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What Does an Image Analyst Do?

G. Wiesen
G. Wiesen

The duties of an image analyst typically involve reviewing and evaluating various images captured through different photographic means. A wide range of analysis techniques can be used by someone in this field, though the application of certain scientific and mathematical concepts are quite common. Additional methods for evaluation often depend upon the field in which an image analyst works, such as an individual employed by a company that deals with aerial photography assisting with equipment calibration. This type of analyst may also work within the defense or military intelligence industries, in which clearance to sensitive information is often required.

One of the primary responsibilities of an image analyst is the evaluation of photographic images to find data and information that may easily be missed. This process can take a number of forms and can make use of many different techniques and methods of analysis. Different scientific and mathematical principles are often used, especially geometry and the use of information in an image to determine sizes and distances within a particular landscape. A college degree in a math or scientific field is typically required for someone to become an image analyst due to this type of work.

Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

Different pieces of software can also be used by an image analyst to evaluate the information captured in a photograph. An image often includes data that is captured by the camera but may not be immediately identifiable. The efforts of an image analyst are typically provided to find this type of information and allow it to be used by others. Alterations to the contrast and color balance of a photograph may be required to achieve this task, and the exact methods used often depend on the work being performed.

An image analyst can also work for a company that makes cameras or similar equipment to assist with testing of these devices. This is especially common with companies that make complex and expensive equipment, such as cameras that are mounted on airplanes or satellites for aerial photography. An analyst often works with development teams at these companies to review images and give recommendations on the quality of them.

Military defense and intelligence agencies often employ analysts to review photographs to look for potential threats or determine where enemies may be moving. An image analyst in this type of industry often has to make fairly quick and very accurate evaluations to determine where weapons may be stockpiled. It is important for an analyst to properly distinguish between combatant movements and the paths of civilians to ensure actions are not taken improperly. This type of work often requires security clearance and access to classified information, which may need to be acquired prior to beginning employment.

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