Army Job Profile: 12Y Geospatial Engineer

These soldiers help map crucial geographic data

Hand held GPS Unit Used During Archaeological Survey
••• Wessex Archaeology

Geospatial engineers in the Army help with the collection of sensitive geographic data. At its most basic, the job of the military occupational specialty (MOS) 12Y is collecting, analyzing, and distributing geospatial information. One use for that information is to analyze terrain for military operations. But the work has other applications, too—for the military, for civilian disaster relief, and in support of the Department of Homeland Security.


These soldiers extract geographic data from satellite imagery, aerial photography, and field reconnaissance and use that data to create maps. These activities help commanders visualize the battlefield and its terrain; part of the MOS 12Y job involves preparing briefs covering all aspects of the terrain. Geospatial engineers also create and maintain geospatial databases.


To qualify for this job, an interest in geography, maps, and charts is useful, as is the ability to use drafting equipment and programs. Basic computer skills are important, and soldiers interested in MOS 12Y should be able to present ideas in computer-generated two- and three-dimensional output. 

In addition to these skills, you'll need to score at least a 95 on the Skilled Technical (ST) portion of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test. The subtests for the ST category include General Science (GS), Word Knowledge and Paragraph Comprehension (VE), Mathematics Knowledge (MK), and Mechanical Comprehension (MC).


Soldiers in this job spend 10 weeks in basic combat training and 20 weeks in advanced individual training. Part of this advanced stage takes place in the classroom, and part in the field with on-the-job instruction, including training on geographic information systems.

You'll also learn how to interpret geographic imagery, how to conduct geographic analysis and perform other related skills. MOS 12Y geospatial engineers receive training to help them learn to prepare briefings for commanding officers to help learn all aspects of a new terrain, which is especially important in battlefield situations.

Security Clearance

Since this MOS involves the collection of sensitive information that could have an impact on combat operations, a secret security clearance is needed, so any soldier seeking this job has to meet those requirements. You'll be subject to an investigation of your character and conduct, looking into your finances, any criminal activity, and in some instances mental and emotional stability. The point of these investigations is to ascertain if an individual is eligible for access to national security information.

Also, normal color vision is required, and soldiers in this job must be U.S. citizens. 

Similar Civilian Occupations

Many aspects of this job are specific to the military and may not translate directly to civilian careers. But some of the skills you'll learn are likely to be useful for jobs at construction or surveying companies, and the computer programs you'll learn may be useful for jobs in civilian architecture firms.