The New Geospatial Jobs and How to be Ready for Them
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The New Geospatial Jobs and How to be Ready for Them

The broadcast is now starting. All attendees are in
listen-only mode. Hello and welcome to another
Directions Media webinar, sponsored by us at Directions
Media, and by the Pennsylvania State University. Today’s webinar is entitled “The
New Geospatial Jobs and How to be Ready for Them.” Hi, my name is Joe Francica. I am the editor in chief
and vice publisher of Directions Media. And I’ll also be your host
for today’s webinar. And I’ll be joined by Wes Stroh,
a lecturer at Penn State, who will moderate
our panel of speakers. The topics we will cover in
today’s webinar include the new job designations by the US
Department of Labor, the recently approved geospatial
technology competency model, which are modeled to explore
the essential elements required by today’s geospatial
professionals, and the jobs workforce, the demand for
professionals, the job positions, and validation
of our profession. I just remind everybody that
in the future, our future webinars will include one on
October 7, that will be on mobilizing geospatial data, and
one sponsored by Sybase. And then another on October 13
by NAFTEC and EDCI on topics related to emergency management
and response. Coming up on your screen next
will be a map that will show just how wide our distribution
of attendees are today. We have a rather global audience
of people that are from about 10 different
countries, in addition to the US. Again we have about 820 people,
that’s a fantastic number, who are registered
today. And, again, I want to say
thanks for joining us. And we’ll honor your time by
sticking to our one hour time limit, and trying to
finish within that one hour time frame. But before I go into our topic
for today, I want to discuss some of the housekeeping issues
that will allow you to participate more fully. In your control panel, there is
a section called Questions. You can click on the plus sign,
and type in a question. You may do this at any time
during the webinar. And we’ll respond to as many of
them in the Ask the Experts panel session at the
end of the webinar. Whatever questions we do not
feel during the allotted time, we will be sure to answer after
the webinar via email. So please don’t hesitate to
submit your questions. As I mentioned, again, we have
over 800 people registered, and we thank you for
joining us today. But we may not have time to
answer all the questions that we get in real time. If you have any technical
difficulties, you can use the same interface that you use to
ask questions to send us a message, and we’ll try to
resolve any problems that you may have. During today’s presentation, we
will be taking a few polls. The answers you give will
be shared with everyone. And we appreciate your response
as it is important to understand your interests
and needs. And we’ll be getting to that
first poll very shortly. Finally, a copy of today’s
webcast will be recorded, and anybody who is registered will
soon receive an email with instructions on how to
view this on demand. But, next, what I want to do
is to offer a few takeaways from today’s webinar. Today, with the term turmoil
in the economy, there is a bright spot for us in the
geospatial profession. That is, there will continue
to be, and there is now, demand in the workforce for
those with specific skills in utilizing geospatial data, and
analyzing location-based phenomenon. In fact, there is quite a
diversity of needs by employers in both government
and private industry. Specifically, our panel will
identify the skills needed to pursue a career in geospatial
technology. If you’re an employer, you will
be very interested to know about what we, in the
industry, consider critical to be a qualified geospatial
technologist. And how you can use some
recently developed guidelines to see if candidates are,
indeed, qualified. Lastly, you will hear these
guidelines will be used to help define the profession. This was lacking before. And what the Department of Labor
has done is essentially validated our technology sector
is very important to meet the demands of a growing
workforce, and sustain the needs of our country. But now, what I’d like to do
is introduce Wes Stroh. Wes is a lecturer in the John
A. Dutton e-Education Institute in the Department of
Geography at Penn State, and a member the faculty in Penn
State’s online geospatial education program. Wes is also an instructor for a
course entitled “The Nature of Geographic Data,” which is
the introductory course in Penn State’s online certificate and Master’s in GIS. And he’s a lead author and
instructor of a new course under development entitled
“Location Intelligence for Business.” Wes, I’ll now turn the
webinar over to you. Thank you, Joe. Well, I’d like to welcome
everyone to the first in a series of six webinars brought
you by Directions Media and Penn State. And we’re calling the series
“Inside Geospatial Education Research.” We are here today
to talk about jobs. And when you registered for the
session today, you told us a little bit about where you’re
at in your career. But we’d like to share that with
everybody else who’s in the audience today. And so, in just a minute,
we’re going to take poll number one, and ask everyone
again to indicate where are you in your career. Are you new to geospatial? Are you checking it out
as a potential career? Are you currently in a
Bachelor’s program? Maybe you’re in an advanced
degree program. Maybe you’re mid-career, and
wondering if you’re optimally positioned. Or something else. So, Joe, let’s go ahead and
start that first poll. We’ll give you a couple
minutes to answer. And then we’ll bring those
selections back to you. Looks like we’re getting some
numbers, and as I anticipated, we’ve got a lot of
mid-career folks. That’s what showed up on
