The success of recruitment during the years following the September 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., led to a bimodal age distribution of NGA scientists and analysts. Compared to other federal agencies, NGA has a relatively young workforce, with only a small fraction of scientists and analysts over 60 years old If current staff retrre at age 65, the fi rst major round of retirements will begin by the end of the decade.
More than half of geospatial intelligence analyst positions at NGA specify degrees or coursework in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), geospatial analysis, geography, or geographic information science (Table B.1, Appendix B). Approximately 189 universities offer relevant degrees, and hundreds of community colleges offer relevant courses (Table A.5, Appendix A). In 2009, 5,404 U.S. citizens and permanent residents received a degree in geography, the instructional program that produces the bulk of expertise in GIS and geospatial analysis (Table C.10, Appendix C). The number of geography graduates far exceeds the number of geography jobs nationwide (1,300 jobs in 2010; see Table D.2, Appendix D) and the field is growing, suggesting that the supply of geographers will be sufficient for NGA’s needs over the next 20 years. On the other hand, GIS applications analysts are in high demand by the private sector, with qualified candidates difficult to find (Mondello et al., 2004, 2008; Solem et al., 2008). Given that the NGA College offers reasonably comprehensive coursework in GIS operations (Box 5.2), it is possible that competition from private companies is already making it difficult to find qualified experts in GIS applications and techniques.
Expertise in remote sensing is also important to NGA: remote sensing appears in the education requirements for nearly half of NGA scientist and analyst occupations (Table B.1, Appendix B), and a few thousand NGA scientists and analysts work on imagery analysis. The supply of remote sensing graduates is likely on the order of hundreds to thousands (Table 4.1). The supply of experienced workers in the most closely related occupation (physical scientists, all others) is 24,690 (Table D.2, Appendix D). Although the supply exceeds the number of NGA positions, the NGA College places heavy emphasis on remote sensing (Box 5.2), suggesting that extensive on-the-job training is already necessary for remote sensing and imagery analysis positions.
Compared to GIS and remote sensing, a relatively small number of NGA positions require specialized knowledge in cartography, geodesy and geophysics, or photogrammetry. A bachelor’s degree in cartography or at least 30 semester hours of cartography coursework is required for NGA analyst positions in cartography and photogrammetry (Table B.1, Appendix B). Only 155 U.S. citizens or permanent residents obtained a degree in cartography in 2009 (Tables C.6 and C.10, Appendix C), but there is a large supply of cartography and photogrammetry professionals (11,670), working mainly in the private sector (Table D.2, Appendix D). The NGA College offers minimal training in cartography (Box 5.2), suggesting that NGA is currently able to find enough qualified candidates. However, the agency is likely to face a shortage (i.e., numbers are too small to give NGA choices or means of meeting sudden demand) in the near future. Employer surveys have identified cartographers as among the most difficult positions to fill (Mondello et al., 2004, 2008; Solem et al., 2008). Moreover, cartography appears to be losing its identity as an academic discipline. Fewer colleges and universities offer degrees or certificates in cartography, and more students are choosing instead to pursue a specialization in geographic information science, remote sensing, or spatial analysis (see Chapter 2).
The situation is worse for photogrammetry, which has nearly disappeared as a field of study in academia. Only 15 universities offer photogrammetry classes (Table A.2, Appendix A), and only 26 U.S. citizens or permanent residents obtained a degree in a closely related field (surveying engineering) in 2009 (Table C.10, Appendix C). A degree in photogrammetry is not required for any NGA position, but coursework in photogrammetry is identified as useful for several occupations, including those related to photogrammetry, cartography, geodesy, and data collection,