Career Navigator: Explore careers in urban planning, geography and GIS

When you think of the words “geography” or “urban planning,” what images come to mind?  For geography, maybe you think of a globe and all of the continents and landforms you see. How about urban planning? Thinking of a huge metropolis like New York City, filled with streets packed with cars, buses and people?

What if we told you it is both of those things, but also so much more!

History. Nature. Technology. Science. People. Sustainability. The world.

Our school teamed up with several industry leaders to share how they use geography, GIS and urban planning in their careers for a series of videos we call Career Navigator. From helping communities be sustainable to learning new and cutting-edge technologies, these videos showcase the wide variety of career options available to students who enroll in geography, GIS and urban planning programs.

Explore some of the interests listed in the menu below. Whether you are interested in “Saving our planet” or “Building communities,” as you explore you will learn how the disciplines of geography, GIS and urban planning can help you pursue those interests through different career paths.

Want to learn even more? Head down the page for more resources!


Careers in Geography: Broadcast Meteorology

You see them every day on the local and national news for a few minutes as they lay out the daily and weekly forecast. But there is much more going on behind the scenes than those few minutes show. Jordan Evans, a broadcast meteorologist for KXXV in Central Texas, shares a behind the scenes look at what his day-to-day is like!

Careers in GIS: Environmental, US Forest Service

How can you combine technology with your love of the outdoors? Mark Christiano, GIS Coordinator, and Anthony Davila, GIS Specialist, with the US Forest Service's Kaibab National Forest share how they use different GIS technologies to assist in the management of a national forest.

Careers in Planning: Town Planning

Where should a new school be built? What areas should be zoned commercial and which ones residential? What can be done to make a town economically thriving but environmentally sustainable? These are just a few of the questions that Dan Barusch, Director of Planning and Zoning for the Town and Village of Lake George in New York, tackles in his day-to-work.

Careers in Geography: Water Conservation, Sustainability

Cities in the desert need to monitor their water use – and they’d also like to plan ways to support their citizens in living sustainably, through landscaping choices, energy efficiency, composting, and so much more. Victoria Venet Caster, Water Conservation and Sustainability Manager with the City of Peoria in Arizona, sees her geography degree as the perfect foundation for this work.


Careers in GIS: Emergency Management

Fires, floods and other emergency situations can happen anywhere. With the location of the event being critical in developing a response, evacuation plan, and future assistance, GIS can be used to show this information in an easy to understand and visual way. Eric Shreve, GIS Application Developer with Arizona Department of Emergency & Military Affairs (DEMA), explains his job and why he finds it so rewarding.

Careers in Planning: Environmental Planning

If you’ve been to a national park you've likely interacted with a park ranger or other member of the National Parks Service. But did you know that they also work outside of the park boundaries?  Brandon Stocksdale, a Community Planner with the National Park Service, shares his experiences within the agency's Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance program, where he works with communities to help develop conservation and recreation projects.

Careers in Geography: Severe Weather Meteorology, Research

Tornadoes can be catastrophic, leaving a path of death and destruction. Part of the issue is they can be unpredictable in their behavior. That's why researchers like Melissa Wagner, with the Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies, is using her geography knowledge to help create a better understanding of tornadoes.

Careers in GIS: Archaeology

Using the technology of today to learn more about what happened throughout history. Ryan Arp, an archaeologist with Environmental Planning Group, uses GIS technologies to assist with his work out in the field.

Careers in Planning: Community and Transportation Planning, Private Planning Firm

Bridges, highways, airports and more. There's a lot that goes into creating the cities we know and love. Private planning firms, such as Michael Baker International, often work alongside city, county and state agencies to the create plans that create our transportation systems and communities. Matt Gomez and Tristan Black, who are both ASU alumni and planners with Michael Baker International, share more about their work.

Careers in Geography: Meteorologists, National Weather Service

Has your cell phone alerted you to severe weather, like flash floods, dust storms or tornadoes? A group of meteorologists are responsible for identifying these weather events before they occur and work to notify those in the surrounding areas to keep people safe. This specific group are from the National Weather Service in Phoenix, and they share their experiences working as meteorologists.

Careers in GIS: Cartographer

Governments are responsible for specific areas. To better understand these areas, a variety of maps can be used. These maps can showcase boundaries, location of government owned lands, location of certain services, and more. Jenna Leveille, Deputy State Cartographer for Arizona State Land Department, helps to create these maps for a variety of needs for the state of Arizona.


Careers in Planning: Sustainable Housing

After earning a degree and working as an urban planner, Prasoon Kumar co-founded the organization Billion Bricks to help combat homelessness around the world.

Careers in GIS: Transportation Planning

When it comes to transportation planning, most would think this is a job just meant for planners. But, this complex work also requires the skills and expertise of those trained in GIS. Patrick Whiteford is a Geospatial Analysis Section Manager for the Arizona Department of Transportation.

Careers in Planning: Transportation Planning, Private Planning Firm

Streets and highways. Cars and buses. How we move through our cities and towns requires a transportation planner. Steven Sifferman, a transportation planner, explains his job and some of the projects he gets to work on across the world at WSP, a private planning firm.

Careers in GIS: Education, Technology

Love being at the forefront of new technology? Love sharing your knowledge with others? Mark Stewart, a Higher Education Account Manager, gets to combine those two things in his job ESRI, a technology company that creates geographic information systems software used by GIS professionals around the world.

More about Geography

Geographers Making a Difference  Geography is a broad and diverse field, but one thing geographers have in common is using a geographic perspective to have an impact on the world. Video, 4 min 24 sec

Careers in Geography  Get the numbers on employment in different branches of geography -- then scroll down to choose from eight short lively videos that tell more stories of geographers and their career journeys.

The Arizona Geographic Alliance  The purpose of the Arizona Geographic Alliance is to strengthen geography education in Arizona. The organization currently has over 3,200 members and more than 160 teachers in its Teacher Consultant leadership cadre.  Visit their web site for lesson plans that integrate Arizona's geography standards with literacy, math, science and history, and to learn about events.

More about GIS

What is GIS?  This quick video defines GIS simply and clearly. 1 min 3 sec 

The Geospatial Revolution How is geospatial information changing nearly everything?  This Penn State video explains.  13 min 44 sec

 Careers in GIS: Esri, the leading GIS software company, offers 10 short video stories of GIS professionals who study climate, help prevent disease, develop new apps and more.

Teaching Young People about GIS  Here's a collection of videos, guides and activiities to support teaching and using GIS in K-12 education, from the American Association of Geographers

More about Urban and Environmental Planning

Urban Planning 101  Urban Planning has always been about designing a setting where civilization can thrive. This video created by the City of Phoenix explains the goals of planning today.  2 min 34 sec

What does Urban Planning mean to me?  Students in ASU's Student Planning Association discuss how they got into urban planning and planning as a profession, and some important topics in planning.  1 hr 11 min 5 sec

Teaching Young People About Planning Are you a teacher or youth leader? This site offers a toolkit, curriculum and neighborhood scavenger hunt - 3 ways to learn about planning.