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Geographic Information Systems Technician

Get equipped with the skills required to be work-ready as a GIS Technician.

A woman looks at a map on her tablet computer while standing outside Halifax's city hall.
Start Date:
Typical Length:
1 Year

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Throughout this hands-on program, you use your curiosity, creativity and computer skills to solve real world geospatial problems. This program has a strong emphasis on collecting, managing, processing and presenting geospatial data using industry-leading software and tools:

  • Desktop, mobile, open source and web GIS
  • Computer-aided drafting (CAD)
  • Global positioning systems (GPS)
  • Remote sensing
  • Models and scripts
  • Databases

This program is offered at the Centre of Geographic Sciences (COGS), Canada's largest geomatics-focused learning environment, and prepares you for a career in the global geomatics sector.

Work experience

  • Field experience is a mandatory credit course, providing you with the opportunity to apply your knowledge and skills outside of the classroom.
    • Opportunities are typically unpaid and last approximately 5 weeks.
  • This program is eligible for an optional cooperative education (co-op) credit course between year one and two.
    • Co-op provides an opportunity for paid, full-time employment in a field related to your program.
    • Co-op takes place in third term and must be a minimum of 12 weeks and 420 hours.
    • Our co-op program follows Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning Canada (CEWIL) guidelines.
  • Transportation, accommodations and other costs related to work experience are your responsibility.
  • For more information, visit work experience opportunities.

Choose NSCC

  • NSCC's Centre of Geographic Sciences (COGS) provides a focused approach to geomatics training. COGS has earned a strong reputation among employers and geomatics professionals for the quality of the programs, hands-on training and practical learning provided to students.
  • You learn in an environment that is dedicated to geomatics training, working alongside other students studying related disciplines.
  • Small class sizes provide you with lots of opportunities for one-on-one interaction and support.
  • You use the most up-to-date equipment and software and get the hands-on training that makes COGS grads the preferred choice of employers.

Other info

  • Important abilities and skills – Coursework or experience in geographic science, as well as good computer skills (computer terminology, file management, internet and office applications), are recommended to be successful in this program.
  • Many employers in this industry require a current, official criminal record check as part of the hiring process. A conviction on your criminal record may impact your ability to secure employment.
  • If interested in the Canadian Armed Forces Non-Commissioned Member Subsidized Education Plan, you need to apply to the military. If accepted, your tuition fees, books and academic equipment will be paid by the military, in addition to receiving a salary and benefits while attending NSCC.

September 2024

Campus Full time/part time Delivery Availability
Annapolis Valley Campus/Online
Classes at COGS
Full time Blended
Delivered through a combination of online and in-person classes. At least 50% of learning is in-person.
Seats available

Admission requirements

Program requirements

  • Portfolio development – As part of your studies at NSCC, you develop a portfolio of your work; the portfolio captures your achievements and profiles your skills to employers.


Tuition amounts are for the 2024-25 academic year. Program costs and fees (textbooks, supplies, etc.) are additional.

Tuition (Domestic):
Tuition (International):

Tuition, fees and program costs

In addition to annual tuition, there are program costs (books, tools, etc.) and student fees for College services, health and dental plans, your student association and parking.

View detailed program fees page(s). Please note that amounts on these pages are meant for planning purposes only. They don't represent final amounts owing.

Career options

  • Graduates are prepared to enter a rapidly growing industry. Job titles include:
    • GIS technician
    • Mapping technician
    • Computer-aided design (CAD) technician
    • Geomatics technician
    • GIS technologist
    • Remote sensing technician
    • Cartographic technician

Future study options

Courses may include

These are some of the courses offered in this program. It is not a complete list and courses are subject to change in advance of the academic year.

Recognizing prior learning / transfer credits
If you have previous learning (course, employment, etc...) that's relevant to your program, you may be able to apply to earn credit. Not all programs are eligible. Learn about our recognizing prior learning (RPL) process.

COMM 2008 - Communication and Portfolio Development
In the geographic sciences field, interpersonal relationships in both the working environment and in the client/ provider relationship benefit from effective and efficient communications strategies. This course introduces students to concepts of effective communication in a technical environment and particularly to working effectively in teams. It introduces the concept of portfolio and shows how effective it can be in professional development and career planning. Students also develop skills in resume writing, job search skills, and both written and oral presentation.

COMP 1030 - Introduction to Computer Applications and Databases
This course exposes students to a variety of supportive software applications and an introduction to relational databases. This includes working with file management tools, utilities, using office software with particular emphasis on spreadsheets and databases. Emphasis is placed on the implementation of these tools to create and manipulate spatial and non-spatial data at an introductory level.

GIST 1000 - Geographic Information Systems I
This course introduces students to concepts related to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and spatial data. The course provides students with the skills required to acquire, assemble, prepare and manage GIS data using modern, industry standard software packages. Geographic related questions are answered, and results presented using a variety of methods.

