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Thread: Geology Major - considering a Geomatics & Spatial Analysis minor

  1. #1 Geology Major - considering a Geomatics & Spatial Analysis minor 
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    I have recently switched into an Honours B.Sc. in Geology. I would like to get a second opinion on the potential applicability of studying Geomatics & Spatial Analysis in conjunction with a Geology specialization.

    I was previously enrolled in a chemistry degree so a great deal of my courses transfer to my new geology specialization. I have every required first year course except for "Introduction to Earth Materials". This has created a bottleneck in my course progression, figuratively speaking. I have room to fit another major into my degree. My tentative plan is to get a joint honours degree with a specialization in Geology and a major in Geomatics & Spatial Analysis.

    I've heard that GIS are applied in a variety of industries involving geology and that many geologists are expected to know how to use the software. Would learning about GIS be worthwhile for a geologist? Would a Geomatics major make me seem unfocused? Should I just go for a minor in the subject instead?

    I would greatly appreciate advice regarding this prospect.


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    Life-Size Nanoputian Flick Montana's Avatar
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    As a geologist, I can tell you one thing for sure; GIS experience will double your chance of getting a job.

    Even if you don't end up working in a GIS position, your ability to read the data in GIS programs will be paramount to getting a better job. I was fortunate enough to work in research that involved heavy GIS duty and it has earned me connections at my university, got me on at a state-level job, and helped me get in with hydrologists at the federal level.


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    Thanks for your input!

    I should specify that I would only have to take two additional courses to make a Geomatics minor into a major. One of those courses would be a first year programming course, which I feel would be valuable. My main concern was that a hiring manager may look at a second major and see me as unfocused. However I hope that wouldn't be an issue because the two fields are so closely related. My main specialization would still be Geology, the Geomatics & Spatial Analysis portion of my degree would be an additional major with less courses actually accredited to it. I suppose that could be clarified in a well-written cover letter anyway.

    At this point my intent is to get an M.Sc. in Earth Sciences after my undergraduate. Hydrology will be a focus in my course selection as I am keenly interested in it. I'm glad to hear that your GIS research experience helped you acquire a government job.
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    Life-Size Nanoputian Flick Montana's Avatar
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    I don't think anyone would look unfavorably at a second major. They might not be particularly interested in it, but I can't see a scenario where it would hurt.

    I think computer skills are so valuable in the geology field because a lot of people (from my experience) think of geology as a rather primitive science. They think it's about taking hammers to rocks and hiking through the woods sporting a huge beard. I work with some pretty sophisticated equipment and some rather complex programs (with a tragic lack of instructional help packaged with them). Along with computer skills, you would be well-advised to work on your mechanical skills as well. I often find myself out on my own with a broken piece of monitoring or measuring gear that I have to fix with limited tools. If you're handy with machines, you'll have a better shot at a hydrology position than someone who isn't.
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    I will definitely improve upon my computer skills as much as possible. I find the mathematical aspect of the discipline quite engaging; I'm looking forward to working with the complex software used in GIS and remote sensing technologies.

    You bring up a crucial point about mechanical skills. I am excited for the field work, but the thought of hands-on technical skills hadn't really occurred to me until now. I suppose it's something that's easy to overlook from an academic point of view. I will bear in mind that, in the reality of field work, mechanical skills are quite valuable.

    Thanks so much for your insight, I'm now certain that a major in Geomatics & Spatial Analysis will complement my Geology degree quite well.
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    Yeah, I never ONCE took a mechanical class where I learned to look after the equipment we use. It's just one of those things you find out on the job. You go to take a measurement and your stream gauge is not working properly, what do you do? They don't have a class for that.

    Depending upon what you do, you might work with gauging stations or generators or your vehicle might experience problems, etc.

    It all just depends on what you do. I'm involved in monitoring and measuring so I spend a lot of time in the field and on the water.

    Best of luck to you!
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