Allan Jacobs is a graduate of the GIS program at Okanagan College who now works in Guyana for Stratagold

GIS graduates have a choice

Okanagan College certificate program offered in Vernon, Geographical Information Systems

Geographical Information Systems (GIS) are being used increasingly in all areas of life to help understand and manage man-made and natural processes.

“GIS assigns information to physical features and locations with the information analysis done by computers and used to find patterns, help systems work efficiently and make predictions about trends to assist with immediate and long-term planning,” said Nolan Clark, who has been the instructor of the GIS certificate program at the Salmon Arm Campus of Okanagan College for the past six years.

With the increasing use of GIS in a variety of fields and more employment opportunities, the college is offering the five-month, full-time certificate program in Vernon for the first time starting in January. The requirements are high school graduation or equivalent, or mature student status, and basic computer skills.

“There are lots of jobs out there and students are getting jobs. People are coming from outside the area to take the course,” said Joanne Thompsen, associate director, continuing studies, Vernon campus, Okanagan College.

With GIS being used by health authorities, regional districts, wildlife managers, exploration companies and forestry and agriculture, GIS graduates have a wide choice of employment. Some take the program to add to existing qualifications to get jobs in their field of interest while others start with the certificate and then find the work they like.

Graduate Allan Jacobs presently works in Guyana for Stratagold, a Vancouver-based exploration and development company with projects around the world. Jolene Murphy works for Parks Canada and Ali Fraser is continuing her education to get a master’s degree in GIS.

“I learned so much and really enjoyed the program. They broke down all the topics and really gave us the skills we needed with the software,” she said.

Jesse Fraser had a geography degree and was looking for work when he took the GIS program. He now works at Accuas based in Victoria.

“We are an unmanned ariel surveying company. We fly drones that take pictures of the ground and I process the data,” he said.

Patty Bruce, program coordinator, Salmon Arm campus, Okanagan College said, “There are increasing employment opportunities in oil, gas, forestry and silvaculture and many other fields.”

Lisa Robert, program assistant, Okanagan College added, “For example, in 2010, there were 195 job openings in GIS in the Thompson-Okanagan and an estimated 170 qualified new job seekers, so it looks good.”

Clark is looking forward to teaching the program in Vernon.

“I love teaching this. It’s a relaxed environment but everyone is learning a lot,” he said.

Some of the many ways that GIS can be used that people might not think about are in vineyards to measure grape growth and adjust watering to temperature for maximum harvest; to monitor infrastructure and contact those affected in an emergency; help find the best pasture for cattle at any time of year; and to track shipping of all kinds.

The next GIS certificate program starts Jan. 9 at the Vernon campus. Registration is on now and space is limited.

For more information see Online application is at


Just Posted

Vernon Women’s Transition House changes name

Name changed to Archway Society for Domestic Peace to showcase all programs offered

Acclaimed sopranos to perform at Vernon Proms

Nancy Argenta and Ingrid Attrott will also provide a vocal masterclass in Vernon

PHOTOS: Dream Lottery features prize home in Vernon

A home located at Predator Ridge is one of eight grand prize packages

Award-winning Scout sews dog beds for Vernon SPCA

Abby Hemsing sewed over 75 dog beds and raised over $500 for community service

Indigenous teens learn empowerment through camp

“It’s really amazing to realize that you aren’t alone in this world so to have an all girl trip and to have empowerment with your peers is really special”

When walls talk: Vernon murals see generation II

“This new movement, an app, will bring the strength of some of those same Vernon visionaries together again into a newdigital form”

Body, burning truck found near northern B.C. town

RCMP unsure if the two separate discoveries are related

Survivorship Dragon Boat Team wins in Vernon

Team takes top spot in A division at festival

Kelowna car thief’s sentencing delayed

Stanley Nickason pled guilty car theft charges in B.C. Supreme Court

Development gives Kelowna community garden the boot

Glen Valley residents given a few days to break it down before land development

Couple found dead along northern B.C. highway in double homicide

Woman from the U.S. and man from Australia found dead near Liard Hot Springs

RDOS contributes funds to arts centre workshop

South Okanagan Performing Arts Centre Society wants input into proposed facility

Kelowna RCMP release video of reckless theft out of Southwest Mission

“Their tactics were anything but subtle,” states Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey

Summerland Fall Fair to include zucchini race

Event is in honour of bobsleigh athlete Justin Kripps

Most Read