Remote Sensing Scientists and Technologists
Overview | Specific
Work Activities | Common Work Activities | Related
Occupations | Skills and Abilities | Working
Conditions | Physical Demands | Knowledge
| Interests | Wages | Current
Employment | Outlook |
Helpful High School Courses | Preparation
| Related Educational Programs | Hiring Practices
| Licensing/Certification/Designation/Registration |
Advancement Opportunities | Additional
Sources of Information
- Use Geographic Information Systems (GIS),
aerial photography, and satellite images
- Work in a variety of fields
- Sit for a long period of time
- Most have a bachelor's degree
- About 12 percent of all physical scientists are self-employed
- Earn $102,990 per year (Hawaii median)
Remote sensing scientists and technologists use devices and sensors to see the features of an area, its resources, or to measure its size and shape.
Remote sensing scientists and technologists gather data that can be used to:
- Get information about drought areas
- Map ocean currents
- Evaluate climate changes
- Predict weather
Remote sensing scientists and technologists determine what kind of information is required for a project and then figure out which type of sensor or device to use to get the information. Tools they use for gathering information include:
- Aerial photography
- Satellite images
- Global Positioning Systems (GPS)
- Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
Scientists use these tools to collect data from places where humans cannot go, like space or the bottom of the ocean. Sometimes scientists and technologists go to a location to compare what they see there with the data they gather from the sensing devices.
Remote sensing scientists and technologists use computers and mathematical models to interpret data or create maps. They also use the data to write reports.
The following list of occupational tasks is specific to remote sensing scientists and technologists.
- Test data acquired from aircraft, satellites, or sensors on the ground using computers.
- Test and sort data obtained from remote sensing systems.
- Work with aerial and satellite pictures to create products such as maps that show the effects of climate change on forests.
- Develop and build databases for remote sensing and related geospatial project information.
- Decide if changes are needed by checking the quality of remote sensing data.
- Attend meetings or seminars and read current literature to maintain knowledge of developments in the field of remote sensing.
- Write and present reports that show data gathered from projects.
- Create and study ways to make better use of remote sensing technology.
- Talk about project goals, equipment, and methods with colleagues and team members.
- Integrate other geospatial data sources into projects.
Remote sensing scientists and technologists perform the following list
of tasks, but the tasks are common to many occupations.
- Use computers.
- Analyze data or information.
- Process information.
- Update and use job-related knowledge.
- Identify objects, actions, and events.
- Get information needed to do the job.
- Organize, plan, and prioritize work.
- Make decisions and solve problems.
- Communicate with supervisors, peers, or subordinates.
- Document and record information.
- Think creatively.
- Explain the meaning of information to others.
- Communicate with people from outside the organization.
- Estimate sizes, quantities, time, cost, or materials
- Establish and maintain relationships.
- Provide advice and consultation to others.
- Teach others.
- Coordinate the work and activities of others.
- Evaluate information against standards.
- Schedule work and activities.
- Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
Hawaii Career Pathways:
- Industrial & Engineering Technology
Related O*NET Specialties:
Remote sensing scientists and technologists need
- Understand spoken and written information.
- Express ideas clearly when speaking or writing.
Reason and Problem Solve
- Combine several pieces of information and draw
- Notice when something is wrong or is likely
to go wrong.
- Use reasoning to discover answers to problems.
- Develop rules or follow guidelines when arranging
items in a certain order.
- Think of new ideas or original and creative
ways to solve problems.
- Concentrate and not be distracted while performing
Use Math and Science
- Choose a mathematical method or formula to solve
Perceive and Visualize
- Identify a pattern (a figure, object, word,
or sound) that is hidden in distracting material.
- Quickly and accurately compare letters, numbers,
objects, pictures, or patterns.
- Imagine how something will look if it is moved
around or its parts are rearranged.
In a typical work setting, remote sensing scientists and technologists:
- Have a low level of social interaction.
- Usually communicate via phone, e-mail, or in-person conversations.
- Have limited responsibility for the work done by others.
- Often work as part of a project team.
Physical Work Conditions
- Work mostly indoors, but occasionally work outdoors.
- Must be very exact and accurate when interpreting
images and data.
- Usually do not consult a supervisor before making
a decision or setting tasks and goals.
- Meet strict daily and weekly deadlines. This
makes the work atmosphere somewhat competitive.
- Often make decisions that strongly impact coworkers
and their company.
- Repeat the same physical and mental activities.
Hours / Travel
- Usually work a standard work week.
Remote sensing scientists and technologists frequently:
- Sit for long periods of time.
It is important for remote sensing scientists and technologists to
be able to:
- See details of objects that are less than a
few feet away.
- Speak clearly so listeners can understand.
- Understand the speech of another person.
- Use fingers to grasp, move, or assemble very
It is not as important, but still necessary, for remote sensing scientists and technologists to be able to:
- See differences between colors, shades, and
- Hold the arm and hand in one position or hold
the hand steady while moving the arm.
- Use one or two hands to grasp, move, or assemble
- Hear sounds and recognize the difference between
- Make quick, precise adjustments to machine controls.
Remote sensing scientists and technologists need
knowledge in the following areas:
- Geography: Knowledge of land, sea, and air masses.
Also includes knowledge of how to describe their location, features, and relationships.
- Computers and Electronics: Knowledge of computer
hardware and software.
- Mathematics: Knowledge of the rules and uses
of numbers. Areas of knowledge include arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and
- English Language: Knowledge of the meaning,
spelling, and use of the English language.
- Engineering and Technology: Knowledge of how
to build machines, buildings, and other things. Also includes knowledge of
how to use computers, machines, and tools to do work more usefully.