the pre-registration information, as well. Maybe just a couple
more minutes. A couple more seconds,
excuse me. Yeah, it looks like just about
everybody has voted, Wes. So I’m going to give everybody
maybe just a second, or two, more. And I’m going to
close the poll. And let’s share the results
of that poll. Yep, thanks, Joe. Not exactly surprised when
you folks registered. Most of us told you, you were
mid-career, and wondering if you’re optimally positioned. Well, I think that today’s
content is definitely appropriate for you, as we talk
a little bit about the geospatial industry and GIS
becoming a little more of its own as a profession. And for those of you that are
newer, or currently in a program, I think you’re going
to find this helpful in a forward-thinking way as you
plan your own careers. So, Joe, why don’t we go ahead
and turn to our agenda now. And I’ll run through
that briefly. We’re going to start today’s
call with a colleague of mine, actually my boss, the director
of the John A. Dutton e-Education Institute
here at Penn State. David DiBiase, who’s going to
bring to us information about recent developments in the US
Department of Labor, the Employment and Training
Administration unit. And they’ve actually put
together a geospatial competency model that helps us
define our profession in terms of job descriptions, and also
what competencies are required for this job description. Then we’re going to bring Rick
Serby into the conversation. He’s present owner
of Geosearch. And he is going to help
us a little bit with the ground troop. What’s really going on
out there in the field in terms of hiring. Then we’re going to follow up
with the Q&A panel, asking the experts at the end. So, first, as I indicated, David
DiBiase, director of the Dutton e-Education. He’s also the program manager
for the online GIS and geospatial program here at Penn
State, and is currently serving as the president
of the GIS Certification Institute. Again, David’s going to bring
to us information about the new geospatial competency
model. I’ll turn it over to you
at this point, David. Thanks. Thank you, Wes. And I want to thank Joe and or
our partners at Directions Media for co-hosting with Penn
State University this series of webinars on inside
geospatial education and training. I especially want to thank our
participants, very nearly 400 online right now. I want to thank you for carving
out some time in your day, and I assure we are going
to do our best to make it worth your while. I’m confident that whether
you’re new to one of the geospatial professions, or
if you’re a mid-career professional, like so many of
you are, thinking about your career trajectories, that the
recent developments at the Department of Labor and states
are going to be important and interesting to you. First of those two developments
is that not very long ago at all, just on July
8 of this year, 2010, the Department of Labor culminated,
really, a 10 year long quest to reach a consensus
definition of the field it calls geospatial
technology. And the culmination of that
quest was, in part, it’s publication of a geospatial
technology competency model. What’s showing on the screen
right now is a screen capture of a website that the Department
of Labor hosts called it’s competency
model clearinghouse. And we’re going to visit that
competency model clearinghouse very shortly, and take a quick
look at the geospatial technology competency
model live. The second development that’s
going to be important to you, for sure, is the fact that
within the past year, just in December, 2009, the Department
of Labor established six new geospatial occupations. Folks in the field have been
complaining for a long time that the Department of Labor,
which is a busy group of people, have not gotten around
to establishing standard occupation codes that
realistically reflect the geospatial field. Well, now it’s harder to
make that argument. What you see now is the list
of 10 occupations, directly related to geospatial that are
now recognized by the US Department of Labor. Those in asterisks are the
ones that were newly established, just in
December of 2009. And, again, we’ll go to the
Department of Labor website in just a few minutes, and take a
look at where you can find descriptions of these new
standard occupations. And not only are their
descriptions, but the Department of Labor’s workforce
analysts have actually estimated current
employment, that is, employment as of 2008, and as
well projected growth in employment over the next
10 years, 2008 to 2018. And that has to be of great
importance to all of us in the field. And this just gives us an
opportunity to move to our second poll. You see I have question
marks in there. Before revealing those
estimates, I think it would be fun if we, as a group, were to
express our opinion about our guess, our estimate, of the size
and number of workers of the entire US geospatial
workforce. So on the low end, you
might estimate that it’s 100,000 workers. On the high end, a million
workers, or something in between. Let’s take a moment now, and
here’s the poll showing up, the quick poll. Why don’t you select one of the
following that’s your best guess about the size of the
geospatial workforce. And after taking a moment or
two, Joe will show us some results, and then we’ll go on
and see what the Department of Labor says. And we’ve got about 75%
of those folks who have voted right now. Again, we’ll just leave it open
for a few more seconds to get hopefully close to 100% of
everybody that’s participating in today’s webinar. Again, this type of poll really
gives us a good sense of where you think the
profession is. So I’m going to go ahead now
and close this poll. And we’ll share the results
with everyone who’s has participated. And we’ll be interested to
see exactly what kind of results we get. Yeah, indeed. Well, they’re showing up on my