GIST 1006 - Geodesy and Data Acquisition
This course exposes students to basic concepts of geodesy and global navigation satellite systems. Students are introduced to map projections, ellipsoids, datums, and datum transformations. In addition, students explore the theory required to plan, acquire, and process GNSS acquired data for applications such as land use mapping, civic addressing and asset mapping. Students also investigate the issues associated with handling the data.

GIST 1007 - Terrain Analysis
This course draws upon a natural history approach to explore the environment. It provides both a general overview of landforms and topics related to the local environment, and a framework in which natural resources can be understood, managed and interpreted. It also introduces a basic environmental engineering perspective to assist students in evaluating terrain with respect to development suitability. As students study ecology and the basic elements of our environment such as geology, soils, climate, vegetation and hydrology they are introduced to a range of contemporary environmental issues.

GIST 1008 - Introduction to Remote Sensing
This introductory course provides fundamental theory and skills of Earth Observation Systems. Students explore the principles of image acquisition from airborne and space-borne sensors. Topics include the characteristics of the electromagnetic spectrum, interpretation and applications of remotely sensed data. Fundamental photogrammetry concepts are also introduced.

GIST 1009 - Introduction to Mapping
This course covers basic topics in use, interpretation, analysis and cartographic design concepts of maps. Before learners can create meaningful maps they must have a grasp of the fundamentals of map components, use, and analysis. These include issues related to interpretation, types of data and their impacts. Hands on activities provide students with vital experience in basic map interpretation. The relationship between qualitative and quantitative data types, layouts, typography and use of appropriate map symbology is explored.

GIST 1010 - Web GIS
This course is designed to provide students with hands-on experiences in the use of Web based Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Students explore how to use Web GIS Services to geoprocess, manage and present web-based data. Students use these tools to share results online.

GIST 2000 - Geographic Information Systems II
Building on the concepts learned in GIST 1000, students construct an information system using various data types in modern, industry standard software. Major components of a GIS, the functionality of these components, and the interrelationship between GIS and other sciences and technologies are explored. Spatial analysis is performed to answer basic geographic related questions and present results in a meaningful way.

GIST 2001 - Open Source GIS
This course provides students with an opportunity to investigate a range of free, open-source technologies for desktop and web-based mapping and data analysis. The course examines open-source mapping technology, interoperability and open standards as well as issues associated with open-source geospatial software solutions.

GIST 2002 - Mobile GIS
This course exposes students to the process of developing mobile Geographic Information Systems (GIS) projects. It examines all the steps involved from the planning phase right through to the project deployment. Students gain practical experience at modifying existing data, maps, and GIS workflows to the mobile environment.

GIST 2005 - Geoprocessing and Problem Solving
This course introduces students to a scripting language and shows how scripting can be used to access and automate geoprocessing functionality within a Geographic Information System (GIS). Students are exposed to scripting syntax, write simple scripts to automate geoprocessing operations, and learn how to incorporate scripts to solve real world problems.

GIST 2006 - Environmental Analysis Studio
The course provides a foundation for evaluating environmental factors using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) skills. Students participate in a team-oriented planning study of a local watershed. Environmental issues and concepts are presented, but the course is primarily practical in nature, as students prepare new maps and present them for discussion and analysis in a seminar. Emphasis is placed on the balance between social, environmental, and economic considerations as sustainable development is pursued within the context of community values.

GIST 2007 - Introduction to CAD
Students become familiar with the tools of computer-aided drafting (CAD) software to create accurate and spatially correct vector data. Scale and output to plotting/printing devices are covered.

GIST 2021 - Field Placement
This course allows students to synthesize the skills and knowledge acquired in the program through a field placement with an industry partner. Throughout the course, students make connections with industry and gain valuable experience to include in their resume and portfolio. Students also reflect on their own learning and consider how this experience can influence and support their overall career goals.

GIST 2022 - Capstone
This course allows students to synthesize the skills and knowledge acquired in the program by completing a capstone project. Working in a team, students use industry standard tools to complete a specific project with an industry partner or community organization as their client.

GIST 2023 - Applied Learning
This course allows students to synthesize the skills and knowledge acquired in the program by completing an applied project. Working in a team, students use industry standard tools to complete a specific project with a simulated industry partner or community organization as their client.

GIST 2996 - Co-operative Education
Co-operative Education provides students who are returning to study immediately after the work term with an opportunity for paid employment. Employers, as co-educators, allow students to deepen and further their learning by applying it in a relevant workplace setting. Co-op work terms also give students the chance to make connections with industry partners and gain valuable experience to include in their resume and portfolio.

SAFE 1000 - Introduction to WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information Systems)
This course offers learners basic overview of WHMIS principles and establishes a solid foundation to support workplace-specific training on the safe storage and handling of controlled/hazardous products. Upon successful completion of the course, students receive basic WHMIS certification.

SAFE 1001 - Introduction to NS OH&S Act
This course offers students an introduction to the Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) Act of Nova Scotia, which is required by any person employed in a Nova Scotia workplace. This is a generic, introductory course that provides basic knowledge of the Act for students and is considered to be the basis from which more specific training can be given.

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