The field of geography by nature is diverse – it includes two major branches, physical and human geography. They are quite different but both are focused on spatial diversity and changes. In Canada, many universities offer degree programs; these can lead to careers in areas such as consulting, cartography and regional/city planning.
Why is Geography Becoming More Relevant Here in Canada?
If you’ve seen many pictures of Canada, you likely know the country has a very unique geography – from polar, to boreal rainforests, to coastal temperate rainforests, deserts, urbanized cities, and everything in between. Much of Canada’s most unique places also remain unstudied or understudies but are now in need of being researched and studied in order to prepare for climate change and growing populations here in Canada.
This is where geography comes in! Geography majors are either interested in physical geography or human geography – physical geographers will look at physical changes to the Earth here in Canada, with a new focus as mentioned on geographical change in relation to climate change, such as glacier melt. Meanwhile, human geographers will have a focus on growing populations and how that affects and changes cities and rural areas here in Canada. There is overlap between these forms of geography, and it’s likely in your major you’ll learn a bit of both!
Where Can I Study Geography in Canada?
Geography is an available major option at a number of colleges and universities in Canada. Below are 3 universities that run Geography major programs:
- The University of Victoria – Geography: At UVIC, you can study Geography as either your major in a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Arts. The Bachelor program you choose will determine whether you are focusing on physical geography or human geography.
- University of Lethbridge – Geography: The University of Lethbridge offers a number of different bachelor’s options with focuses on geography; in fact, students can earn a Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Arts and Science, Bachelor of Education and Bachelor of Management.
- The University of Winnipeg – Geography: The University of Winnipeg offers both a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science in Geography. Interestingly, there is an option to earn a bachelor’s degree program in 3 years in this particular major.
Want to Work at Google Maps? You Can as a Geography Major!
Geography is a diverse field, and as such diverse careers are available for graduates. Below are just a few of the career options available to those with degrees in geography:
- Cartographer: Cartographers focus on map-making; in geography, you’ll likely learn about geographic information systems, these are software you can use to develop digital maps and map web applications. Digital maps are extensively useful in a variety of areas from elections, to natural resources, and development planning. According to the Government of Canada, outlooks for this job are fair in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia and Ontario, good in Saskatchewan, and undetermined in the remaining provinces. This particular job is expected to experience a labour surplus from 2019-2028 at the national level, according to the Government of Canada. Lastly, the median expected salary reported for cartographers in Canada is $35.06 per hour according to the Government of Canada Job bank.
- City planner: City planners are focused on city planning; this includes zoning, by-laws, sustainability, and economic development. Planners generally work for local governments and focus on a specific sector such as economics, transportation or housing. City planning is a growing profession; the outlook for the provinces of Manitoba, British Columbia, and Alberta is fair, good for both Ontario and Saskatchewan, and undetermined in the remaining provinces as reported on by the Government of Canada. Over the next 10 years in BC, over 500 new jobs in urban planning are expected according to WorkBC. Meanwhile, the median hourly wage of city planners in Canada according to the Government Job Bank is $39.95 per hour.
- Environmental consultant: Environmental consultants advise both the public and private sectors in relation to environmental impacts. This may involve advisement on the development of natural resources or managing urban wastes, as just a couple of examples. For environmental consultants in Canada, the job prospects are quite astounding; EcoCanada has reported environmental consultants make up 17% of the environmental workforce in Canada. In fact, EcoCanada mentions that over 300 000 people are environmental consultants in Canada! Further, they earn on average about $64 000 a year in Canada according to Glassdoor.
Meet UVIC’s Alejandra – Masters of Geography Student from Mexico
Many international students have found success in studying geography in Canada. UVIC student Alejandra Zubiria Perez, from Mexico, is now studying grizzly bears here in BC; specifically, she is focusing on their conservation via the help of computing tools to design models. Her models will help inform current and future management policies around grizzly bear conservation right here in British Columbia.
“I had always wanted to study large carnivores and I was particularly struck by the passion of some researchers,” says Zubiria Perez. “I was lucky, and with the support of my supervisor (Chris Bone, UVic geography) and a few industry partners, it all came together for me,” she adds.
After her masters is completed at UVIC, she plans to pursue her PhD at the State University of New York, where she will continue her research in wildlife conservation. Here in BC, Alejandra found a passion for environmentalism, and it is now an immense part of her life!
Geography is a great option for students who have an interest in both natural and social sciences. The discipline offers content in both areas – physical and human geography. It is also widely available as a major option across the country and can lead to fruitful careers.