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Schools/Programs for Geomatics/GIS/Surveying/Urban Planning?

  • Last Updated:
  • Dec 29th, 2012 1:58 pm
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Newbie
Aug 24, 2012
15 posts
4 upvotes
Toronto
Yeah - they don't teach you everything at school :) Trust me. I wrote commercial geomatics software for a living - to get anywhere in GIS as a career you really need *some* programming skills. My uni courses in GIS had programming as part of the labs and it was not taught in class. As an operator you may just be using SQL or similar query languages for accessing and managing databases. As a GIS specialist you would be required to create custom applications (windows programming) or do hardcore backend manip (think database programming - yuck!). And that essentially is what GIS...is - large spatially correlated databases strung together with sets or rules (search and access queries) and accessed by a spatial GUI. So if you don't know how to manipulate it with code - you are only going to be adding value to your employer as an analyst or operator using pre-existing tools, a job that is fairly easy to teach someone already in the field. So competition is higher for jobs as the barriers to entry are fewer and any computer operator job now is becoming increasingly easier to outsource to Asia. Like engineering companies are doing with low-end CAD jobs. So long term job security may be a bit weaker.

Which leads me to this point: GIS is used in an extremely wide range of industries/fields (I'm sure you realized this!). From healthcare (think disease tracking/management) to defense/military to urban planning. If I were interested in GIS - I would view it as a tool I'd want to use instead of a sole focus - unless you love the software/DB side of the things.

It'll be interesting to see how you like your food/science and finance courses as both have some positions that could use GIS in gathering and analyzing data. Also - GIS has tons of uses in marketing/sales.

Although I've used GIS in a variety of capacities over the past 12-13 years, I only use it now for the occasional quick check. So try the Esri or MapInfo user forums as well. Ask someone who is actually using ArcGIS or Mapinfo on a daily basis to see what they do, level of programming/search queries, job security, etc..

Good luck!
[OP]
Deal Fanatic
Jul 8, 2010
6530 posts
262 upvotes
York
Great info, thank you!

I think this semester will clear things out for me, by taking a course in each of the possible fields I'll later on go on to explore even deeper. It really sucks when one day I want to be a GIS analyst, the next a financial analyst, and have an interest in nutrition also. Can't choose anything, and time is ticking.
Newbie
Aug 24, 2012
15 posts
4 upvotes
Toronto
Don't fret the "university choose my life now thing". The choices you are making are important, of course, but it's just one type of a starting point. I went through engineering with people in their late 30's...just starting...and they started someplace else. I would just focus on what you like to do - that's all part of the uni experience in narrowing that down. So enjoy yourself, make sure you spend some time in the pub, and genuinely be excited about your freedom of choice. We are lucky to have it.

Good luck!
[OP]
Deal Fanatic
Jul 8, 2010
6530 posts
262 upvotes
York
engamaneer wrote:
Dec 22nd, 2012 1:21 pm
Don't fret the "university choose my life now thing". The choices you are making are important, of course, but it's just one type of a starting point. I went through engineering with people in their late 30's...just starting...and they started someplace else. I would just focus on what you like to do - that's all part of the uni experience in narrowing that down. So enjoy yourself, make sure you spend some time in the pub, and genuinely be excited about your freedom of choice. We are lucky to have it.

Good luck!
Heh, people like you make it sound nice :) Main reason I'm having such difficulty is I'm afraid to be behind in my 20s or 30s. Say I graduate with an environmental degree and do GIS until I'm 30, then bam, I have thoughts of becoming a financial analyst. Who's going to take a 30 year old with 0 experience and knowledge in accounting/finance. Unless I have very close friends working in that field who can give me a shot.. it's not gonna happen.
Newbie
May 3, 2012
83 posts
5 upvotes
All I know is that Waterloo is the school you want to go to for urban planning. Not sure about geomatics, but its an engineering degree right? While surveying/GIS is more of a diploma program? Seems like Waterloo is a safe bet.
Newbie
Aug 24, 2012
15 posts
4 upvotes
Toronto
dankup wrote:
Dec 22nd, 2012 1:46 pm
Main reason I'm having such difficulty is I'm afraid to be behind in my 20s or 30s. Say I graduate with an environmental degree and do GIS until I'm 30, then bam, I have thoughts of becoming a financial analyst. Who's going to take a 30 year old with 0 experience and knowledge in accounting/finance. Unless I have very close friends working in that field who can give me a shot.. it's not gonna happen.
Question #1: Behind in what?

Trying to plan everything out and anticipate every detail, particularly in today's world, will drive you insane.

