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Careers in Geography, Earth and Environmental Science

So, what kind of job can I get with a DEEGS degree?

A major concern to both future majors and their parents is the potential for employment after college. Despite a relatively tight job market, a degree in the Department of Environmental, Earth and Geospatial Sciences (DEEGS) at North Carolina Central University has a diversified set of job prospects, ranging from urban planners and environmental scientists to geophysics. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, careers offered through the DEEGS such as environmental scientists, environmental engineers, environmental technicians (biological or chemical). urban planners, geographers / mapping technicians (including GIS Specialists), atmospheric scientists, hydrologists, petroleum engineers and geoscientists have excellent outlooks and experience 'faster than average' average growth. Allied fields such as archaeologists, surveyors, sociologists, historians, business analysts and epidemiologists may require technical skills such as GIS offered through the DEEGS program. A recent CNN Money article cited one DEEGS major as having no unemployment! Another recent Wall Street Journal article highlights fields that have less than average unemployment. Career opportunities through DEEGS majors cited by the WSJ include geosciences (3.2% unemployment), ecology (5.2%), geography, (6.1%), forestry (3.1%), environmental science (5.0%), environmental engineering (2.2%), oceanography (3.3%) and physical science (2.5%). A degree from the DEEGS at NCCU will not only provide students with the skills for employment in the workforce after NCCU, but the opportunity to pursue graduate studies at the Master's or Ph.D. level. Recent DEEGS graduates are employed by the City of Durham, local environmental firms, as well national organizations such as the CIA. Other recent NCCU DEEGS grads are pursing graduate studies at NC State University, Oregon State University, the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill and the University of North Carolina - Greensboro.

Geography and GIS

Many contemporary issues in today’s every-changing world have geographic aspects. Who is better equipped to address these issues than geographers, who are broadly trained in relevant subject matter and technical skills? The potential for practicing geography in private enterprise and government has grown considerably in recent years with the increasing need for technical skills such as GIS, spatial analysis, remote sensing and statistical analysis. Examples of careers include:

  • Environmental Geography: Environmental geography is a branch of geography that examines the spatial aspects of interactions between humans and the natural world. Using a critically important set of analytical and problem-solving tools for assessing the impact of human presence on the environment by measuring the result of human activity on natural landforms and cycles, environmental geographers unite their geographic expertise with backgrounds in disciplines such as biogeography, geology, geomorphology, hydrology, and meteorology, as well as in human-focused fields, such as environmental/hazards perception, sustainable development, environmental conservation and management, and environmental assessment. Environmental geographers take positions as park rangers, environmental investigators, disaster managers, conservation specialists, and environmental policy specialists. Though not complete, these job titles aptly characterize the human-environment interaction that forms the core of environmental geography and one of the fundamental themes of geography.
  • Land Planning: Land use planning involves the scientific, aesthetic, and orderly disposition of land, resources, facilities, and services with a view to securing the physical, economic and social efficiency, and health and well-being of urban and rural communities. Land use planners are responsible for prescribing short-term and long-range developmental paths that a geographic entity, such as a neighborhood, community, or county will follow. Their skills are an important part of social policy, ensuring that land is used efficiently for the benefit of the wider economy and population as well as to protect the environment. Humans depend upon transportation – the movement of materials, ideas, products, and people – in countless ways. Highways, railroads, airports, seaports, and pipelines are essential links that tie people and places together in an increasingly interdependent world. Consequently, planners analyze questions related to population growth patterns, traffic patterns and congestion, pollution, recreation, water and waste materials, available resources, social services, land use, and a myriad of economic issues in order to advance a planning agenda. While urban and regional planning is often considered a part of architectural and urban management studies, planning is uniquely geographic in its focus on human/environment interaction and spatial organization.
  • Geospatial Technologies: Geospatial technologies, which include Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Global Positioning Systems (GPS), and Remote Sensing are powerful tools used to store, analyze, visualize, and present spatial information. Together with appropriate cartographic techniques and principles, geographers are using geospatial technologies to better understand the interaction of various factors across space, including population distribution, traffic movement, land use and availability, real estate prices, environmental hazards, soil types, and vegetative cover. Anything that can be tied to a geographic location (geo-referenced) can be analyzed spatially, which means that geospatial tools can (and often should) be used in every aspect of the practice of geography.
  • Business Geography: Geospatial technology is one of the most dynamic and rapidly expanding workforce categories identified by the United States Department of Labor. Consequently, career and job opportunities for those with an interest in business geography are widespread and challenging. Business geography is based upon their diverse knowledge and skills related to location analysis. As a result, business geographers play a key role in a vast array of business ventures, such as helping to make decisions about where to build the next Walgreens drug store or determining the most time-efficient route for a UPS delivery driver. Business geographers may also combine their geographic knowledge with the application of geospatial tools to provide a broad scale analysis of factors important an industry, such as using GIS to provide to coffee farmers in Costa Rica with a geospatial analysis of soil erosion and water quality, which could enhance the environmental sustainability of their farms, as well as the yield and quality of their coffee. Business geographers rely on reasoning and evaluation abilities, as well as on geospatial technological skills in computer mapping and analysis software to make recommendations about changes to the world around them.
  • Health Geography: Health geography is the application of geographical information, perspectives, and methods to the study of health, disease, and health care. The health of human populations reflects the complex interplay between population characteristics and the environment. Genetic makeup can predispose certain populations to chronic or acute conditions. Cultural factors, such as stress, economic status, and access to health care, can play a significant part in disease onset. Geographers study where and how these conditions can be mapped and remediated.

Environmental Science and Environmental Health

Examples of Careers as Environmental Science Majors include:
Air Pollution Analyst, Forester, Oceanographer, Air Quality Inspector, Geochemist, Occupational Safety Specialist, Animal Conservationist, Geochronologist, Organic Farmer, Geographic Information Specialist, Paleontologist, Aquatic Environmental Scientist, Geologist, Park Ranger, Aquatic Toxicologist, Geophysicist, Pollution Prevention Specialist, Cartographer, Radioactive Waste Engineer, City Planner, Recycling Coordinator, Conservation Systems Analyst, Hazardous Waste Specialist, Seismologist, Horticulturist, Soil Scientist, Earthquake Safety Specialist, Hydrogeologist, Ecologist, Hydrologist, Urban and Regional Planner, Industrial Hygienist, Wastewater Engineer, Energy Efficiency Consultant, Laboratory Analysis Specialist, Water Conservationist, Environmental Chemist, Landfill Engineer, Water Quality Controller, Environmental Educator, Watershed Planner, Environmental Journalist, Mineralogist, Wetlands Ecologist, Environmental Lawyer, Nature Preserve Manager, Wildlife Rescuer, Environmental Lobbyist, Nature Photojournalist among others. With a more advance degrees such as Master’s of Ph.D., the career options can be further specialized.

Examples of Careers as Environmental Health Majors include:
Environmental Health Specialist, Toxicologist, Industrial Hygiene Specialist, Occupational Health Specialist, Environmental Consultant, Environmental Scientist, Environmental Auditor, Hazardous Waste Manager, Public Health Specialist, Environmental Enforcement Officer, Environmental Protection Specialist, Health and Safety Officer, Environmental Education Specialist, Environmental Risk Assessor, Ecological Risk Assessor, Bioremediation Specialist, Water Treatment Manager, Wastewater Treatment Manager, Environmental Equipment Sales, Science Teacher, Chemistry Teacher, Biology Teacher, and Pharmaceutical Sales among others. With a more advance degree, the career options can be expanded into various pathways including biomedical sciences and engineering.

Job Resources in DEEGS

Sources: University of Texas, University of Colorado

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