Geomatics Technician

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Job description

Geomatics Technicians collect geospatial data using imagery and Global Positioning System devices and survey equipment. They capture, analyze, process, present, disseminate and manage this data to support the operations of the Navy, the Army and the Air Force.

Geomatics Technicians are members of the Military Engineering Branch of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). Their primary responsibilities are to:

  • Collect geospatial data satellite, aerial and photo imagery, Global Positioning System devices and survey equipment
  • Manage and fuse digital geospatial data and products from a wide range of sources
  • Produce digital and hard-copy maps, charts, three-dimensional visualizations and other geospatial products to help military leaders understand and move in the battle space
  • Generate and reproduce digital geospatial products
  • Distribute geospatial products from the CAF Map Depot to units in garrison and on operations
  • Provide expert geomatics advice and liaison to CAF personnel at all levels of command




WIGGINS: When Canadian lives are at stake in one of the most rugged regions on earth, you’d better know the lay of the land – out here, the last thing you want to do is get lost.

ALEXANDER: We are experts who plot the battle space for Canada’s commanders and fighting forces – the masters of the Terrain called Geomatics Technicians.

I’m Warrant Officer Mike Wiggins originally from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. I’m a Geomatics Technician currently employed at National Defence Headquarters.

And I’m Private Brandy Alexander from Kamloops, British Columbia. I’m a Geomatics Technician. I’m currently training at Algonquin College.




WIGGINS: Geomatics Technicians are members of the Military Engineering Branch whose task is to capture, store, process, disseminate and manage geospatial information. We use high tech tools ranging from advanced GIS software to satellite imagery to help our soldiers, sailors and air crews find their way.

ALEXANDER: When soldiers head out on a mission, they don’t just pick up a rifle and start walking. It takes knowledge and information to succeed in the modern battle space – and that’s where we come in.

WIGGINS: Our equipment and capabilities generate the most accurate geospatial renderings available anywhere.

The basis of mapmaking is survey and photogrammetry. So what we do is we deploy soldiers to the field where they survey points on the ground. Those points are then correlated to photos taken from an aircraft. We tie them together to create a very accurate photomap. That photomap is then used to make the maps that we as soldiers use in the field.

Geo Techs are primarily employed at the Mapping and Charting Establishment in Ottawa; however, we are embedded in every major headquarters across Canada. You get to work with the Army, the Navy and the Air Force in all phases of operations.

ALEXANDER: We are the eyes of the commanders before they ever see the battle space. We can give them a 3-D elevation model that shows every hill, every stream and every building and road.

WIGGINS: I bring a new set of eyes. I’m bringing information that commanders don’t necessarily have at the top of their head or at the tip of their fingers. When a sniper commander comes in and he needs to go on a mission in one hour, the Geo Tech can give him the quick and dirty device, a mapping product and have him out the door in time to deploy on his mission.

ALEXANDER: It’s a great way to get outdoors, serve Canada and learn a trade with real value outside the Forces as well.

You don’t master a trade this complex in just a few days. Becoming a Geomatics Technician means more than a year of classroom and on-the-job training. You’ll need top-notch computer skills, great visual awareness and a passion for detail.

WIGGINS: Like every new member of the Forces, you’ll start with your basic military training. Then you’ll spend 20 months on the campus of Algonquin College in Ottawa, studying with the best instructors from the college and the Army’s School of Military Mapping.

ALEXANDER: We started off with the basic map fundamental course, how to read maps, how to use maps, interpret them and then also a basic remote-sensing and satellite imagery course and also a physical geography course. And then from there, you move on to the next semester and you’re kicking it up a notch just learning a little bit more and getting more in-depth into different scenarios.

Two major benefits, I’d have to say is you’re gonna get a recognized college diploma from Algonquin College which is a great facility and second of all, you get paid to be here, so it’s definitely a nice aspect of the trade.

WIGGINS: When your classroom work is completed, you’ll start your military career as a Geomatics Technician – going on field surveys and exercises and working on real-world mapping and spatial analysis until you’re ready for your first deployment.

ALEXANDER: That could mean being embedded with a mechanized brigade group in Alberta, Quebec or Ontario or being assigned to the 1st Canadian Air Division Headquarters in Winnipeg or Maritime Headquarters in Halifax or Esquimalt.

Everywhere the Canadian Forces go, Geo Techs go with them.

WIGGINS: I’ve already been deployed twice to Bosnia and once to Afghanistan, plus four different postings in Canada and one of the most gratifying things is to see how much the commanders want the information that we can give them.