What worked for me was: a) budgeting and saving. Money = independence. b) Taking calculated risks = more experiences and opportunity. I don't have it all figured out but the journey, so far, has been unique and enjoyable to say the least.

I think the bigger question is a philosophical one: What do you want? What are you playing for?
[OP]
Deal Fanatic
Jul 8, 2010
6530 posts
262 upvotes
York
engamaneer wrote:
Dec 25th, 2012 2:40 pm
Question #1: Behind in what?

Trying to plan everything out and anticipate every detail, particularly in today's world, will drive you insane.

What worked for me was: a) budgeting and saving. Money = independence. b) Taking calculated risks = more experiences and opportunity. I don't have it all figured out but the journey, so far, has been unique and enjoyable to say the least.

I think the bigger question is a philosophical one: What do you want? What are you playing for?
Behind in "life". What I mean by that is perhaps working on my degree when I'm 24 as opposed to students that graduate when they're 22. Behind by maybe needing to go back to school (something I will not do) when I'm 35 to switch from accounting to real estate appraisal (just an example).

It's already driving me insane, lol. I'm very analytical and conservative. If I don't see an end goal, I don't see why I should pursue something on the off chance it will never happen. For example, studying to become a geographer to then turn everything around and become a nurse.

I have more money saved up than most students in university (just how it is, no show off). You don't have it all figured out but I want to have it all figured out. Why, at 19, am I supposed to pursue some field if at 30 I say screw it and become something else (there's a chance, right). I would say that would be a waste of time and money. I'd like to try many, many things while I have the chance.

I'm starting to feel as though I'm thinking about it far too much and I should just flip a coin on a career, and whatever happens, happens. If I'll become a karate instructor with an accounting degree so be it, I would just see no point in having the accounting degree.
Sr. Member
Mar 9, 2008
733 posts
85 upvotes
Winnipeg
What the hell are you talking about? Most of the losers I know who graduated from university (and there is a lot of them) are unemployed or back living with their parents. Hardly what I would call a "success".

You're thinking about this too much. If you find something that you're truly passionate about, age will start to matter less and less.
[OP]
Deal Fanatic
Jul 8, 2010
6530 posts
262 upvotes
York
mastercool wrote:
Dec 25th, 2012 6:34 pm
What the hell are you talking about? Most of the losers I know who graduated from university (and there is a lot of them) are unemployed or back living with their parents. Hardly what I would call a "success".

You're thinking about this too much. If you find something that you're truly passionate about, age will start to matter less and less.
I guess that's not too much of an accomplishment. Is it because they got fashion and history degrees? I agree that I'm thinking about it too much, gonna take this semester (along with a light courseload) and maybe get some certifications and whatnot. Personal training is on the top of my list.
Sr. Member
Mar 9, 2008
733 posts
85 upvotes
Winnipeg
Unless you major in nursing or something that's in high demand, you'll probably end up working at Best Buy that's just the facts.
[OP]
Deal Fanatic
Jul 8, 2010
6530 posts
262 upvotes
York
mastercool wrote:
Dec 26th, 2012 12:25 am
Unless you major in nursing or something that's in high demand, you'll probably end up working at Best Buy that's just the facts.
Nah no healthcare for me, but am looking at something in demand.
Newbie
Aug 24, 2012
15 posts
4 upvotes
Toronto
mastercool wrote:
Dec 25th, 2012 6:34 pm
What the hell are you talking about? Most of the losers I know who graduated from university (and there is a lot of them) are unemployed or back living with their parents. Hardly what I would call a "success".

You're thinking about this too much. If you find something that you're truly passionate about, age will start to matter less and less.
Yes and besides, when was "life" a race? I played the same game and am wired in a similar fashion. I need to see purpose in what I'm doing. But my it was my persistence that led me down the path to finding what I liked to do. It just took longer than "normal" people:-)

The only thing I wish I had done earlier was some formalized career planning to get a better idea of my natural talents, innate abilities and areas of interest. Our high school guidance and even uni career counseling was total crap. The best resources I found were:"What Color is My Parachute?" and the newer book "Now What?" You can get both on Kindle. They didn't have the "answer", per se, but they helped refine my search by forcing me to ask questions and do research I normally wouldn't have done.

I chose engineering as the core knowledge and training is highly transferable. And if I were 19 or 20 right now, that's where I would focus in today's changing world, something solid and transferable - unless you know 100% of course! Work away, saving $ and try new things, keep looking and narrowing things down. That's part of the fun...no?

My top 3 fields:
1. Engineering
2. Health care
3. Finance
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