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What is the Role of a Geodesist?

written by: Darlene Zagata•edited by: Niki Fears•updated: 5/31/2009

There are many different types of careers that fall into the category of environmental science. Geodesy is one of those careers that is worth learning a little more about.

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    Geodesy is the scientific discipline that studies the size, shape and location of fixed points on the Earth. At one time, all work done in the field of geodesy was based on land surveys. Now, land surveys are done in conjunction with the use of satellites. The field of geodesy also includes the study of tides as well as crustal and polar motion. The field of geodesy developed from the human need to understand the world in which we live. As it was once believed that our world was flat, we now know much more about our planet through specialized fields such as geodesy.

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    What does a geodesist do?

    A geodesist measures the Earth's surface. He studies the science and shape of our planet as well as its gravitational field. A geodesist measures the size of Earth on a global scale and also specific regions of land known as fixed points. By doing so, crustal shifts and polar movement can be detected. Measurements can determine rate of movement and other pertinent information. A geodesist assigns 3 dimensional points on, above and below the surface of Earth to measure the average depths of oceans, mountain peaks and also abnormalities in the surface of Earth.

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    GPS stands for Global Positioning Systems and is a deviced use to help define a location and map it in relation to other spots on the planet. This is something that can be quite useful to geodeists who use GPS in their field of work. With the use of a GPS device, geodesists can locate the exact position of any object on the surface of Earth which gives them valuable information without the need to physically travel to locate or chart specific things.

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    Salary and Job Outlook

    Educational requirements for the field of geodesy require a four year degree. Entry level jobs in this field have an average earning potential of $45,000. An average salary for a land surveyor may be around $63,000. Salary may also vary according to experience and level of skill. The field of geodesy requires good analytical and mathematical skills but is a promising field for those who have an interest in surveying the Earth.

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