There are many fields and areas of interest that utilize GIS - and demand for trained analysts is increasing.
Who needs GIS? Almost anyone and everyone. Every government agency at every level (federal, state, county, municipal), every utility, every major corporation, countless individuals, and many others you may have never considered use GIS daily to solve problems, visualize scenarios, save lives, run businesses, keep the world safe, and - just try to understand their world a little better.
With a GIS, we can answer questions such as:
- Where are my customers?
- Where are my goods?
- Where is the fire?
- Where are my assets?
- Where is the wildlife habitat?
- Where is the best location for a new office?
- Where is the flu epidemic likely to appear next?
- Where can I find a new house that meets my needs?
- Where are the most valuable resources?
- Where is the hurricane going?
- Where can I find: something to eat/gas for my car/an ATM
Almost everything you can think of is represented on a spreadsheet or a database somewhere. And nearly every time someone wants to inquire about any of those things, the question, "Where?" comes up - usually it is one of the first and often the most important piece of information! All such inquiries are now prepared, processed, and distributed by a Geographic Information System, a GIS.
GIS training will often get you the job. Employers are looking for new hires with GIS experience - even among non-geographers! Every manager, agency, or business owner wants to make the highest and best use of his or her resources. GIS is a powerful technical vehicle and set of tools that can be used to make enlightening queries, analyze information quickly, visualize complex data instantaneously - make and save money. These are things that all organizations, all employers, are trying to achieve today. GIS helps them realize these objectives and many others as well..
How much does it pay?
According to a GISJobs 2011 survey, annual U.S. salaries average almost $52,000. Another survey, from www.salary.com, reported typical GIS Analyst salary information in better-than-average ranges (below). A GIS Analyst I is the normal entry-level GIS technical position.
There are many other categories and types of worker in the GIS discipline. Many GIS professionals eventually migrate into the private sector or into industries such as engineering, utilities, resources, internet mapping, and computers (or who move on to consulting, development, or management). These positions command increased salary averages and greater opportunities for specialized advancement,
What skills do I need?
- Familiarity with GIS concepts and software
- Saddleback teaches GIS on ESRI's ArcGIS Desktop
- Basic GIS/Geography concepts
- Current on-line tools (Google Earth/NASA World Wind, etc.)
- Good written and verbal communication skills
- Problem solving abilities, multitasking ability
One or more additional skills to consider for advancement or for select industries
- A Social or Natural Science specialty, focus of interest
- Business development
- Database skills: Oracle, etc.
- Math and/or Statistics
- Formal degree: B.A. or B.S., certification, advanced degree
- Hands-on training and internships, volunteer work, assistantships
- Programming skills: C, C++, Visual Basic, Java, Vendor API
- Game development, CAD, engineering, modeling, imagery skills
- Public experience - urban/rural planning, utilities, government
- Computer networking/design/development/admin/integration+
- Resources; environmental/ecological/geological/biological/oceanographic/meteorological, etc.
Having one or more additional skills from the above list (among many others) greatly improves your own marketability when seeking employment or advancement. The GIS industry is evolving quickly and dramatically. Opportunities abound. It is now fairly easy to find GIS being used in practically every discipline.
GIS is an interdisciplinary field and provides many opportunities to pursue almost any area of interest. GIS allows you to analyze, visualize and communicate your ideas more quickly and effectively.
How do I find a job?
These are some of the more popular job posting sites:
- GIS Jobs Clearinghouse
- GIS Connection
- GIS Lounge
- GIS User
- Directions Magazine
Who uses GIS?
GIS is everywhere.
GIS is used across many industries:
- Natural resources
- Health care
- Law enforcement
- Crime analysis
- Fire science
- Land use planning
- Environmental studies
- Emergency preparedness
- First Responders
- School Administration
- Libraries and museums
- Federal, state, and local government agencies
- Homeland security
- Earth Science
- Landscape Architects
- Water management
- Crime Analysis
- Real Estate
- Public Health
and the list goes on …