There’s no military operation, nothing done without a map. When a soldier needs to go from point A to point B, he uses a map. Or he uses a GPS device.

ALEXANDER: If you’re interested in maps, definitely if you’re interested in problem-solving and challenging yourself - it requires a lot of thought and patience, but it also is very rewarding.

WIGGINS: I enjoy most being somebody that can be relied upon, that works in a small team atmosphere, that brings a capability to the table.

ALEXANDER: For us, it’s a pretty demanding and exciting job.





Working environment

Geomatics Technicians are members of the Army, but they may be called upon to support all CAF exercises and operations, including those lead by the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force. Most work at a base or station is done in an office environment in a major headquarters within Canada, using high-tech computer workstations and software designed for geomatics. Geomatics Technicians are also employed aboard ships, on survey duties, and in Army units that train in the field and deploy on operations. Over the course of their career they may be offered international postings, including exchanges with the United States Army.

Pay and career development

The starting salary for a fully trained Geomatics Technician is $67,500 per year; however, depending on previous experience and training the starting salary may be higher. Geomatics Technicians who demonstrate the required ability, dedication and potential are selected for opportunities for career progression, promotion and advanced training.

Related civilian occupations

  • Geographic Information System Technician
  • Geodetic Surveyor
  • Cartographer
  • Photogrammetrist

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Basic military qualification

The first stage of training is the Basic Military Qualification course, or Basic Training, held at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. This training provides the basic core skills and knowledge common to all trades. A goal of this course is to ensure that all recruits maintain the CAF physical fitness standard; as a result, the training is physically demanding.

Basic military qualification – land course

After Basic Training, Army recruits go to a Military Training centre for the Basic Military Qualification – Land Course for approximately one month, which covers the following topics:

  • Army Physical Fitness
  • Dismounted Offensive and Defensive Operations
  • Reconnaissance Patrolling
  • Individual Field Craft

Basic occupational qualification training

Geomatics Technicians attend the School of Military Mapping at Algonquin College, which is a detachment of the Mapping and Charting Establishment in Ottawa, Ontario. You will receive instruction from civilian and military instructors on the following topics:

Battle space analysis and visualization products

  • Mathematics and survey
  • Photogrammetry
  • Remote sensing software and data
  • Geographic information systems and data
  • Production of geospatial data
  • Navigation systems
  • Geomatics product reproduction process
  • Computer hardware and software
  • Geomatics product distribution process

Specialty training

Geomatics Technicians may be offered the opportunity to develop specialized skills through formal courses and on-the-job training, including:

  • Geodetic terrestrial and aerial survey training
  • Geospatial database management
  • Advanced geomatics applications
  • Advanced terrain analysis
  • Geomatics engineering diploma

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Entry plans

Now hiring: we are now accepting applications for this job through direct entry.

Required education

The minimum required education to apply for this occupation is the completion of the provincial requirements for Grade 11 with a minimum of 75 percent in College Preparatory Math (Grade 12) or Secondaire IV having a minimum of 75 percent in College Preparatory Math (Secondaire V) in Quebec.

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Part-time option

This occupation is available part-time within the following environment: Army

Serve with the Reserve Force

This position is available for part-time employment with the Primary Reserve at certain locations across Canada. Reserve Force members usually serve part time at an Air Force Wing in their community, and may serve while going to school or working at a civilian job. They are paid during their training. They are not posted or required to do a military move. However, they can volunteer to move to another base. They may also volunteer for deployment on a military mission within or outside Canada.

Part-time employment

Geomatics Technicians serve with the Canadian Army. They are employed collecting, analyzing and managing geospatial data to support CAF operations. Geomatics technicians employed on a part-time or casual full-time basis usually serve at military locations within Canada.

Reserve Force training

Reserve Force members are trained to the same level as their Regular Force counterparts. They usually begin training with their home unit to ensure that they meet the required basic professional military standards. Following basic military training, the home unit will arrange for additional training for specialized skills. Training for Geomatics Technicians is conducted at the School of Military Mapping at Algonquin College, in Ottawa, Ontario.

Working environment

Reserve Force members usually serve part-time with their home unit for scheduled evenings and weekends, although they may also serve in full-time positions at some units for fixed terms, depending on the type of work that they do. They are paid 85 percent of Regular Force rates of pay, receive a reasonable benefits package and may qualify to contribute to a pension plan.

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