With the Hermes 900, Israeli unmanned aircraft systems are now on par with the US. This isn’t really surprising, since it was Israeli engineer Abraham Karem who designed the iconic Predator-series for General Atomics. 448 more words
Imagery Analysis, through my eyes: After searching for a new job in 2014 as an imagery analyst, it seems as if over the past few years the career field of an imagery analyst has become less in demand. At least this is what I’m noticing. A recent search of “Imagery Analyst” on Careerbuilder returned 43 jobs, none of which had “imagery” in the title. A search on Indeed had 534 results with only a handful being an “Imagery Analyst”, all of which were located in one of three primary places: Springfield, VA, Fort Bragg, NC, and Fayetteville, NC. Two other jobs were located in Shalimar, FL and in McLean, VA. I would love to branch into some other related jobs like all-source, intelligence analysis, open-source, counter-intelligence, targeting, GEOINT, etc. The problem is, when you’ve only got IMINT experience, other intelligence jobs treat you as if you’re incapable of doing anything else. This is what I’m noticing:
- If you just have imagery analyst skills, it is difficult to prove that you’re capable of doing all-source, targeting, etc. I have to really try to sell my skills and convince potential new employers that I can fill an all-source position, or take on some other intelligence position. Within the imagery career field, there’s no way to obtain new skill sets on your own. And you’re stuck in imagery because you can’t go anywhere else, at least there should be an opportunity to gain more sophisticated skills like certifications or advanced training, but there are not. If you’re federal, that may be different, but not on the contractor side.
- Most imagery jobs are low level. They all seem to have high-turnover rates. They all seem to require deploying and/or shift work (Now to some people this isn’t a bad thing, but when you become burned out and want to get off shift work but cannot because it’s all you qualify for, then it becomes depressing). Contracting companies are desperate to fill positions in these types of contracts, so many of them hire anyone that has a pulse and a security clearance. Example: My former company needed to hire more people, so they opened up the job to anyone who had any type of experience other than imagery analysis. This made me as an imagery analyst feel devalued, because at that point, my former specific imagery training didn’t matter anymore. You know your job is a joke when a company can just hire random people and give them two weeks of lousy training, then sit them next to you to do the same job. That wouldn’t happen with an engineer, doctor, systems analyst, or even help desk, because those jobs require a real skill that someone can’t just learn in two weeks.
- Most imagery jobs have no growth. Every contract feels like a lateral move, not a move up. If you look at some imagery analysts’ resumes, you’ll see people who’ve worked at 8-9 companies in a 10-year timespan. They get board from working these “high-turnover” no-growth contracts and move on to something else. Yeah you might work a new AOR or something, but you’ll have the same dead end skills like pulling imagery, using NES, annotating an image, etc. The so-called “analysis” that imagery analyst do are a joke. In every program I’ve worked, imagery analysts have never been at the forefront of making an important decision. We’ve pretty much done monotonous, routine work that commonly consists of:
- Filling up databases that no one is ever going to use
- Constant negative reporting of what we didn’t see instead of focusing on what we did see
- Reporting on old intelligence, just as busy work to ‘keep the low-level kids busy’
- Any attempt at making your standalone opinion matter is highly suppressed by forcing you to follow the 'rules'
- There is no unstructured thinking involved, which suppresses innovation; just following a list of rules is what you do
- Imagery skills don’t seem to be that much in demand. There’s no employer raving over my resume. My resume looks like every other imagery analyst resume out there. Same software. Same hard skills. Same soft skills. Fact is, the job requires very little hard skills. Some common soft skills are situational awareness, multi-tasking, customer service, etc. The main hard skill is analysis, and that’s only to a certain extent. On a daily basis, I use Microsoft Office to annotate images, or I might search a database to find an image or report. The thing is, the hard skills don’t seem to be impressive when trying to apply for jobs with more responsibility, because it’s doesn’t require much brain work. At least in the field of information technology for example, you can make yourself self-sufficient by joining professional organizations, gaining certifications, or practicing/learning new skills on your own PC at home. I’ve tried to look for new outlets as an imagery analyst to help distinguish myself from peers. I’ve found that to be difficult because none exist. There’s no employers asking for exclusive skills that only an imagery analyst would have. And no specific skills that would make an imagery analyst worth a high salary.
- Imagery jobs are in “un-sexy” locations. Really, there’s only 3-4 major places you could work as an imagery analyst. There’s some scattered everywhere but the overwhelming majority are located in Springfield, VA (which is NGA), the panhandle of Florida (of course not the more popular and warm parts of Florida), Fort Hood or Fayetteville, NC (yeah), and Dayton, OH. Or the job is in the desert. There’s one thing about this I have to highlight: I’ve noticed jobs that tend to be in “sexy” places (places where many people want to go like Hawaii, Florida, or located off a popular metropolitan area, etc.) all tend to have higher requirements. For example, Florida, which is the first state I tried to get a job in upon separating from the military (because I’m from Florida) had jobs that all had “senior” or “expert” in the title. These jobs also required a minimum of a Master’s degree with 10-12 years of experience. It has been this way for the past several years. I did a job search today, and the only jobs not in the panhandle were in Tampa; one wanted an “expert” while the other wanted a “senior.” [Cause ya you, “we don’t want those low-level people down here, so less create a deterrence” says those guys.] For some odd reason, Florida doesn’t seem to want people who are entry-level to mid-career and fazes them out by attaching “senior” to their job titles. I’ve noticed this. My theory is that working in Florida is more in high demand (at least more than NC or VA) and because companies get tons of applications, they only select the mid-career and up people.
- The pay is not as high as it used to be. Now I know this is common for many security clearance contracting jobs across the board recently, but it’s highly evident for the imagery career field. Just five years ago, it wasn’t uncommon for someone to separate from the military with 4 years of experience and no degree, and start off with a job paying 75K-85K a year. Today, that’s not a reality at all. You’d be lucky if you can get 60k. 60k is ok in some places but not in DC where I am. Inflation is going up and salaries are going down. This alone, is enough motivation to move on to another career field all together. Because it’s so difficult to get new intelligence skills on my own because of limited access to software and training (how could I learn GOINT or counterintelligence for example, on my own?), I’m looking at transitioning into a career field where I can study things on my own like programming, configuring cisco routers, information security, etc. I now have four IT certifications and is teaching myself how to program right now. Software developers and security professionals are in high demand right now.