A career in GIS can take you where you want to go. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology is used to manage and utilize geographic data, and is widely recognized as an essential tool in such diverse fields as forest management, urban planning, engineering, municipal management, business, and environmental studies.
The potential uses of GIS technology are almost too numerous to list, and are found everywhere – from local government to the United Nations, from volunteer organizations to global corporations, in the public and private sectors.
The Advanced Diploma program in Geographic Information Systems is designed for university or college graduates with a background in a related discipline or technology.
The curriculum combines theory and practice and covers GIS principles, training in GIS software, technical issues, remote sensing, digital mapping and management issues. Students must also successfully complete a supervised work experience before graduation. This may be either an industry project or an industry practicum.
Whether you are a recent university or college graduate getting started in a career, or an experienced professional seeking new employment opportunities or career advancement, we invite you to study our web pages to learn more about the GIS program at BCIT. With over 20 years of experience in delivering advanced GIS technology programs and courses, the GIS program has established an excellent reputation for producing highly skilled and sought-after graduates.
The GIS Department has compiled a list of frequently asked questions [PDF] to help you decide which BCIT GIS option is best for you.
NOTE: BCIT also offers a Bachelor of Technology Degree in GIS. Students enrolled in the Advanced Diploma can change to the Bachelor of Technology program early in the Fall semester if required. Once the student has committed to the Advanced Diploma and has graduated, they cannot take subsequent courses and apply for the Bachelor of Technology.
Missed an info session?
If you’ve missed a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) information session, the full video is now available. Note: This information session was held May 21, 2020 and topics discussed in this session are subject to change without notice.
Learning about GIS technology means learning a lot more than just GIS software.
Our program is built upon years of experience in delivering GIS education and training, and is designed to provide you with the skills and knowledge to work in the diverse and challenging GIS industry.
Our technology courses cover CAD, Remote Sensing, databases, computer programming, GIS algorithms, spatial analysis, and mapping. And of course, advanced courses in GIS software use and customization. You’ll see first hand how primary data capture is done, how data is processed, and gain skills in editing and managing GIS data.
In software courses, you’ll delve deeper, and gain extensive hands-on experience using industry standard software. Through the database courses, you’ll see the critical importance of data modelling and management.
Through computer and programming courses, you’ll learn about different ways to program and customize software for data handling and specialty applications, Web-mapping, web applications, and how these tie into current developments in GIS.
Management courses will introduce you to the IT (hardware, software, and networks), management and organization issues associated with GIS.
You’ll put all these pieces together as you pursue your GIS project or practicum. Through the project/practicum courses you’ll develop skills in planning and executing GIS applied research or gain real world work experience with a GIS employer.
You’ll hear guest speakers from industry, be involved in GIS conferences or the BCIT Open House, and be encouraged to get involved in BCIT activities and the local GIS community.
By the time you graduate, you’ll have all the necessary skills to pursue a career in GIS.
Through it all we’ll be encouraging you to develop the workplace skills essential for success – critical thinking, teamwork, problem solving, initiative, self-reliance and communications.
As a full-time student, you’ll be immersed in a highly structured and demanding environment for the duration of the program. Lectures and labs are offered Monday to Friday, from 8:30 to 17:30, except on Wednesdays when classes end at 14:30.
You’ll learn GIS in a number of ways – through lectures and hands-on labs, with integrated e-learning, independently and in teams, through demonstrations and research.
You’ll be one of 45 students accepted into the program. Like yourself, everyone has a university or college background, and many have work experience. Many disciplines and fields of study are represented, leading to a rich, dynamic and varied learning environment.
Your schedule will be busy, with 24-31 in-class hours per week, plus homework. Most classes consists of a lecture and a lab, with the entire class of 45 students attending the lecture. You’ll break out into smaller groups of 15 for the labs. In the computer labs, you’ll have your own computer workstation and access to industry standard software to complete the labs and assignments. You’ll have regular (usually weekly) applied assignments to complete for most courses, so it’s important to manage your time well and perform consistently throughout the school year.
