Review of the BCIT GIS Program: A Boon to Canadian GIS Job Seekers

When it comes to gaining an advantage in the GIS job market, it pays to invest in an Advanced Diploma program to complement any environmental science, geography, or urban planning education you may have. While students often gain a cursory knowledge of GIS through their undergraduate work, it really takes a GIS-focused program to differentiate themselves in terms of the marketable GIS skills that employers often prefer.

I have researched several postgraduate GIS programs in Canada and the US and will outline some of the best available. The first is that of the British Columbia Institute of Technology in Burnaby. BCIT offers an Advanced Diploma in GIS designed for those with a university or college degree in a related discipline. BCIT offers the program to students on a full-time or part-time basis. This is a challenging program that will provide you with much of the technical knowledge you need to differentiate yourself in today’s job market.

The BCIT GIS Advanced Diploma program has a strong emphasis on computer programming. They want graduates to be very good not only at customizing and building applications, but also at building web applications. Students learn GIS by applying Java, Python, JavaScript, PHP, among others. As such, you must be familiar with programming concepts and design before enrolling, although not necessarily proficient in any of the above languages.

It should be noted that BCIT accepted strong candidates who had no significant programming experience. In these cases, staff referred potential applicants to online programming tutorials to ensure they could learn basic programming fundamentals and to see if they would enjoy the programming aspect of the GIS courses. Students also use the Internet to present materials and therefore need to know how to use HTML and an HTML editor before beginning the courses. Students also find it very beneficial to brush up on their high school math skills before starting classes.

In addition to an emphasis on programming, the BCIT program will provide you with an understanding of GIS in terms of database structure, remote sensing, cartography, and spatial analysis in relation to environmental and business applications. Students will gain 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 of your work culminates in a project/internship to gain hands-on experience with a GIS employer.

Applicants are required to have a college degree, BC Associate’s degree, or technical diploma prior to enrollment in the program. Applicants with an international degree are required to submit a full transcript of records. When applying, students are also required to submit a resume and write a letter explaining their interest in the program and how they will prepare for the challenges it presents. The program is very intensive, with 30 hours of lab and lectures per week and an additional 20 to 30 hours of coursework per week.

Past graduates told me that because they developed GIS into a highly marketable skill through the BCIT program, BCIT allowed them to stay in their respective geology and marine biology disciplines.

BCIT’s relationship with employers for the thesis project/internship can be extremely valuable as newly acquired GIS skills can be combined with a field of study which 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 GIS introductory courses to people who just want to get hands-on knowledge of using GIS applications by taking a course or two. BCIT also offers a Bachelor of Technology degree in GIS, aimed at students who have an associate degree or Diploma of Technology at the start of the program and do not already have a bachelor’s degree. The B.Tech in GIS consists of the same specialist courses as the Advanced Diploma. To earn the degree, the student must also complete additional management and liberal arts credits and also complete six months of employment in the GIS field. In addition, in the fall of 2012, the Advanced Diploma program was offered entirely online as a distance learning course.

Thanks to Robert Libera | #Review #BCIT #GIS #Program #Boon #Canadian #GIS #Job #Seekers

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