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A job as a remote sensing technician is a military position that involves collecting intelligence on ally and enemy operations in dangerous and inaccessible areas. This position is a part of the military intelligence branch of the military. This information is gathered from satellites and high altitude airplanes. The art of this information is that it would otherwise be inaccessible were it not for advancements in technology. Most of the areas that data is collected for are dangerous or obscure. Remote sensing specialists work to help scientists in divisions like military planning and incorporate mapmaking and cartography skills in order to evaluate the data that they collect.
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A technician deals mostly with data collection and interpretation. Sometimes, the data collected will need to be manipulated using image processing programs before they can be accurately interpreted. Technicians must also make sure that the equipment is calibrated appropriately in order to collect good data. Specialists work with technologies such as aerial photography, light and radio wave detection, satellites, thermal energy systems, infrared imagers, and spectrographs. Software used in this occupation include map creation software, analytical software, and design software.
Teams usually work together and discuss project goals and collect information. Teams are also constantly trying to design new ways to present the data they collect efficiently and clearly, as their audience consists mostly of superiors who do not understand the technology and equipment that they work with. They may also be dispatched occasionally to collect data in the field when needed. Technicians also direct all activities related to remote sensing, and may briefly train other teammates on how to use certain equipment. All operations are usually overseen by a remote sensing scientist or a remote sensing analyst.
This is a typical military position, and therefore is subject to the same terms of becoming an enrolled member. An enlistment contract must be signed, which outlines a commitment to the forces for a certain number of years, as well as an acceptance of the military lifestyle. Members will be away from family, friends, and home for extended lengths of time, with the exceptions of vacation and leave. Included in this agreement is access to multiple military benefits.
Becoming a technician requires post-secondary education. The minimum education requirement for this position is a bachelor’s degree, although most technicians will pursue a graduate degree of some sort. Typically these degrees are in areas such as geography, cartography, civil engineering, natural sciences, and other related courses. During their studies, technicians will encounter courses in remote sensing and mapping that are directly related to this field. In some cases, technicians are able to specialize in remote sensing during their studies. These areas can be studied at any four-year institution. In addition, technicians will also have to attend seminars, conferences, and meetings whenever possible in order to stay up to date with technological advances and better researching methods.
Unlike other military positions, there is not a lot of on-the-job training for this position. Candidates will be expected to have a clear grasp of the expectations but may undergo traditional basic training for around two months, just like other enrolled members.
Communication skills are required in order to effectively work in a team environment while collecting data. Technicians must also be reliable, persistent, and ready for a challenge. Being able to pay close attention to detail is beneficial in this position. Work in this field often involves many hours in front of the computer collecting data, so being able to concentrate for long periods of time is important. Overall, technical skills and interest in technology and computer sciences will help in this position, as it involves extensive research using tools and the most recent technologies.
Although not required, it helps to have an interest in math, statistics, computer science, physics, chemistry, mechanical drawing, or art, as these fields are very relevant to this career path. All of these subjects can also be studied at any two- or four-year post-secondary institution, and even in high school. These courses may prove beneficial for those seeking to advance to leadership ranks.
Most military remote sensors are located abroad. They work indoors in high security locations in order to collect information without being detected by enemy forces. The workplace of a sensing technician is typically a clean office environment. There are long hours in front of the computer. Working hours fall within the guidelines of typical office hours, but extended hours and weekends are common. This can be a stressful environment because the data that is being handled is top priority and very secure. Personnel must abide by military rules at all times.
Outside of the military, technicians can find positions at science labs and companies doing very similar work.