Remote sensers now employable

A research area could be said to have come of age when those who have participated find that they can get a job.  Gone are the days when vast experience in field mapping, skills with mass spectrometers and even encyclopaedic knowledge of tiny fossil remains ensured more than a cursory reading of your CV by potential employers.  In the 32 years since the first availability of Landsat data there has been a big shift in the employment prospects of young geoscientists.  The dominant trend has been into the broad field of environmental geology.  A review of demand for people with skills in Earth observation (Gewin, V. 2004.  Mapping opportunities.  Nature, v. 427, p. 376-377) shows that recent geopolitical and economic shifts have demonstrated their value in helping decision makers to decide.  The prospects are patchy, however.  The USA, beset by homeland security and with vast areas mapped at only a superficial level, has a thriving Earth observation jobs market, but Europe lags behind, because of better charting of its land.  To a large extent dramatic improvements in spatial and spectral resolution of remotely sensed data in the last 5 years have matched technology to a big range of applications, hence the upturn.  Many of the jobs are in governmental agencies, and are not directly related to geological skills.  That is a shame, because Earth is less well mapped than the Moon and Mars.  Yet, skills and ingenuity that you would learn in addressing purely geological challenges through remote sensing can easily be transferred to any other field.

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