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How to Become a Photogrammetrist: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a photogrammetrist. Research the education requirements, licensure information and experience required for starting a career in the field of mapmaking. View article »

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  • 0:04 Photogrammetrist Career Info
  • 1:18 Get a Bachelor's Degree
  • 1:54 Get Experience
  • 2:28 Get Licensed
  • 3:42 Find a Job
  • 4:44 Continue Education

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Video Transcript

Photogrammetrist Career Info

Photogrammetrists examine pictures taken with remote viewing equipment, such as satellites or mounted cameras, in order to create specialized maps of different geographical regions. Professionals carefully analyze each picture to determine the measurements and locations of each identifiable object, and then they input that data into computerized mapmaking programs.

A photogrammetry job typically requires a combination of office tasks and field work, which can go beyond the usual 9-5 workday. In some cases, photogrammetrists may ride along on the flights where aerial photos are taken to calibrate instruments for precise photographic results.

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Field Geomatics, cartography or geography
Licensure Several states have licensure requirements for workers who use remote viewing equipment to conduct land surveys
Key Skills Attention to detail; problem-solving skills; knowledge of remote sensing and GIS software programs, digital photo software programs, mapmaking computer programs and more; proficiency with software used for charting aerial surveys; knowledge of high-tech photography and multiple-spectrum cameras; ability to use land surveying measurement equipment; familiar with remote sensing equipment (LIDAR, aerial cameras and satellites); ability to interpret different types of maps and knowledge of compass measuring techniques
Additional Requirements Comfortable working outside, able to sit for extended periods looking at computer screens and a willingness to travel as needed
Employer Common employers in this profession include architectural and engineering companies; local, state and federal government agencies; and management, technical and scientific consulting companies
Salary (2015) $61,880/year (Median annual wage for photogrammetrists)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Get Bachelor's Degree

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also showed that several degree programs may help prepare individuals for careers in photogrammetry. Three of the most common programs include geography, cartography and geomatics. Of these options, geomatics may prove the best choice, since this field combines mapping technology training (cartography) with the science of land surveying (geography). Coursework in geomatics degree programs may include surveying, GIS training, mapmaking, land planning, mapping legal concerns, remote sensing and photogrammetry.

Get Experience

Photogrammetrist licensing laws in some states require professionals to work under supervision in the field for several years before being eligible to take licensing exams. For instance, both Virginia and Florida require aspiring photogrammetrists to work for four years under the supervision of licensed professionals. During that time, workers may be referred to as interns or photogrammetrists-in-training. Several states consider photogrammetrists as land surveyors, and land surveyors may also be required to complete supervised training periods, depending on state laws.

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Get Licensed

Licensure or certification procedures for photogrammetrists vary by state. Some states may require photogrammetrists to work as interns for several years before taking licensing exams. Other states may have no previous work experience requirements, provided that individuals can pass state licensing exams. And in some states, licensure or certification requires applicants to complete a set amount of college courses.

Several states do not have specific licensing procedures for photogrammetrists, and these states may ask photogrammetrists to fulfill land surveyor licensing requirements instead. Eligibility requirements for licensure or certification often include undergraduate degrees and/or industry experience. Applicants may also have to pass exams that include questions about state or federal laws related to land surveying, remote viewing or photogrammetry.

Photogrammetrists are generally only licensed to work within their state of employment. Some states have reciprocity laws with other states regarding licensed workers, which means they will recognize out-of-state licenses as valid. Not all states have reciprocity laws, so photogrammetrists may have to obtain multiple state licenses, depending on where they work.

Find a Job

Photogrammetrists can find employment with federal government organizations, such as the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). There are also positions in the military, local government agencies and with private businesses. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted that between 2014 and 2024, open positions for photogrammetrists and cartographers would increase by 29%.

Photogrammetrists who complete trade certification programs prove their knowledge or levels of skill with photogrammetry technology. One of the most well known organizations to offer certification in this field includes the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS). Eligibility requirements for ASPRS's certified photogrammetrist program include four references from reputable professionals in the field and at least six years' experience in remote sensing or photogrammetry. Applicants must pass an exam to be certified.

Continue Education

Professionals who work in states that require licensing must keep their licenses active by following renewal procedures. In most states, license renewal requires professionals to submit paperwork, fees and, in some cases, proof of professional development. Generally, proof of professional development means taking continued education courses related to the profession, which in this case would be courses in photogrammetry, land surveying or remote sensing technologies. Individuals who obtain certification through trade organizations are also usually required to renew their certification every few years.

Those who wish to advance in this field may also benefit from obtaining a master's degree. Having an advanced degree may allow photogrammetrists to take on more challenging leadership roles, such as those in urban and regional planning, rural planning or survey research.

To recap, photogrammetrists generally need to have a degree in geomatics, cartography or geography before they can gain experience, obtain licensure or certification in their state and advance in the field.

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