What Does a Geomatic Engineer Do?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A geomatic engineer designs and uses systems used to collect locational data. Such systems are critical for applications ranging from navigation systems in cars to scientific surveys. Advanced degrees are available in this field, which integrates a number of disciplines including surveying, mathematics, and geology. Employment opportunities are available with government agencies, private companies, and non-profit organizations that engage in activities like spatial surveying and design.

Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

Location data is the underpinning of maps, including physical maps to provide navigational information as well as other types of map-based data. Maps may convey geological, demographic, or meteorological details, among many others. Geomatic engineers can design the systems used to collect and record location information. These systems may interact with Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) systems and other reference points used to record data accurately.

Utilizing such systems can also be part of the job. A geomatic engineer might work as part of an oil and gas exploration team, for example. The engineer would be tasked with collecting location information, marking relevant data, and ensuring that all material of interest is recorded on a detailed map that provides background on a survey location. Other engineers can participate in survey teams to prepare home sites, collect data for scientific studies, and engage in other location-based research and development. This requires an understanding not only of spatial relations and location data, but the discipline where the data will be used, in order to provide reliable and useful information.

Work environments can vary, depending on the kind of work a geomatic engineer does. Some are employed primarily in lab settings to work on systems design. Others spend more time in the field to test equipment and collect information as part of ongoing studies. Being able to cooperate with a team is often critical. Such teams may include other engineers as well as designers, biologists, and other researchers who want to be able to use and manipulate location data.

The level of education needed to become a geomatic engineer is variable. Higher degrees can provide more job opportunities, including positions in research and academic institutions. For activities like surveying oil and gas sites, a four year degree may be all that is required. Someone considering a career as a geomatic engineer might want to look at the qualifications held by people working in the specific industry of interest to learn more about what may be expected of job applicants.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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