screen, and I hope everybody else can see. What I see in the response
is that the responses are equivocal. But there is a kind of a central
tendency, if you will, and most people feel that the
size of the geospatial work force is somewhere between a
quarter million and a half million people in the
United States. There are others who think
it’s much higher. And there are others who
think it’s lower. So now let’s see what the
Department of Labor has said. Well, here’s that same table I
just showed you, only with the employment estimates and
projected growth added. And if you scroll your eyes down
to the bottom, you’ll see that the total estimated
workforce in 2008 was over 850,000. And to most of us, that’s
a fairly amazing number. And even more amazing, perhaps,
is the Department of Labor’s estimate that over the
next 10 years, an additional 340,000 workers in these 10
occupations will be needed. It’s a remarkable number. We all here in the webinar kind
of guessed in advance that this would be high,
relative to the estimates. And, of course, there’s lots
we can discuss about where these numbers come from, and
how reliable they might be. And our colleague, Rick Serby,
is going to have something to say about that in
a few minutes. But, right now, I think it’s
a good time for us to leave these slides, and we’re going
to go live right now. And in a minute, I hope you’re
going to see my screen. Somebody, let me know
if we’re seeing it. You’re going to see
my browser screen. Is that showing up, to Joe? I think that’s good, David. Yeah, I think you’re
ready to go. Yea, you got it. OK, great. So here’s what we’re doing. And you can follow
along at home. What we’re going to do is now
go visit the Department of Labor’s website, two
websites, actually. But, first, we’re going to start
the competency model clearinghouse. And it’s really easy to find. You see up in the upper right
hand corner of the browser that I have a Google window. And I’m just going to type
in “competency model clearinghouse.” OK? And I’m going to
search on that. And what you should find, right
at the top, is this website posted by the United
States Department of Labor. So let’s go there. And here we are. If you’ve been, as many of you
indicated, you have been. If you’ve been in this field for
a while, you should take some pride in the fact, and
then feel some excitement about the fact that, now, just
within the last few months, that listed among these high
growth industries, for which competency models have been
developed by the Department of Labor, that, included among
those industries, is our own geospatial technology. It’s a real milestone for
our field, I do believe. Let’s go look and see what
the geospatial technology competency model looks like. Now, you’re going to want
to spend more time on this on your own. I’m going to give a very, very
quick tour of this resource. I want to first of all say that
the credit they are given to the National Geospatial
Technology Center acknowledges the fact that that National
Science Foundation funded project provided the support
that allowed a panel of practitioners from very
diverse backgrounds in geospatial to work with the
Department of Labor to complete this model. And so I’m scrolling down now. And we’re going to
see the model. This is really just a graphic
depiction of the model. And this is the standard
Department of Labor framework. The competency model framework
the Department of Labor uses is a tiered approach competency
model that begins with really rather generic
competencies, personal effectiveness, academic
competencies, workplace competencies. The ones in gray and pink are
those competencies that tend to be applicable across a great
number of industries, not just a geospatial. There is one exception to our
field, though, that it includes a competency
category here. I’ll bring my pointer over, and
we’re going to look at. And that is a competency
specifically for geography. I clicked on that now. And when you click on this
model, you’ll see that you could go in and actually look
at the list of knowledge skills and abilities
associated with each of those topics. I also want to point out, if
I can scroll down a little further, that you can also– well, let me back up a moment. You can also download this
document as a PDF file. And here are those links to
get other documents so you don’t have just look
at it on the web. So the competency model
framework at the Department of Labor has these three, what they
call, foundational levels of competencies that, for the
most part, are not specific necessarily to geospatial. But when we get up to the fourth
and fifth years of this competency model, we encounter
critical work functions that are distinctively geospatial. Let’s begin with tier four. That is the core geospatial
abilities and knowledge. Notice that these are
compartmentalized because these are exemplary competencies
that the Department of Labor workforce
analysts and a panel of geospatial professionals who
validated this model and helped to complete it,
identified as exemplary abilities and knowledge that
geospatial professionals of all sorts, who will either need
to know currently, or will need to know most likely at
some point in their career. And if I scroll down, you’ll be
able to come back and take a look at the 44 exemplary
abilities and knowledge that really characterize, or
exemplify, the nature of expertise in our field. We could quibble about the
contents of that, and I’m sure that there will be discussion
about it. The point is that a list has
been developed, and has been acknowledged by the Department
of Labor to represent our field. And has been validated, not just
by a set of academics, like me, but by practitioners
with experience from a whole diverse array of backgrounds,
who have come to consensus on the nature of our field. Finally, or almost finally, now
