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Tyler Morton Adds Education to Real-World Experience Following Career Shift


NWMISSOURI MS GIS student Tyler Morton

Nebraska native Tyler Morton knew that working in sales wasn't his calling. Instead, he found his niche as a geographic information systems (GIS) project manager.

"I spent the first year on the job learning about GIS," Morton said. "When the pandemic rolled around, I went back to school to get a formal education."

Morton is now on track to graduate from the online Master of Science in Geographic Information Science program at Northwest Missouri State University in 2022.

"When I started, I was only going to do the graduate certificate program," he said. "I got into that and had a little extra free time with work, so I decided I would continue on to get the master's degree."

With the online graduate certificate under his belt, Morton also recently landed a new job as a GIS project manager at Canada-based Saturn Power. For three years, he held the same position at Inked Land Company based in Loveland, Colorado, where he is now doing contract work in oil and gas, remotely from Broomfield.

"For anybody working full time, the online format is great," Morton said. "There's flexibility with my schedule because I am working remotely. There are days I can work on school projects throughout the day when work is slow. I can also grind away at nights or on weekends."

Additionally, Morton will have a map of self-identified racial origins in New York City published in Esri Map Book, Volume 37, in July.

"I'm super excited," he said. "The map was one I worked on in the Cartography course and in my free time. It was a nice verification that the hard work and changing of career paths was worth it."

Base Layer

Morton is from Lincoln, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration, with minors in economics and marketing, from the University of Nebraska in 2016.

"I kept it broad because I didn't know what I wanted to do in business," he said. "Part of me thought about working in finance or marketing. I had a general interest in business. I got lucky. I had a boss who had a good vision for me.

"When sales didn't turn out to be my strong suit, he didn't cut me loose, he found a new role where I could excel. Working in oil and gas has been a great experience, but I'm excited to transition to renewable resources. I'm happy to be a part of that movement. I also like being in a position to lead other GIS professionals."

The graduate certificate program led Morton to Northwest, but he also heard glowing reviews of the university.

"I did research and weighed some options," he said. "My sister looked at Northwest for undergrad. I also have a buddy in Denver who went to Northwest and liked it. I searched on Reddit also — there's a GIS sub-Reddit page. I heard good things."

So far, Cartographic Design and Visualization is Morton's favorite course in the online M.S. in Geographic Information Science program. He also enjoyed GIS and Spatial Analytics and Geoprocessing with Python.

"What I'm learning applies to what I have done in my day-to-day job," he said. "I like the freedom and the design aspect of the course. There are parts of the courses that I enjoyed because I'm learning something new and useful."

Mapped Out

Morton looks forward to acquiring more knowledge and applying it to his new role in his final three courses leading up to graduation.

"You have to be disciplined in an online program," he said. "You don't have someone looking over your shoulder. You are getting out of it what you put into it.

"The teachers at Northwest are great resources, but you have a lot more flexibility and freedom. You are your own boss with your schedule. It's great for anybody who is working, like the majority of the students in the program."

Especially because he is completing the master's degree program from a different time zone, Morton appreciates the accessibility of the instructors.

"The faculty at Northwest have been super responsive and on their game with availability almost constantly," he said. "It's tough for the students not seeing them face to face. I'm sure it's the same way for the professors because there's only so much you can convey through email.

"The students have to put in the work, but the professors do everything they can to help. They are willing to do as much as they're capable of to help you on your journey."

An avid sports fan who loves the outdoors, Morton can't wait to see where his true calling takes him — especially once he has a master's degree.

"The best part about being employed and learning in the field is, you're not just learning for a grade; you're learning what you can apply every day," he said. "There's a ton of it.

"You can pick things out of projects you are working on in any given class and think of ways to apply them to different areas. It's been a great experience."

Learn more about Northwest's online M.S. in Geographic Information Science program.



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