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How to make a career in Geointelligence?

How to make a career in Geointelligence?

The Geointelligence market today is mainly driven by the demand for convergence of geospatial data with mainstream technologies. Trends suggest that there has been an escalation in the demand for geospatial analytics solutions with artificial intelligence capabilities across various industries. This is not all, as commoditization of geospatial data for industry use has also led to growth in the segment.

The market for geospatial intelligence was valued at USD 30.71 Billion in 2016 and is projected to reach USD 73.91 Billion by 2021, at a CAGR of 19.2%. These trends have led to an explosion of career opportunities in the geointelligence landscape worldwide.


The U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation’s (USGIF) leads the Geointelligence landscape, and tackles these global problems. The organization has made significant efforts at accreditation and support of academic programs, over the years. These efforts have mostly been directed towards establishing standards throughout the Geointelligence community and the Geointelligence profession.

Is Geointelligence a good career for you?

Theresa Whelan during a USGIF Geoint event

The field is diverse, and goes beyond the scope of geospatial intelligence systems and technology degree. Today the field is transforming continually with research being undertaken in new areas. These include crowdsourcing and forecasting. The new areas make the field more enticing for aspirants to consider a career in geointelligence.

Moreover, it’s not easy to spot qualified GIS and remote sensing experts. Reports suggest that shortages of experts in the fields of cartography, photogrammetry, geodesy, and emerging areas will continue until 2030. Moreover, geointelligence also helps in safeguarding a nation’s security, or obtaining intel about enemy plans. Basically, recent advances in technology has made geoinelligence an interesting choice for career.

What kind of skills are required to make a career in Geointelligence?

Expertise in data analysis and use of technology isn’t all that governs the field of geointelligence. The domain combines the use of specialized skill sets today. Transforming patterns of human activity and real-world problems is studied and analyzed leveraging applies established principles, tools, and techniques.

Soft skills like passion for geography, interest for numbers, visualization skills, people skills, networking skills, grit to undertake highly sensitive missions, analytical thinking, and more come handy for a person planning to pursue a career based on geointelligence. However, at the end of the day, a person imbibing all those attributes without really working on his GIS or Geospatial technology knowledge is not expected to prosper much in the space.

Power of mapping is considered an important skill for Geointelligence

Besides, the qualities, know-how, and skills mentioned above, an ideal candidate must reflect domain based proficiency in at least one or more of the following:

  • geography – human, physical, environmental
  • technologies in use (RS, UAV, IT, and more)
  • database design/ data management/ data security /software implementation
  • specialized skillsets – imagery analysis /cyber forensics / ethical hacking/ cryptography / deep web data mining / criminology /intelligence tradecraft / expertise in regional sociology
  • homeland security / police /other law enforcement agency background
  • business strategy, disaster management, crisis response
  • analytics – video analytics, data analytics, social media analytics
  • military / defense background

Planning a career in Geointelligence

GIS Police analyst uses Geospatial skills to fight crime

Some of the job roles that a Geointelligence professional might pursue; or closely associated with the field include GIS Practitioners, Analysts, Geography Researchers, Servicemen / ex-servicemen, members of law enforcement agencies, and imagery analysts. Engineers studying the fields of IT, Earth Science, Geoinformatics, Civil, Avionics, and Remote Science could also be considered for Geointelligence roles.

The profession entails competency based learning, and USGIF has established the Universal GEOINT EBK (Essential Body of Knowledge), which identifies the knowledge, skills and abilities considered critical to the GEOINT profession. In case you’re planning a career in Geointelligence, it’s advisable to look up the EBK.

There are essentially two ways of going about it. Both the paths involve you starting off with a basic degree. Let’s have a look:

1.Essentially here you have a basic degree, and you are someone who has also worked, reflecting on a job experience. Now, you can go ahead and pursue professional certifications in Geointelligence, and you could go for a specialization in an intelligence tradecraft. Your focus should be on enhancing the learning curve in the fields you chose.

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2.The second road is where you might have already acquired a diploma/certification in Geointelligence, right after pursuing your basic degree. Here, your next move should be to acquire robust job experience in one or more domains.

Industries that need Geointelligence professionals

To see a future in the Geointellignce field, it’s also important to plan what industry, government agency, or sector of the economy you’ll be working in. Moreover, there are several sub-sectors in the profession, and academia, so you must identify your niche. Next, you must outline the courses you plan to take in college or the extra study you might pursue during your spare time.

From national security to national policymaking, and stretching across several domains of commerce and technology, Geointelligence professionals can choose from an array of career options. This list might give you a brief idea about the types of career roles, industries, and employers you might see in the field. This list is intended at shedding light on the career options you could consider to seeing a future in Geointelligence:

  • Military – Geospatial Intelligence Agency, CIA, and other DoD
  • Environmental – EPA, Nature Conservancy, other non-profits, environmental consulting firms
  • Retail/Commercial Real Estate – Large retailers, consulting firms, technology firms developing relevant applications for real estate decisions and real estate professionals
  • Municipal/County/State Government Agencies – Maintaining a GIS back-office for local government agencies to assist with tax collection, utilities, etc.
  • Urban Planning – Similar to local government but focused on planning and design.
  • Geohealth – CDC, NIH, hospitals, public health agencies.
  • Other commercial/business uses.
  • Other government agencies, e.g., Census

Scope for India

General Bikram Singh inaugurating GeoIntelligence India 2014

Today, about 80 percent of business data worldwide has a geographic component, making location intelligence and business intelligence crucial elements of any business analytics strategy. Geointelligence is designed to turn data into insight. The domain uses tools that draw on a variety of data source maps, demographics, and the GIS.

In India, concerns like shortage of skilled human resource in the fields of GIS & Remote Sensing obstruct the industry from prospering. Both the fields are still in their dormant stages and have tremendous potential to grow. On final thought, Geointelligence is the best move as a career for someone with the skills and zeal to shine in the field. Geointelligence professionals in India will surely gain accelerated growth & development prospects.

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