Geography and the Environment

Careers in geography and environmental studies

As a Geography student, you will graduate with a broad skill set in both the Arts and Sciences. This positions you for a wide and exciting diversity of career opportunities.

Or you may choose to continue your education into more specialized fields, such as urban planning or education.

GIS is a skillset sought after by a large diversity of industries.

There's a variety of GIS job types, ranging from GIS technicians to the GIS programmers to professionals who uses GIS as a part of their duties (e.g. business location, crime analyst, forestry technician).

Jobs are found in both the private and public sectors.

The type of GIS job one might seek out depends a lot on how much experience and training they have in GIS, and the type of job one is looking for. But here's what's certain: Demand for graduates with at least some GIS is high. According to Statistics Canada, the number of job openings for people who gather, analyze, interpret and use geospatial information is expected to outnumber the number of job seekers in these fields by 2024.

Will I need additional training?

Sometimes, depending on the type of job you are seeking.

For a graduate wanting to get into programming or forestry, additional or complementary certification is usually expected. But many GIS jobs require a bachelor's degree, with GIS training within it.


Planning is a large and diverse field. Many planners choose a planning specialization: urban planning, regional planning, tourism planning, recreation and parks, rural planning, heritage and preservation, and environmental planning. However, planning consultants often have experience in multiple areas.

Planning technicians are also part of the industry. Jobs are more likely to be in the public sector, or with private sector firms who work on contract, with or alongside public sector agencies.

Will I need additional training?

Usually, and especially for professionals in specific types of planning.

Expect to pursue a two-year master's degree program if you are looking to go into this field, either right after your undergraduate, or after working as a planning technician or consultant for a few years.

Job location

Everywhere, with the number of planners in a given area being a reflection, in part, or population and size of urban centres. Growth in Northern B.C.

Certification

Yes. Separate certification systems exist for planners (CIP) and Planning Technicians (CACPT)


Many geography students continue on to prepare for careers in education, either through entering a teacher education program or by directly entering the workforce.

While many of these careers are within the K-12 education sector, others are not, and involve public outreach and education, placements with private companies that require teachers (e.g. cruise ships), and working with local and national parks in education program development.

Geography students may also seek work with private firms who develop educational materials, either in geography or in a related field (e.g. forestry).

Will I need additional training?

For K-12 teachers, yes, through a Teacher Education program or a Bachelor of Education (which is a subsequent, or second, degree only). But environmental educators or those working in industry are more likely to require only their bachelor's degree and some experience. And Adult Education certificate may be a useful credential to have for such professionals.

Job location

Everywhere, but growth is greatest in Northern BC


Environmental and development organizations hire geography students who are well-prepared for work on specific issues or causes. These often include conservation organizations, international aid organizations, or community development associations.

Specific skills, such as communications, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), team-building, cultural sensitivity, are needed for many of these careers.

Will I need additional training?

Not typically, but experience counts! Build up volunteer and paid experiences while still in school, and develop a diversity of skills, from leadership training to use of social media to experience applying GIS to specific non-profit needs.


This is a critically important field in the B.C. context, and as such, the types of jobs found in natural resources are variable and widespread.

They include specializations like agronomy, forestry, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS), to jobs built on more interdisciplinary training, such as resource education and environmental restoration.

Jobs are found in the private sector (working with mining, forestry, agriculture, etc.) and the public sector.

Will I need additional training?

It depends on specialization and course selection and experiences while in school. Many jobs require a bachelor's degree only, while some in forestry and environmental planning would require additional diploma level or master's level training.

Job location

Everywhere. One of the best areas to consider if interested in working outside the Lower Mainland.

Certification

For some specializations, yes--including agronomy and forestry.


Geography students are commonly employed by the public sector at all levels, from local government on up to international organizations such as the United Nations.

The knowledge and skills that geographers bring to the workforce are often most highly utilized in fields that fall within the mandate of government agencies such as:

  • Environmental and social program development and management
  • National, provinicial, and regional park management and planning
  • Data collection, management, and anlaysis, e.g. Statistics Canada
  • Sustainability coordinator
  • Environmental stewardship initiatives
  • Water quality, soil science, and environmental health
  • Public health initiatives
  • Real estate assessment
  • Public transportation management and planning
  • Climatology
  • Customs and immigration
  • Development specialist
  • Heritage mapping and interpretation

Will I need additional training?

Many entry-level jobs are available in government, but there's stiff competition for these. Additional training is often needed for promotion, and it is required for specialized positions such as climatologist or heritage specialist.

But experience also counts! This is especially true in sustainability fields, data handling, public education, and geographic information systems.

Some fields, such as real estate assessment, require specific coursework, but not full master's degree programs.

Job location

Everywhere


The private sector is the richest source of employment opportunities for geographers, in part because of the many different industries that geographers can enter. These include jobs utilizing both Arts and Sciences skillsets and knowledge such as:

  • Market research and analysis, for example, helping firms find the best place to locate
  • Logistics and transportation analysis
  • Supply chain management, for example working with a company to find the ideal sources for key inputs, based on geographic and other variables
  • Environmental consulting
  • Tourism and recreation firms
  • Architecture firms
  • GIS technicians and cartographers, working for outlets such as newspapers, developers, and retail firms
  • Geotechnicians, for example assessing slope stability for new development
  • Sustainability managers
  • Forecasters, especially in agriculture and finance
  • Development of educational and outreach materials for firms

Many of the jobs above exist in multiple sectors. For instance, planners are hired by both government agencies and by private developers. The key is to think broadly and to be flexible when considering career fields.

Many of the 'best' jobs are not ones that are conventional or well-known, but are nonetheless in high demand.

Will I need additional training?

Similar to government/public sector jobs. But in business, experience, networks, and professional engagement count, and can open the door quicker than additional credentials.

Job location

Everywhere, but in highest density in Southwest B.C.


Bachelor of Environmental Studies, coming fall 2019

Develop the skills and knowledge to pursue a variety of environmental careers in both the private and public sectors.

Request information

Melissa Koyanagi2

"My most valuable experience was certainly the AIG to BC's Interior that I had the pleasure of completing with my peers under the guidance of Gary Fehr and Olav Lian. This experience was in-depth, interesting and relevant to my previous studies in a wide range of subject areas, including postglacial and paraglacial processes, First Nations affairs in BC and BC's evolving economy. I sincerely enjoyed this learning experience and it was the perfect way to cap off my undergraduate studies at UFV."

Head to GATE's blog  to find out more about Melissa and what other graduates have to say about GATE.‌

  • – Melissa Koyanagi
  •    BA with double extended minors in Geography and Psychology

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