A booming energy sector is creating a strong market for graduates with degrees in Geographic Information Systems technology.
The turmoil in Washington over the controversial Keystone Pipeline Project (the pipeline that would move tar sands crude oil from Canada to locations in the U.S.) has obscured an important employment trend for today’s graduates: the fact that the GIS (Geographic Information Systems) technology used to build the 2,000-plus mile, $12 billion pipeline indicates high demand for college graduates with GIS degrees.
Regardless of the eventual fate of the Keystone Pipeline Project, the surge in demand for GIS qualified jobseekers is likely to intensify. Federal mandates under the Clean Water Act require new pipelines or right-of-ways to be surveyed and mapped as a safeguard against unforeseen effects on the environment.
With the network of U.S. pipelines experiencing substantial gains – from 131,000 miles in 2005 to 149,000 in 2009 – the acquisition of a GIS degree gives energy sector jobseekers an advantage in both the current and future job markets.
“GIS provides an essential tool for managing a project of this scale and magnitude and GIS professionals are the right people that make this happen,” says Devon Cancilla, Ph.D., dean, business and technology at American Sentinel University.
According to Cancilla, American Sentinel’s online GIS degree equips students with the ability to interpret and visualize spatial data, information that is vital to the discovery of patterns, trends and relationships in geo-mapping. Qualified GIS professionals are responsible for identifying natural resources and hazards (e.g. migratory patterns of wildlife), at a time when better decision-making is a critical objective throughout the energy sector.
Without GIS technology, reporting for the Keystone Pipeline Project and other oil industry initiatives would be virtually impossible. That’s good news for jobseekers, since rising energy demands ensure the value of GIS degrees well into the foreseeable future.