As a rather specialized niche in the sciences, the decision to become a geographer should be well-researched. Many colleges and universities offer degrees in geography, giving students a good place to start on their career paths. In addition, a student who wants to become a geographer may choose to continue on and receive his master's or doctorate degree in geography, making him even more marketable in the geography industry. Training is important as well, and internships often are helpful in giving students the opportunity to gain field experience.
To become a geographer, it is best to find a college or university that offers plenty of geography classes and preferably offers a major in the field. During their studies, geography majors often take mathematics and statistics classes; they may also take courses in geographic information science, remote sensing, and the environmental sciences.
Some schools allow students who want to become geographers to specialize in a specific field, even at the beginning of their studies. Although they will usually be required to take the basic geography classes, they may also take focused classes. These classes might place emphasis on topics such as human geography or world geography, for instance.
Although a college degree in geography is a good place to start for someone who wants to become a geographer, many people continue on to graduate school for more advanced studies. Many colleges and universities offer master's degree programs in geography; some even offer doctoral degrees. These advanced degrees are often beneficial for people who want to teach geography or focus on the research aspects of the field. In addition, some employers require the geographers they hire to have at least master's degrees.
Although classroom education is invaluable for someone who wants to become a geographer, hands-on training is also very important. Many schools offer internship opportunities for their geography students. These internships may be set up by the school in a local or national office. In some cases, the students will receive college credits that go toward the requirements of graduation as well.
There are some instances wherein a student will set up her own internship experience. She may find an opportunity with a private office or with a non-profit organization, for instance. In most cases, she will not earn a salary but will receive a great deal of hands-on experience; some internships do offer salaries or small stipends, however. In addition, if the internship opportunity proves valuable for both the student and the mentor, it may later turn into a full-time employment opportunity.