What Does an Imagery Analyst Do?

Mary McMahon

An imagery analyst looks at graphical data and interprets it to pull out useful information for applications like military intelligence, medical diagnosis, and archaeological surveying. There are a wide range of careers in this field, each of which comes with its own training and experience requirements. In addition to evaluating images manually, imagery analysts may work with computer programs designed to partially automate some tasks so they can work more efficiently. They are also involved in the development and training of artificial intelligence programs used to screen images.

Imagery analysts may study the results of EEG or other neuroimaging tests.
Imagery analysts may study the results of EEG or other neuroimaging tests.

One important application of image analysis is in the military, where an imagery analyst can look at satellite photographs, surveillance, infrared camera shots, radar, and other types of images. Depending on the application, the analyst can look for a variety of information, including indications of troop movements, identification of the people in an image, and signs of weapons or military installations. Huge numbers of images are generated for military use every day, and they need to be carefully evaluated to determine if they contain information of importance.

In the medical field, an imagery analyst can interpret medical imaging studies, including video studies like ultrasound. Readouts from Electrocardiogram (ECG) and Electroencephalogram (EEG) machines can also be studied by an analyst. This requires medical training to understand the data and learn to distinguish specific features of importance in images. The imagery analyst can prepare a written report with findings, discussing the implications and making recommendations for other medical providers.

Geologists, surveyors, archaeologists, and other people who work at outdoor sites that need to be carefully surveyed, mapped, and described can also have call for an imagery analyst. A mining surveyor, for example, wants to know about the geological formations in an area, looking not just at above ground surveillance but also the results of seismic testing, ultrasound, and other imaging studies used to look below the surface of the earth. The types of tasks performed can depend on the industry, and often involve the use of computer modeling and analysis to process information efficiently.

Training to become an imagery analyst may take place in a military setting, two year technical institution, or four year degree program. While learning, people handle a variety of images to learn more about the types of information they may encounter and how to process it. They also have an opportunity to test computer software and develop competence on computer systems used in the industry.

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