Classes start in September and end in mid-April. From April on, you will spend all your time applying your newly gained GIS skills to your industry research project or workplace practicum. You’ll finish by the end of May or June, depending on the scheduling of your practicum.
- Develop GIS spatial and non-spatial databases which serve the needs of a specific organization or project, following international standards as necessary, for local, WAN, or web deployment.
- Develop new GIS systems and procedures for local, WAN, or web deployment, using COTS software, open source software, and custom programming.
- Use GIS technology, programming languages, and computer aided software engineering tools to design and program GIS and database applications, and customize other computer applications.
- To have detailed knowledge of how to use specialized GIS technology and analysis techniques to enter, display, update, and manipulate spatial information.
- Manage spatial information systems and assist in the development of Internet-based GIS and business applications on smart phones, tablets, and desktop computers.
- Compare and assess COTS and open source software, and hardware for their suitability in handling common GIS applications, and plan the acquisition of GIS technology for enterprise deployment.
- Integrate non-GIS external software or datasets (such as spreadsheets, databases, and statistical packages) with GIS desktop, web/cloud, and wireless applications.
- To review and respond to Requests for Proposals, conduct cost-benefit analysis, prepare budgets, and manage GIS project teams.
- Know how to follow problem solving methodologies to break down large tasks into manageable pieces following a logical order, and to think critically and solve spatially-oriented problems.
- Use educational technology and self-directed study to enhance professional currency.
- Have a broad understanding of infrastructure components of GIS, including networks, software, data portals, cloud storage, smartphone/tablets, and spatialized databases.
- Have a basic understanding of the techniques in primary data acquisition using CAD, softcopy photogrammetry, and surveying.
- Have a basic understanding of cartographic techniques and principles.
When you graduate from the program, you will have completed one of the best educations in GIS technology available anywhere and be ready for the workforce.
A career in GIS can open a lot of doors. Opportunities exist in all parts of the private and public sectors, and in all sorts of application areas.
The majority of GIS graduates are working for either private industry (forestry, GIS vendors, natural resource exploration, computer systems) consulting companies (environmental, engineering, forestry, mapping, scanning, and software) or government agencies (municipal, provincial, federal). The graduates are developing GIS databases, using GIS to analyze data and predict the result of planned changes, managing GIS projects, planning the acquisition of GIS technology, developing GIS custom systems and training GIS users.
GIS Faculty are dedicated, energetic and knowledgeable, and have both GIS industry experience and formal schooling. The Department also utilizes instructors from the BCIT Geomatics Department, as well as sessional instructors from industry.
The Geographic Information Systems program benefits from the combined expertise of educational and industry professionals who form our program Advisory Committee. Their valued input and liaison with BCIT have helped ensure the relevance and currency of the program. We would like to acknowledge their continuous support for the success of the program.
Mike Hill, Program Head/Faculty
Carmen Heaver, Part-time Studies Coordinator/Faculty
BSc, DiplT(GIS), MSc(GISc)
Rob Hewlett, Faculty
BSc, DiplT(GIS), MSc(CIS)
Kim Hopkins, Faculty
Josh MacDougall, Faculty
Chris Wright, Faculty
B. App. Tech GIS
TBA, Program Assistant
- N. Ali, CBRE Canada
- P. Bates, District of West Vancouver
- O. Blasig, GE Energy
- J. Clark, Spatial Vision Group
- M. Doherty, ESRI Canada Ltd.
- K. Hayne, City of Vancouver
- C. Huntington, City of Burnaby
- W. Johnstone, Spatial Vision Group Inc. (Chair)
- H. Lee, RCMP
- C. Lim, Acuere Consulting
- S. Mak, BC Centre for Disease Control
- J. Paillard, Stornoway Diamond Corp.
- G. Singh, Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources
- M. Stoakes, SAFE Software
- R. Taylor, Kerr Wood Leidal
- Application process
- Entrance requirements
- Applying for transfer credit and advanced placement
- Program costs
- Job placement and graduate outcomes
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