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GIS, Ecology, and Biology

updated 6/17/10

This is where my academic interests have been since college. First came biology, then ecology, and then geographic information systems (GIS). I am very much a science and research-oriented person; as long as I am doing something that involves research in a life or physical science field, I am happy. However, I also like working with computers, so GIS is a good way to do both.

My Ideal Job in this Field

I wish I had a better concept of my ideal job. Instead, I have a set of approximations of what would be a good job for me.

  • The topic of study has to be either ecological, environmental, biological, or physical in some way. Public health fits this category; so does environmental assessment. Ideally, though, the topic will be something of natural, environmental significance.
  • There must be some spatial element to the topic of study, ideally some form of geographic data requiring GIS analysis but it is not necessary.

With this job market being so bad, I'm not so sure if I will find a suitable job any time soon. So perhaps it is time to go back to school. I am not prepared to move (the real estate market is bad too, so no chance of selling any time soon)...otherwise I might actually have an easier time of finding a job in my field of expertise. Thus, any school I go to has to be nearby, affordable, and offer coursework that complements my existing skillset somehow.

School Options

Ph.D in Forestry (NC State) - concentrations in Conservation & Restoration, Environmental Impact Assessment, Forest Ecology & Management, and Geographic Information Science are available. The downside would be that I would be in the program for perhaps 3-5 years, earning a stipend that would be no more than $16,000 unless I went to school part-time, in which case my Ph.D would take even longer.

Master of Geographic Information Science and Technology (NC State) - an entirely online program that would cost about $7000 for 2 years

Something different - If I can't find a job in my field, then I will have to consider a career change. It will be disappointing to not be able to use all the skills I've acquired over the past 10 years of college, grad school, and time in between, but then that's life. If the flow changes, I must go with it. I will try to hold out as long as I can though.


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