Geographers have had an established role in emergency management, as they work to prevent and manage disasters by ensuring sustainable regional development. This interdisciplinary field may include work in disaster response, environmental management, city and county planning, and community development.
Geographers are the professionals called upon to study the multifaceted relationships between human activity and natural systems. In particular, geographers study either human geography or physical geography. Human geography is a discipline that links together the social sciences and the natural sciences, with geographers often studying how people interact with the environment.
Geographers in Emergency Management
Geographers in emergency management focus on hazard as a field of study. Geographers in emergency management often study natural hazards and a full range of geological and atmospheric agents, including:
- Global warming
- Coastal flooding
Geographers in emergency management also often study technological hazards, as well, such as nuclear accidents and the location of hazardous waste facilities.
Their work includes the use of geographic technologies as to better understand our complex world and plan for both natural and manmade disasters. These may include: Remote Sensing, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and online mapping applications such as Google Earth.
During times of crisis, geographers obtain and analyze information from any number of sources and technologies as to be able to make the most effective decisions.
Geographers in Emergency Management: Degree Options and Programs of Study
A four-year program of study in geography is an acceptable route to this profession, and many students focus their degree in geography on an area of specialization, including emergency management. Further, geographers may choose to minor in emergency management or receive a graduate certificate or separate degree in this field as to receive the necessary training in this field.
Geography majors pursuing a career in emergency management must take specific coursework in hazards, climatology, GIS, cartography, urban geography, and geomorphology.
Other appropriate coursework for geographers in emergency management includes: meteorology; sociology; geology; and political science.
Geographers may find professional opportunities in a number of sectors, including state and local government offices, international organizations, nonprofit organizations, and federal agencies. Further, many geographers find work in private business, and still others work as consultants.
Jobs and Salary Statistics for Geographers
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual salary for geographers in May 2010 was $72,800, with the top 10 percent in this field earning $102,440. Geographers in the federal executive branch earned a median salary of $75,280 during this time, and geographers in the professional, technical, and scientific fields earned a median salary of $69,700.
Employment for geographer jobs is expected to increase 35 percent between 2010 and 2010.
Resources for Geographers in Emergency Management
- Association of American Geographers
- International Association of Emergency Managers
- Federal Emergency Management Agency