The field of geomatics integrates land surveying and cartography with contemporary technology, such as remote sensing, global positioning systems (GPS), and geographic information systems (GIS). Since study of geomatics relies heavily on computer technology, proficiency with industry software is recommended for all applicants.
Bachelor's degree programs offer highly-specialized training in areas such as remote sensing, environmental studies, and GIS applications. Graduate students choose courses in their specialty, and some programs require them to serve as teaching assistants. Doctoral degree programs are completed in approximately 3-4 years, during which time candidates attend seminars and conduct independent dissertation research.
Bachelor's Degree in Geomatics
In order to apply to a bachelor's degree programs, students need to have a high school diploma and have competed math, physics and English courses. Although associate's degrees in geomatic engineering are available, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that surveyors need a bachelor's degree from a school approved by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology in order to become licensed (www.bls.gov).
Geomatics students can choose to concentrate their studies in engineering, forestry, computer science, environmental science, or surveying. Courses cover:
- Spatial data
- Civil geomatics
Master's Degree in Geomatics
Students wishing to acquire more in-depth knowledge of the theories and practices of geomatics decide to enter a master's degree program. Individuals possessing these advanced skills find employment opportunities surveying, mapping, researching, and managing data in the environmental, natural, or social sciences. Master's degree programs take approximately two years to complete and are offered both on campus and online. In addition to a bachelor's degree, certain institutions require applicants to have completed prior coursework in calculus and statistics.
Though curricula vary depending on program focus, graduate-level courses include intensive training in the following areas:
- Remote sensing
- Water systems engineering
- Weather modeling
- Property boundary mapping
- Spatial data analysis
Doctoral Degree in Geomatics
In addition to a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Geomatics, some colleges and universities offer Ph.D. degrees in environmental dynamics or civil engineering with an option to specialize in geomatics. Teaching fellowships and research assistantships pay stipends in order to defray tuition costs. Applicants with bachelor's degrees and strong academic records are accepted into Ph.D. degree programs. In addition to completing a dissertation and comprehensive exams, candidates are required to take doctoral-level courses. Coursework includes:
- Environmental dynamics
- Quaternary studies
- Earth systems
- Global theories
- Land tenure administration
Individuals with bachelor's degrees in geomatics have diverse employment opportunities in the U.S. and abroad. Careers may include:
- Geospatial analyst
- GIS technician
- Geodesy research associate
- Survey operations coordinator
A doctoral degree program can prepare graduates for diverse careers in government, academia and in the public, corporate and nonprofit sectors. Advanced positions may include:
- University professor
- Private consultant
- Project manager
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected job decline of 8% for surveying and mapping technicians from 2014-2024. As of May 2015, the BLS reported these technicians earned a median annual salary of $42,010.
According to the BLS, job growth for photogrammetrists and cartographers was expected to increase by 29%, much faster than average, between 2014 and 2024. The BLS also states that the rising demand for geographic data and accurate digital maps for businesses and consumers can lead to opportunities for professionals who are proficient in GIS and other geospatial technologies. The BLS reported a median annual salary of $61,880 as of May 2015. In addition to employment in the private sector, jobs may be available in federal agencies, such as the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Forest Service.
The BLS projected job growth of 13% for postsecondary teachers from 2014-2024. As of May 2015, postsecondary geography teachers earned a median annual salary of $75,400, the BLS reported.
Graduates of bachelor's degree programs may further their studies in a master's or doctoral degree program. Various organizations, such as the National Society of Professional Surveyors and the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, have voluntary certification programs for survey, photogrammetry, remote sensing and GIS specialists. Survey technicians may achieve certification at multiple levels, each of which requires more work experience and satisfactory scores on written exams.
According to the BLS, surveyors are required to be licensed in the U.S. and its territories, and they can begin the process after earning a bachelor's degree. Licensure requirements vary by state, although usually applicants need to achieve passing scores on state board exams. Additionally, most states require individuals to pass written exams offered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). After achieving a satisfactory score on the first NCEES exam, individuals may need to perform supervised work for an additional four years before they're eligible to take the second exam.
Geomatics is an interdisciplinary field that incorporates wide-ranging environmental, technological and scientific studies. Students can choose a bachelor's, master's or doctoral program in the field based on their educational background and employment goals.