What does a Photogrammetrist do?


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A photogrammetrist specializes in using satellite images, aerial photographs, light imaging detection, and ranging technology to build models of the Earth’s surface and it’s features in order to create maps. They compile and analyze spatial data like distance and elevation.

How to Become a Photogrammetrist


A photogrammetrist typically holds a bachelor’s degree in geomatics, cartography, geography, or surveying. Less common are those with a bachelor’s degree in forestry, computer science, or engineering. They must be familiar with the software and tools used for image processing, light imaging detection, and remote sensing and ranging (LIDAR) technology. A photogrammetrist may be required to be licensed as a surveyor. However, each state may vary and all would require a minimum of a high school diploma and passing a test.

You can also become certified from the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) but must meet the required education and experience along with passing an exam. This certification would be advantageous for employment opportunities as it demonstrates competence, although this certification is not a requirement. It is also helpful to have an internship while in school. High school students aspiring to this career field should take classes in algebra, trigonometry, geometry, computer science, and drafting.

Job Description of a Photogrammetrist

Photogrammetrists provide satellite and aerial surveys of locations to create base maps that provides geographic information systems (GIS) data to be layered on top. He or she may also use (LIDAR) technology. These systems use lasers attached to cars or planes to digitally map the topography of the earth and even the location and density of forest canopies. Certain jobs may require extensive travel to locations that are in the process of being mapped.

Photogrammetrist Career Video Transcript

Photogrammetry is a technique by which you can make measurements from photographs. Why use photogrammetry to study volcanic eruptions? We use equipment like this that is very standard, just a handheld digital camera and fly in an airplane or helicopter, we take snapshots that look like this from all around the volcano and fly in an airplane or helicopter, we take snapshots that look like this from all around the volcano. We put these into a computer software program and add a bunch of points to represent the surface of the dome. Those points get tied together to make a digital model that looks like this of the volcano.

With traditional photogrammetry we had to contract an aerial flight service send out the negatives to be scanned at high resolutions and then a different lab would actually make our digital elevation models but now just equipped with a standard digital camera, we can produce the same results within a matter of hours.

During the 2009 eruption of Redoubt volcano in Alaska we would fly out there with a fixed-wing airplane or helicopter and equipped with a digital camera, just a standard one, take snapshots of the lava dome as we fly around it and then I would take those images put them into a sophisticated software program, and build a digital elevation model of the lava dome and we found, over a three month period, that the lava dome grew to the size of 72,000,000 cubic meters and on average, the growth rate was equivalent to one dump truck per second.

Photogrammetry provides the fundamental metrics of an eruption, the size, and how fast it’s growing. When we use that with other data, like seismicity, and gas emissions, and thermal output we can better understand the volcano as a whole and that helps us provide better forecasts for what may happen next and that also gets tied into hazards, potential hazards that may occur.

Article Citations

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Cartographers and Photogrammetrists.

National Center for O*NET Development. 17-1021.00. O*NET OnLine.

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