Review of the BCIT GIS Program: A Boon to Canadian GIS Job Seekers
When it comes to getting an edge in the GIS job market, it’s worth investing in an Advanced Diploma program to complement any education you may have received in environmental science, geography or urban planning. While students often gain a cursory knowledge of GIS through their undergraduate work, it really takes a GIS-focused program to differentiate itself in terms of the marketable GIS skills that employers often prefer.
I have reviewed several GIS graduate programs in Canada and the US and am going to describe some of the best available. The first is that of the Institute of Technology of British Columbia located in Burnaby. BCIT offers an Advanced Diploma in GIS designed for those with a college or university degree in a related discipline. BCIT offers the program to full-time or part-time students. This is a challenging program that will give you much of the technical knowledge you need to help you differentiate yourself in today’s job market.
Notably, BCIT has admitted strong candidates who did not have significant programming experience. In these cases, staff directed potential candidates to online programming tutorials to ensure they could get the basics of programming and see if they would enjoy the programming aspect of GIS courses. Students also use the web to present materials and therefore need to know how to use HTML and an HTML editor before starting the courses. Students also find it very beneficial to brush up on high school math skills before starting classes.
In addition to the emphasis on programming, the BCIT program will give you an understanding of GIS in terms of database structure, remote sensing, mapping, and spatial analysis with both environmental and business applications. Students have hands-on experience with the latest ESRI and Autodesk GIS software and you will also be exposed to IT, management and organizational issues related to GIS. All your work culminates in a project/practicum course to gain real-world experience with a GIS employer.
Applicants must have completed a college degree, a BC associate degree, or have a diploma in technology prior to entering the program. Applicants with an international degree will be required to submit for a full credential assessment. In the application, students will also need to provide a resume and write a letter explaining their interest in the program and how they will prepare for the challenges it will bring. This is because the program is very intensive with 30 hours per week in labs and lectures and another 20 to 30 hours per week in coursework.
Former graduates told me that BCIT allowed them to stay within their particular fields of geology and marine biology, respectively, because they developed GIS as an extremely marketable skill through the BCIT program.
BCIT’s relationship with employers for the final project/internship can be extremely valuable because new GIS skills can be combined with a degree discipline that can lead to employment in the student’s chosen niche.
It should be noted that BCIT offers several GIS programs. They offer many of their introductory GIS courses to people who are just looking to gain a working knowledge of how to use GIS applications by taking a course or two. BCIT also offers a Bachelor of Technology in GIS, aimed at students who, upon entering the program, have an Associate’s Degree or a Diploma in Technology and do not yet have a Bachelor’s Degree. The B.Tech in GIS consists of the same technical courses as the Advanced Diploma. In addition, to earn the degree, the student must complete additional management and liberal arts credits, and also complete six months of work in the GIS field. Additionally, in Fall 2012, the Advanced Diploma program was offered entirely online by distance learning.
Rate: 4-5 stars
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