pointing to tier five of the competency model. And here’s where competencies
are identified that are sector-specific. And the sectors used here, there
are three, positioning and data acquisition, analysis
and modeling, software and application development. An interesting thing about our
field is although market research tends to use market
sectors like this, at least the traditional market research
does, uses sectors like this to measure sales
of products and services. In this instance, when we’re
talking about the workforce, really, most people who work in
our field, I imagine many of our participants today, their
nature of their work, and their duties, crosses
these lines so that many geospatial professionals have
to be expert, not only in positioning in data acquisition,
but in analysis and modeling. And many, increasingly more
all the time, need to have expertise in software and
application development. And I just clicked on software
and application development. You can see the list of
exemplary competencies of critical work functions that
many geospatial professionals, at some point in their
career, will encounter, and need to master. And so you will want to come
back to this because time doesn’t permit us to
go into detail. Just one more thing I wanted
to show you here, if you notice in the Department of
Labor framework that when we start getting to these blue
tiers, six, seven, eight, and nine, we notice that there’s
nothing written in there because this is where we stop
thinking about industry-wide competency, and begin to think
about the nature of expertise for specific occupations, such
as the occupations we saw on the chart a few minutes ago. So when you click on this now,
I’m going to click on tier six, what that does is to
generate a search of occupation codes at the
Department of Labor’s occupational network site. That’s O-NET Online. And you can go and look
at this, too. This provides for us links
to the quite detailed descriptions of occupations
related to geospatial. Notice, and this is something
else that we should be excited about, and take pride in, that
geospatial information scientists and technologists,
for instance, is designated as what the Department of Labor
calls a bright outlook. If you have a young person in
your family, or a neighbor’s child that is thinking ahead
about what they might do as a career, well this is the kind
of thing you could point to with some optimism about
future prospects. And it’s even designated, as are
many of these occupations. So if we follow this link, and
jump in and look at what the Department of Labor says about
geospatial information scientists and technologists,
you’ll find enormously detailed and revealing lists
of tasks, of relevant knowledge, skills, abilities,
work activities. In other words, this occupation,
which is really a cluster of job descriptions that
as Rich will discuss, the occupations align– are really look more like
categories than they are like individual jobs. And we’ll discuss that
in a moment. But you will find a lot or
relevant information about the nature of that work, which ought
to be very useful, and again something that we could
take a lot of pride in for being recognized. It gets really interesting when
you drive down here, and see what the pay is for
these jobs, and what the employment is. And here’s that estimate. 209,000 employees in this
occupation, alone, in 2008, with an expected need of 72,600
additional employees in the next 10 years. Wow. That’s what I said when I first
saw these estimates. And I certainly, like most the
people in our participant group today, my estimate had
been much lower than what the Department of Labor said. But I think while we can
critique those numbers, and we surely will, we can also be, I
think, pretty excited about the fact that the Department of
Labor’s workforce analysts, who are not rookies at this
kind of estimation, by any means, that they are this
encouraged about our field. So, at this point, I’m going to
switch back over, and I’m going to return to Joe. And return to the slides. And I thank you for your
attention to this topic. And that brings us
to another poll. Thanks, David. And thanks for taking us on a
little test drive over the competency model. Certainly not enough time to
go into great depth on an hour-long call, but hopefully
folks will go out and do that, themselves. Following up with that, before
we move on to Rich, we’d like you to think a little bit about
some of the information you’ve seen so far. How accurate do you think those
Department of Labor estimates are? I was, quite frankly, surprised
when I saw the numbers, too. And certainly the amazing
amount of growth. So we’ve got both ends
of the spectrum represented in the answers. Is it grossly overestimated, or
grossly underestimated, or somewhere in between? Joe, let’s go ahead, and hit
that poll, and see how folks are reacting to those numbers
they’ve seen. About a third of the
folks are in now. A lot of numbers coming in. Going to be just a few more
seconds to respond. Think those numbers are
in line, or not? Yeah, and it looks like we’ve
got about 85% of the attendees voted, and we want to thank
them for their responses. So I’m going to go ahead and
close the poll, Wes. And show those results. And, so, right at half of you
think that the numbers are about right. And not too far behind, you’re
saying that those numbers are actually overestimated. So we’ve got some folks
that think the DOL is right on track. And some other folks that think
maybe we’re thinking a little bit ambitiously. Well that’s a great entree
to our next speaker. Rich Sirby, who I guess is
experiencing his 21st year in business as the president,
owner, and founder of GeoSearch, which is a personnel
recruitment firm in Colorado Springs, Colorado,
focusing specifically on the geospatial industry. Rich has a lot of experience in
