The major in geography is broken into three tracks that are based on the strength of the department's teaching faculty and that orient students to career options in geography. Students with good academic records and who combine substantive understanding of human and physical geography with a basic familiarity with the geographic techniques will find many employment and career activities with government and private industry. The requirement for an increased presence of geography in the middle school curriculum should also provide opportunities in the field of secondary education.
Geography students combine a traditional liberal arts education emphasizing the development of reasoning, analysis, and the presentation of ideas and arguments with a solid introduction to geographic principles and techniques. Students must plan ahead, however, if they are to benefit from the career opportunities that geography offers. The University Career Center is an important stop for students who are looking for the information to realize their career goals.
One increasingly important means of enhancing marketability in finding that first position is evidence of practical experience, and the Geography Department offers GEOG 595, Internship in Geography, open to undergraduate as well as graduate students. Students work for a government agency, non-governmental organization, or private industry and apply their geographic skills to specific tasks assigned to them. The course involves 100 hours of work per semester and awards three credit hours; it gives students an opportunity to learn more about a particular career, to apply their geographic skills and learn new skills, to build up their resume through experience and references, and to begin the critically important process of networking or making contacts in their field of interest.
Career opportunities include some specialized areas like cartographer, remote sensing specialist, geographic information systems specialist, which can be found in state and federal agencies, research bureaus, and private industry. Depending on the track a student follows, other career opportunities include area specialist, international business, travel agent, environmental manager, park ranger, hazardous waste planner, urban and community planner, transportation planner, traffic manager, market and location researcher, real estate agent, coastal zone manager, hydrologist, and climatologist.