- Physics: Knowledge of the features and rules
of matter and energy. Areas of knowledge include air, water, light, heat,
weather, and other natural events.
Remote sensing scientists and technologists are people who tend
- Consider achievement important. They like to
see the results of their work and to use their strongest abilities. They like
to get a feeling of accomplishment from their work.
- Consider recognition important. They like to
work in jobs which have opportunities for them to advance, be recognized for
their work, and direct and instruct others. They usually prefer jobs in which
they are looked up to by others.
- Consider independence important. They like to
make decisions and try out ideas on their own. They prefer jobs where they
can plan their work with little supervision.
- Consider good working conditions important.
They like jobs offering steady employment and good pay. They want employment
that fits their individual work style. They may prefer doing a variety of
tasks, working alone, or being busy all the time.
- Consider support from their employer important.
They like to be treated fairly and have supervisors who will back them up.
They prefer jobs where they are trained well.
- Have realistic interests. They like work activities
that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They like to work
with plants, animals, and physical materials such as wood, tools, and machinery.
They often prefer to work outside.
- Have investigative interests. They like work
activities that have to do with ideas and thinking. They like to search for
facts and figure out solutions to problems mentally.
Occupational Interest Codes:
Wage information is not available specifically for remote sensing scientists and technologists. However, they are part of the larger group of "physical scientists, all other."
Wages vary by employer and area of the country. The individual's specialty and level of experience and responsibility also affect wages. Those who have supervisory duties usually earn higher wages.
Remote sensing scientists and technologists who work full time usually receive benefits. Typical benefits include sick leave, paid vacation, and health insurance. Some employers also provide a retirement plan. Self-employed remote sensing scientists and technologists must provide their own insurance.
Physical scientists, all other
The number of remote sensing scientists and technologists employed in Hawaii and nationally is not available.
About 12 percent of all physical scientists are self-employed.
- Consulting firms
- Local, state, and federal government agencies
In Hawaii, outlook information is not available specifically for remote sensing scientists and technologists. However, they are part of a larger group of "physical scientists, all other." Average employment growth is expected for workers in this group through the year 2020.
Nationally, employment of workers in this group is expected to grow as fast as the average through the year 2020.
The table below provides information about the number of physical scientists, all other in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings. Information is not available specifically about remote sensing scientists and technologists.
Much of the job growth for remote sensing scientists and technologists will be due to the growing green sector of the economy. Remote sensing will be used as part of energy consulting and research into developing new environmentally friendly technologies and ideas. Opportunities will be best for scientists and technologists with strong technical, computing, and communication skills.
The use of advanced technologies, such as GPS, GIS, and remote sensing, will continue to increase both the accuracy and productivity of these workers. This will limit job growth to some extent. However, job openings will continue to arise from the need to replace workers who leave this occupation.
Physical scientists, all other
In high school, take classes that prepare you for college. A college preparatory curriculum may be different from our state's graduation requirements. Click here for public school graduation requirements for the Class of 2014 and 2015. Click here for the graduation requirements for the Class of 2016 and beyond.
If you attend a private school, check with your school counselor for graduation
requirements. Remote sensing scientists and technologists need a strong background in math and science. Try to take math classes through Trigonometry and science classes through Physics.
You should also consider
taking some advanced courses in high school. This includes Advanced Placement
(AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses if they are available in your
school. If you do well in these courses, you may receive college credit for
them. Advanced courses can also strengthen your college application.
Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this
- Computer Applications
- Computer Programming
- Computer Science
The courses listed above
are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already
done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering
You should also check with
a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available
in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing,
internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to
help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.
Join some groups, try some
hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating
in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself.
Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Click here for examples
and groups that may be available in your high school or community.
To work as a remote sensing technologist, you typically need to:
To work as a remote sensing scientist, you typically need to:
- have a high school diploma or GED;
- have at least an associate degree in a related field; and
- have related work experience.
- have a high school diploma or GED; and
- have at least a bachelor's degree in a related field.
Almost all remote sensing scientists and technologists have a bachelor’s degree in geography, civil engineering, environmental engineering, planning, surveying and mapping, or a related physical science. Computer science courses are a good addition to a student’s preparation for this job. In addition, more colleges and universities are offering certificates in remote sensing, GIS, photogrammetry, or a related field.
Technologists can study for this field by gaining an associate degree in geography or a related field and working their way into this occupation through experience. However, the standard education level is a bachelor’s degree.
Many scientists in this field have a master’s degree in geography or a related field. You need a doctoral (Ph.D.) degree to teach remote sensing and geospatial information at a college. Many colleges and universities offer advanced degrees in geography.
Working as a research assistant for a geographer is good experience for this field. Look for this kind of work when you are a college student. Some students complete an internship while in school. This is important work experience for finding a job.
Depending on your employer, you may receive training on your first job. The length of training varies by employer, but may last up to one year.
- Construction Trades
- Engineering Technologies
- Natural Resources and Conservation
- Public Health
Employers look for scientists who have earned at least a bachelor's degree in geography, civil engineering, or a related field. Technologists need to have a two-year degree to gain work.
Employers look for workers who know how to use computers and mapping software. Remote sensing scientists and technologists also need good written and oral communication skills.
Experienced scientists may advance to jobs that require higher levels of skill and competency. This includes jobs in research, administration, and environmental planning. You usually need several years of experience and at least a master's degree to advance.
Technologists usually begin performing more basic tasks and advance through experience. Those with aptitude and leadership ability may move into lead technologist or supervisory roles. They typically must gain at least a bachelor’s degree to move into more advanced positions.
Sources of Information
Available on the Internet
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LMI Innovation Grant, Research and Statistics Office, Department of Labor &
Industrial Relations, State of Hawaii. All Rights Reserved.