actually hiring, and what’s going on, on the ground. So we’re going to turn to Rich
for some ground truth, and let him suggest if he thinks that
the DOL is really in sync. Rich, I’ll go ahead and
hand it over to you. Thank you very much. And I appreciate very much being
invited to participate, and I hope that some of the
information that I have to share will be useful,
and also to get to some of your questions. One of the things that we
certainly want to look at is the type of positions that
they described as GIS technicians, and I’m talking
about the Department of Labor, and mapping technicians,
which have a lot of similarities to them. And what we might see, as
recruiters, and currently posted, for instance, on our
website at, these are the kinds of titles
that we have seen that would be related to this level
of technologist, or technician, in 2010. And, as you can see, there’s a
wide variety of job titles that seem to be related
to this field. And if we could go to the next
slide, that will also illustrate the variety of job
titles that are involved. Once again, what we’re seeing,
organizations, whether they be commercial enterprises or public
agencies, will use their own job titles for
their specific purpose. And oftentimes, will use even
a different job title for working purposes when they’re
advertising a position, that may, or may not be,
representative of what they use for their internal
administrative purposes. And if we go on to that next
one, the geospatial software programmers is an area that the
Department of Labor did not address. And I’m not sure why this
category was not addressed, or if it will be in the future. But certainly it is
representative of the positions that are most in
demand, and the fastest growing category of all of the
positions that we deal with as recruiters. The ability to develop and
manipulate software programs within the field, as a
technician, as a specialist, as an analyst, as a developer,
is very much increasing. And we move on to that
next slide, then. And in the more traditional,
when we talk about surveyors and masters, cartographers, and
photogrammetrists, these were addressed by the
Department of Labor previously. They continue to be vary the
basis of the foundation of the industry, of the geospatial
sciences. But here, again, what we see are
very much representative of how the technology
has developed. We’re seeing LiDAR in demand
more and more each year. And we’re also seeing a very
robust return to the employment market here
recently, as compared to a year ago. So that’s good news
for all of us. Remote sensing scientists and
technologists certainly has been a growth area once again. Look at the variety of ways in
which those are titled– that particular category
is titled. Which really brings us to the
point of it is oftentimes misleading to use a job title
as a way to make assumptions about the position, which is why
the new competency model pyramid is so important
in terms of how we do these things. And it will continue to be
important, I believe, over the next years. We had Tyrone, who asked a
question about how are management titles addressed. And the simple answer to that
is they’re not addressed within the geospatial category,
specifically. The Department of Labor takes
categories, such as sales and marketing, and those are covered
more generically then are intended to be across
all industry sectors. And that is what they’ve
done in the sales marketing category. That’s what they’ve done in
the management category. So what you will want to do is
explore the Department of Labor categories in terms of
management competencies, and how those are described that are
intended to be across all industries. The same holds true with
colleges and universities research labs, and so forth,
as a separate Department of Labor category. The importance of the Department
of Labor competency models and descriptions really
cannot be overstated because we have for a very long time
struggled with how it is we describe specific positions. We have used the term
GIS technician as being a sort of baseline. This would be a person who is
proficient in using GIS software, but not at the
programming level. And then we have moved up into
specialists, and then above and beyond that, into scientist
and developers, and that category which
would include the programming skills. The consistency between what we
are seeing in terms of job descriptions and the Department
of Labor competency model is important because many
of our colleagues derive their living, either working
in a public agency at some level, or they are in a
commercial company the contracts to public agencies. And the descriptions, the
competencies, will have a trickle down effect in terms
of how federal, state, and local government agencies will
begin to describe the job requirements and competencies required for various positions. And even though we have seen, of
course, we were affected by the economy as was everyone else
over this past year or so, but we certainly are seeing
a bright improvement in the number of jobs available
currently, and we’re dealing with right now with what we
would call a very robust employment situation. And that will be something that
we can look forward to as the economy continues
to improve. What should you do as a
prospective candidate for a position in terms of your own
development, and how you plan your career? I would certainly use as a
baseline the competency pyramid that has
been developed. And because you will see with
regard to academic programs, certification programs, and the
like, that this model will be used in terms of course
development, program development, even degree
programming. The good news, certainly from
our perspective, is that we have seen a three-fold increase
in the jobs that are being hosted with us since the
same period one year ago. The 25% of that has
been within just the last three months. And my staff and I were
