the interface between Science and Arts. It also has links to Law, Sociology, Engineering, Computer Science and Health Sciences. Its focus is on finding innovative solutions to problems faced by global society, including climate change, poverty, sustainability, health and inequality.

We aim to provide courses and learning that will enable you to make a difference in your chosen career path after university. The relationships between people and their environments - and the sustainability of these interactions - is a key theme. For example, geographers can study the physical factors and the human responses to the challenges created by climate change.

Through their Geography degree, graduates gain a valuable set of transferable skills such as:

  • Wide-ranging analytical skills, including cultural, statistical and geospatial analysis
  • Ability to identify positive and negative aspects of the interaction between human activities and the environment
  • Practical application of sustainability concepts
  • Ability to design and carry out research projects
  • Practical methods for collection of field data
  • Teamwork and independent thinking
  • A holistic and integrated worldview
  • High level of ability to communicate orally and in writing
  • Enhanced ability to synthesise different viewpoints and types of information.

Opportunities to apply your learning outside the classroom are available in this major, through internships, community-based learning, field courses and trips. These utilise UC field stations at Cass, Harihari and Westport. Such experiences deepen your skillset, awareness of others, working knowledge and employability.

Recent graduates have found careers all over Aotearoa New Zealand and the world, from Auckland to Papua New Guinea, Antarctica to California. Many have found careers in:

  • Public service
  • Tourism
  • Private companies dealing with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Global Positioning Systems (GPS)
  • The Police
  • Local authorities and town planning
  • Environmental science and conservation
  • Education
  • Data science
  • Foreign affairs and development agencies
  • Research and policy
  • People-focused positions, like the union movement, teaching and human resources.

In-demand jobs and sectors

The Resource Management Act has created a lively market for geographers in consultancy, and in regional and local government. Those who gain technical expertise in areas such as GIS and remote sensing are in demand from both the public and private sectors.

Geography graduates have so many diverse career options due to their focus on both the human and physical environment.

Note: Some of the jobs listed may require postgraduate study. See the ‘Further study’ section.

What job titles do Geography graduates have?

Geotechnical

  • Geotechnical engineer
  • Geographical information systems (GIS) analyst / technician / operator / consultant
  • Applications specialist
  • Remote sensing scientist / analyst
  • Geospatial analyst
  • Hydrologeologist, hydrological analyst

Environmental

  • Environmental scientist
  • Resource management planner, resource officer
  • Environmental and quality coordinator
  • Consents planner
  • Coastal / marine scientist
  • Climate consultant
  • Sustainable advisor
  • Air quality scientist

Planning and risk management

  • Urban/ transport planner
  • Development planner
  • Natural hazards researcher / analyst
  • Project manager
  • Policy advisor
  • Recovery preparedness coordinator
  • QA analyst

Human geography

  • NGO / aid agency practitioner
  • Diversity officer / human rights advocate
  • Community development officer
  • Geohealth analyst
  • Recruitment advisor
  • Public relations executive

Research

  • Qualitative research executive
  • Social researcher
  • Research assistant
  • Research and development manager
  • Laboratory supervisor

Data

  • Statistical analyst
  • Data collector / technician
  • Database administrator

Education

  • University lecturer
  • School teacher

Management

  • Director
  • Operations manager
  • Environmental manager

Can I use my skills to work for myself?

Entrepreneurship and innovation are an increasing part of the working landscape. Students and graduates can:

  • Develop an idea to form their own business
  • Get involved in a start-up
  • Offer their services as a consultant

Get started with Entrepreneurship here

As they progress, students and graduates often join professional bodies relevant to their area of interest. These organisations can provide regular communications and offer the chance to network.

Social media networks can keep you up-to-date with industry knowledge, networking opportunities, events and job vacancies.

Learn from our students' experiences

For more information

see the Geography subject page