The committee’s best estimate of the current number of experts (Table 4.1), which is considerably lower than the total number of graduates, does not lend itself to extrapolation because the numbers are difficult to aggregate and previous growth rates cannot be estimated with any certainty. However, based on the evolution of the core and emerging areas (Chapters 2 and 3), it is likely that the number of graduates in cartography and photogrammetry will decline and that the number of graduates in other areas, especially the emerging areas, will grow over the next 20 years. Thus, although the exact number cannot be projected with high confidence, it is likely that the supply of graduates in all geospatial intelligence-related fields of study except photogrammetry and cartography will be robust for the next 20 years.


The first task of the committee was to estimate the number of experts in the core and emerging areas now and over the next 20 years. The primary sources of expertise are new graduates in relevant fields of study, which are tracked by the Department of Education, and employees working in occupations that require relevant knowledge and skills, which are tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Unfortunately these data are not ideal for addressing the task because the core and emerging areas are embedded within or span multiple fields of study or occupations; 109 fields of study and 36 occupations potentially provide some knowledge and skills relevant to a core or emerging area.

An “upper bound” on the number of experts was determined by summing the number of new graduates from all relevant fields of study and the number of workers from all relevant occupations. This calculation showed that there were more than 229,000 degrees conferred in the 109 instructional programs in 2009 and more than 2.7 million jobs in the 36 occupations in 2010, the latest years for which data were available when the report was being written. NGA’s requirement for U.S. citizenship decreases the size of the labor pool by 7 percent for new graduates, with the largest reductions at the doctorate level, and by 12 percent for experienced workers, with the largest reductions in physical science and computer occupations. Accounting for U.S. citizenship reduces the estimate to more than 200,000 new graduates in relevant instructional program in 2009 and more than 2.4 million jobs in relevant occupations. These graduates and experienced workers likely have some knowledge and skills in a core or emerging area and could potentially be trained for an NGA position.

The actual number of graduates with expertise in a core or emerging area is likely considerably lower than the “upper-bound” estimates, especially for the emerging areas, which are taught as comprehensive programs in only a handful of universities. Factoring in other information—including the number of universities offering programs in a core or emerging area, the size of the professional community, and the number of graduates from instructional programs that produce the bulk of necessary skills—allows a qualitative estimate to be made based on expert judgment. The committee’s best estimate is that the current number of new graduates in geospatial intelligence areas is likely on the order of tens for photogrammetry; tens to hundreds for GEOINT fusion, crowdsourcing, human geography, and visual analytics; hundreds for geodesy, geophysics, and cartographic science; hundreds to thousands for remote sensing and forecasting; and thousands for GIS and geospatial analysis.

Insufficient information was available to refine the number of experienced workers. A “lower bound” was estimated by summing the number of jobs in the four most closely related occupations: cartographers and photogrammetrists; surveying and mapping technicians; geographers; and geoscientists, except hydrologists and geographers. For these four occupations, there were nearly 100,000 jobs in 2010.

Estimates of the future availability of experts are subject to large uncertainties, so the committee simply extrapolated past trends of the number of new graduates with relevant degrees. Extrapolation of 10-year trends under high-growth and low-growth scenarios suggests that 312,000–648,000 degrees in relevant fields of study will be conferred to U.S. citizens and permanent residents in 2030. These figures place an “upper bound” on the future number of graduates in geospatial intelligence-related fields of study. The committee’s best estimate of the current number of graduates with skills and knowledge in core and emerging areas is qualitative and could not be projected with confidence. However, it is substantially lower than the

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