talking just within the last few days. The number of new inquiries
that we’re receiving from employers now is dramatically
improved in the first number of months of 2010. City, and county, and state
government agencies are still struggling because they are
always behind the curve, as they are the last ones to see
the drop off when the economy goes in a downward spiral. And they’re the last ones to see
the improvement after the economy starts to recover. And so right now, we still see
that the city and county and state government agencies,
in particular, are still struggling with budgets, and
the hiring is a bit flat in those sectors. The commercial market right now
is very much more active. And we could move
on to the next. And I think, Rich, this is where
we’re going to pause for a quick poll before we move on
to the career planning topics. So we want to give folks just a
moment to reflect upon what both you and David had said. So thinking about the competency
models, thinking about how those are really
matching up to what’s going on, that ground truth out in
the field, we’d like to ask the audience, how confident do
you feel about your career trajectory at this point? So are you really confident
about your preparation? Or are you kind of winging it,
or something in between? So go ahead and respond
to that poll. Got about a third
of the folks in. Now about half. Folks seem to be really animated
about how they feel about this particular topic. 73% in. Now about 80%. And we’ll leave that open just
a couple more seconds. We’re getting closer
to 90% mark. And, Joe, why don’t we go
ahead and close it. And so some of you
feel confident. Some of you were winging it. But a good 2/3 nearly, 59% are
considering adding skills, education, and/or some kind
of certification. And that’s exactly what
the next little bit of the call is about. We’d like to bring both Rich and
and David back to talk a little bit about how you can
employ some of the topics we’ve talked about in your
future career planning. So I’ll hand it back to you guys
for just a moment to take a look at long term
career planning. OK, this is David. I’ll be happy to start out. I just want to emphasize a
couple of points, rather than try to read through
all of the lists. And one is that a field like
ours that’s changing rapidly and growing and evolving at
a pace it’s growing and evolving, requires most of us
in the field to plan for a lifelong commitment
to education. And by education, I mean the
entire range from formal education to informal
education. This field requires us to
be lifelong learners. For some, the solution to that,
in part, might involve university offerings, such
as the ones we do online at Penn State. For many, many others, though,
your local or regional community college is going to
be an excellent solution for helping you keep your
skills up to date. And I should also say for quite
a few of you experienced practitioners, you may actually
be able to give back to the profession by working
with the community colleges as a part-time instructor. And for all that perspective,
I encourage you to visit the GeoTech Center at to learn more about that. The second thing I’d say, and
now I put my hat on this year as president this year of the
GIS certification Institute. I honestly do believe that
professional certification of one sort, or another, whether
it’s licensure for professional surveyors, or
voluntary certification for photogrammetrists, and remote
sensing specialists through ASPRS, or GIS professional
certification through the GIS Certification Institute. I’ve gotten involved in this,
and I encourage my students to get involved because I believe
this is worthwhile. Insofar as certification is
a kind of commitment to continuing professional
development, to that extent it structures and directs our
engagement with a lifelong learning in a way that ensures
that not only we’re going to remain skillful and valuable,
but also our profession will advance. Rich, what are your thoughts? Well, I certainly agree
with everything that you’ve spoken to. I especially would like to
emphasize that when you are involved in career planning,
and certainly when you are involved in job search
activities, this is very much a human activity. This is not something that can
be done simply by sitting at a computer, and hoping things will
work out for the best. The competencies model, I think,
gives us for the first time since I’ve been involved
with the industry, really gives us something very specific
with quite a lot of detail that we can use as we
begin to look at our own profile, our own resume,
and what it is we bring to the table. And I think we’ll become very
useful for individuals in terms of making some decisions
about what is next in that development, whether that be
formal education, or other kinds of experience. Upgrading and technical and
management skills is a lifelong activity. It never stops. And in a now industry, that we
would call the geospatial sciences, things progress so
rapidly that is very important that you do what is necessary
to do to keep up with it. So through workshops, or
certificate programs, or degree programs, whatever that
might be, allows you to make a point with an employer, and
give that employer some confidence that you have the
skills and the abilities necessary to make
a good employee. So those certifications, and so
forth, are very useful in that regard. We are still a skill
based industry. And so the representation of the
specific skills that you have to offer will be different
from employer to employer because of their
applications, and how it is they’re using the technology. One of the reasons that we are
surprised, and certainly pleasantly surprised, at the
Department of Labor numbers, in terms of forecasting, what
is coming down the pike, is the fact that geospatial
technologies are being used in literally all industries
