You’ve probably heard of geographic information systems (GIS) before, but this discipline is actually one of many related fields that come together to make up the field of geospatial science.
What you may not realize is that geospatial science skills and technologies can be applied to an extremely wide array of fields. These skills can be used in more than 400 occupations, including: environmental science, engineering and fire protection.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) defines geospatial technologies as “the range of modern tools contributing to the geographic mapping and analysis of the Earth and human societies.” AAAS explains that those technologies include:
- GIS – A suite of software tools for mapping and analyzing data that is georeferenced.
- Remote sensing – Imagery and data collected from space or airborne camera and sensor platforms.
- Global positioning systems (GPS) – A network of US Department of Defense satellites that can give precise coordinate locations to civilian and military users.
- Internet mapping technologies – Software programs like Google Earth that are available to a wide range of audiences.
Two Degrees, Two Certificates
In 2019, FRCC redesigned and renamed its two-year Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in GIS to ensure the college is keeping pace with the needs of this changing field. FRCC also rolled out a brand-new Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) degree in geospatial science.
Now FRCC offers the following programs in geospatial science:
- A four-year BAS in Geospatial Science
- A two-year AAS in Geospatial Science
- Two progressive short-term certificates:
So if you seek to get a quick—but deep—dive into GIS by completing one (or both) certificates, FRCC has got you covered. Or if you aim to prepare yourself for a new career—or further opportunities in your current career—our AAS or BAS in geospatial science are great options.
Our programs teach the geospatial science skills and technologies that are used in many different occupations—including natural resources; city planning and utilities; business planning; firefighting, emergency dispatch and police work; web development; and many other areas.
Wait…a Bachelor’s Degree at a Community College?
Yes, it’s true. FRCC is one of a handful of community colleges in Colorado to offer Bachelor of Applied Science degrees. (In addition to the BAS in geospatial science, FRCC also offers a bachelor’s degree completion program for registered nurses.)
Students can start with the 12-credit Foundations of GIS certificate, then move progressively into the GIS certificate, AAS in Geospatial Science and BAS. All programs are “stacked”—with one level building on another—so as not to waste any time or credits. And while the bachelor’s degree is a continuation of the AAS, other students are welcome to take the courses in the BAS program.
What Kinds of Jobs Are Out There?
Because geospatial science is such a broad field—and it is used in so many different industries—there are all kinds of different jobs you could get with the BAS or AAS in geospatial science. Here are a few examples of areas that employ geospatial scientists:
- Water resources/quality
- City and municipal utilities
- Urban development
- Environmental conservation
- Civil engineering
- Natural resources/forestry
- Public health
- Mining/mineral exploration
- Military intelligence
Here are a few possible job titles you might see in this field:
- Geospatial architect
- Geospatial analyst
- Geospatial programmer
- GIS specialist
- Water GIS specialist
- Water resources engineer
- Planning technician
- Mobile mapping technician
- Professional land surveyor
- Imagery scientist
Faculty members at FRCC see a wide range of employers here in Colorado who need geospatial scientists, including local companies, federal agencies, and cities and counties. (A few examples: the City of Longmont, the City and County of Boulder, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the US Forest Service, CACI, Inc., the Center for Environmental Management of Military Lands, DigitalGlobe—part of Maxar Technologies, Frontier Precision, the Town of Nederland, West Communications and many others.)
What Are the Jobs Like?
Geospatial science jobs are also varied, but you can expect to collect and/or analyze data. Depending on your job, you might create models, maps, reports and projections—and share your analyses with professionals who use that knowledge to make decisions about resources and much more.
So, if you are an analytical thinker, enjoy maps and technology, have strong computer skills (or are willing to acquire them), are intrigued by (or already skilled at) computer programming, and like identifying and understand spatial relationships—a job in geospatial sciences might be a great fit for your abilities and interests.
If this program interests you, contact our Geospatial Sciences Program Lead Jennifer Muha. Learn more about the career options available to you—and how a degree or certificate from FRCC could help you achieve your goals—at www.frontrange.edu/gis.