As uses and applications for Geographic Information Systems (GIS) expand, more schools are integrating GIS technology into their bachelor's degree in geology programs. In addition, many schools now offer vocational degrees, such as an Associate of Applied Science, in GIS technology. All programs require students to be high school graduates or possess a GED.
Associate's Degree in GIS Technology
Many community colleges, vocational and technical schools are offering two-year programs with a focus in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Related degrees also include Associate of Applied Science in Computer Office Technology and Associate of Applied Science in Computing and Information Technology with an emphasis in GIS Technology. Students explore spatial data analysis and learn to use software to import remote sensing data and map and analyze the data for application to a variety of professions. Courses might include:
- Remote sensing
- Principles of cartography
- GIS applications
- Basic computer-aided drafting
- Data acquisition and analysis
Bachelor's Degree in GIS Technology
A growing number of colleges and universities are offering geology degrees at the bachelor's level with an emphasis in GIS technology. In these four-year programs, students study the fundamental theories, concepts and methodologies used in the field of geography, as well as the emerging GIS tools and applications of this technology. Students learn to use GIS technology and apply it to geological and environmental applications, as well as potential applications in business and government. Coursework might cover:
- Geospatial data analysis
- Remote sensing
- GIS computer programming
- Urban and environmental applications of GIS
Popular Career Options
GIS technicians can find careers in public sectors. The associate's and bachelor's degree options prepare students for several popular careers, which include drafter and surveyor.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), employment for surveying and mapping technicians, including GIS technicians, is expected to decline at a rate of 8%, slower than average for all occupations, during the period from 2014-2024. This is due to the use of new technology that has made surveying more efficient. Surveying and mapping technicians earned a median annual wage of $42,010 as of May 2015.
GIS technicians can pursue voluntary certification through professional organizations, such as the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (www.asprs.org), which offers a Certified GIS/LIS Technologist designation, among others. Individuals with an associate's degree in this area might consider pursuing a bachelor's degree in an area such as cartography, engineering, geography, or surveying in order to advance to cartographer or surveyor positions. In most states, surveyors are required to hold a bachelor's degree and obtain a license.
GIS degrees are available at the associate's and bachelor's levels, teaching students about theories, concepts, and methods related to these technologies. There are several careers a graduate can pursue, as well as voluntary certification and licensure.