right now. So this is not just a mapping
applied technology, set of technologies anymore. It’s being used in many
different ways in all industries. So the tool kit that you bring
with you as you continue in your career is going to be
useful in many direction, and allows for much flexibility
in terms of planning your own career. I would certainly be open
to Q&A at this point. Yep. And thanks Rich, and
thanks David. And while we get ready for Q&A,
we just want to take a moment to put up a slide, and
talk about the upcoming webinars in this particular
series that we’re hosting jointly with Directions Media. So Penn State and Directions
Media are really pleased to announce on December 9 at 2:00
PM Eastern, we’ll bring an expert panel from the geospatial
intelligence field. And we’re calling this
particular webinar “A Paradigm Shift in Geospatial
Intelligence?” with a question mark. And I’m not at liberty yet to
announce the panelists, but we’ve got that almost
solidified. And that should be a really
exciting webinar with Todd Backistow, who’s lead faculty
here in our Geospatial Intelligence Certificate
program. And then this coming spring,
we’re going to be looking at research innovation at Penn
State’s GeoVISTA Center, and visualization in our field. We’re hoping to put together
a panel across a number of programs, in terms
of professional Master’s degree in GIS. And then a lot of have been
having questions, as I’ve been skimming through the question
block, about how are we really going to prep everybody
for this huge growth in the industry. And David’s mentioned, and maybe
we’ll come back to this in the Q&A, the National
Geospatial Technology Center for Excellence, which is hoping
to apply the competency model to other arenas of
education, including the community college level, of
the education system. So we got some exciting
topics coming up, but those are the future. And we know you have questions
today, and we’ve got quite a few lined up. So assuming we’re ready, Joe,
for the first question, I’m going to hand back off to you. And Joe, and David, and
Rich are going to take the Q&A from here. Great. Thanks, Wes. And, yeah, we do have quite a
number of questions to get to. So let me just start off
a question from Frank. I’m new to GIS. Where should I be looking for
entry level positions? Maybe, Rich, do you
want to take that? Yes, I would point Frank toward
a couple of different directions. One is the entry level person
is very likely going to find his or her first job on their
own, or through connections that they may have through their
school programs, and also friends and colleagues. Because the entry level are
positions that are not often advertised, and certainly
recruiters are not hired to find very often entry
level staff members. So direct introduction to
agencies, and commercial companies, in terms of who you
are, and shaking hands with someone with a specific company
in your area is very important, too. Also internships. We see a dramatic increase. Matter of fact, we’ve been
in discussions about how internships, paid internships,
in particular, have seemed to have replaced what we used to
call entry level for many companies and some
public agencies. We have an example right here
in Colorado Springs where we have as many as 50 what we would
call entry level people, who are actually there on a
paid internship basis, and also earning college
credit for the work that they’re doing. Many of these people will be
offered permanent, full time employment eventually. But their internships are
critical in terms of how you can get a leg up in
the industry. Fantastic. Let’s take this question
from John. Each worker, or job, is
classified in only one occupation. Employers and work force
analysts need to decide what each employee’s primary
job duties are. I guess that maybe that’s a
question for Rich about classification of jobs. Well the classification of
positions, I think the DOL model is going to be useful in
making those a bit more clear. We have always used, in terms of
just our working terms, GIS technician as being
that entry level. First zero to three years kind
of experience without programming skill,
and so forth. And then we go to GIS
specialist, which may have an applications focus. May require some programming
ability. The same with the analysts. Increased knowledge and experience in analysis functions. And then we get into scientists
and developers, which requires a much higher
level of programming and development activity. So I believe that this new
competency model will help us a bit, in terms of how we
define those categories. Here’s a question from Mary. I develop curricula for GIS
certificates and associate degrees at a community
college. What resources are available for
us so that are curricula prepare students to meet the
DOL competencies for lower level GIS technicians? David? Yeah, this is David. That’s a great question. I mentioned earlier that the
GeoTech Center worked with the Department of Labor to help
bring the geospatial technology model to closure. What it did immediately next
was to create an assessment instrument based on the GPCM
that allows schools, at all levels really, and not just
schools, but training organizations within companies,
too, to assess how well their curricula align
with workforce needs, as identified in the GPCM. So you can go to the GeoTech
Center, website and in the resource repository there, you
can find freely available curriculum assessment
worksheet. And I answered one question
already, prospective students at higher education programs
should insist when they inquire, they should insist to
see those self assessments. They should insist that schools
perform the self assessments, and that they
share the results with perspective students. This is all brand new. So most educator’s frankly
haven’t even heard of this yet. This is breaking news. But the people who are on this
call who are now aware of this should insist that schools are
offering certificate programs, or degree programs, related
to geospatial. They should insist that those
schools perform the self-assessment, and show the
results so you can, as a consumer, could tell how well
that program addresses workforce needs. Thanks, David. And this from Ryan. How does this competency model
reflect on the GISP designation program? Is it tied in at all
to this model? Make it more substantial, or
slightly undermine it? Well, if you don’t mind, I will
take the question, as this year’s President of GIS
Certification Institute. I was involved in the
development of the GISP certificate program from
back when the risks and certification committee started
work on it in about 1998, 1999. And I was there when we
developed the portfolio-based certification criteria that
currently exist, and that was launched in 2004. At that time, in 2004, there was
no geospatial technology competency model, and there was,
in the judgment of that committee, there was no
legitimate basis for developing a competency based
certification that involved, say, an examination. Well, I can tell you, I will
speak for myself, but as I believe it’s true of many
other of the volunteer professionals who work with
GISCI, that many people now feel that there is a legitimate
basis, and that GISP certification should,
in some fair way, in some reasonable way, over a
reasonable period of time, should be upgraded and
strengthened to do an examination that is based, in
some fair and reasonable way, upon the GPCM and related
work in that area. Very good question,
by the way. Here’s a question. David, do the Department of
Labor numbers include GeoIntel, or is this considered
to be a separate profession? No, I think they’re meant
to include GeoIntel. The way it works is, if there
are firms who include GeoIntel professionals, and if they,
when reporting back to the Census Bureau and the economic
census, and to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, if those
employers previously categorized them as what was
called computer specialists all other, which is where GIS
people used to lurk before these new occupations were
created, if they were classified in that way, then
a portion of them were reapportioned to the
new occupations. That’s where these estimates,
in part, came from. So to the extent that GeoIntel
was already represented in that previous job
classification, would be partly, at least, represented
in the new one. The fact is, though,
that these 2008 estimates are just baselines. They are educated guesses. And the good news is now that
the occupations exist, and employers can use them to
designate their employees’ roles, then it’s reasonable to
expect that the estimates will improve and will converge
on accuracy over time. So it may very well be, and I
think it’s the consensus of this group, that the estimates
that we see might be overestimated by a factor of
two, or maybe even three. But they’re not off by an
order of magnitude. And it’s still a very,
very large number. And we can expect that over time
that those numbers are will converge on reality. Great. Here’s a question perhaps
for Rich. Are you seeing positions
requiring knowledge of Open Source software such as GRASS? We are not seeing that. We do see resumes with people
who are familiar with GRASS and MOSS, and some of the other
older GIS technologies. But in our work, day to day,
we’re seeing the usual suspects, in terms of ESRI
technologies, map info, and others that are commercially
provided. Thanks, Rich. David, maybe you could
address this one. Do you have any advice for
getting the US Department of Labor or other data on jobs
per metropolitan region? Are they broken up, the jobs,
geographically, I guess is the best way to put that. Right. Well I was glad you asked
that one, Joe. I was just trying to type out
an answer for that, and it’s easier to talk. So that’s great. Well, first of all, I’d say
that all of the DOL ETA estimates that I’ve seen have
been aggregated at the national level. There may well be estimates at
different scales, but I’m not aware of them. I would also like to point out
that for those of you who are in graduate programs, or
thinking of going into graduate programs, this
is a fabulous research opportunity now. And that is to be able to create
a predictive model within GIS that predicts the
distribution of geospatial job opportunities nationwide. One the first things I’d suggest
you did if you wanted to do a modeling project like
that is talk to Rich Sirby. Sorry, Rich, I didn’t warn
you this was coming. And to discuss what some of the
factors are that affect the kind of the density of
opportunities, geographically. Rich knows this as
well as anyone. There’s a striking geographic
variation in geospatial job opportunities. I personally have not
seen that modeled. I’ve not seen that estimated
in any predictive way. But that’s a great opportunity
for a Master’s thesis project right there. Great. Thanks, David. And we are now at the top of
the hour for our webinar. And it’s great to nearly 400
of you have stuck around to answer this. Obviously this is a very, very
important topic in our current economic climate. I want to thank our panelists,
David Dibiase of Penn State, and Rick Sirby of GeoSearch. And certainly our moderator, Wes
Stroh, also of Penn State. We hope that all of you will
join us for our next Penn State webinar, are Wes has said,
on December the ninth, as well as our upcoming webinar
from Directions Media on October the seventh
and October the 13th. Again, you can find all this
information at the directions magazine website at And look for the top line
menu item on webinars. Again, thanks for joining us
today, and be sure to tell a friend about Directions. Bye for now.

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