How to Build a Career in GIS

Geospatial solutions are being used across all industries, and innovations in this field are happening at light speed, feeding the demand for qualified professionals looking to jumpstart their GIS careers. 

The first step towards a career in GIS is taking advantage of continuing your education. Many organizations look for candidates with a Bachelor’s Degree in areas like engineering or computer science, but you can supplement degrees in other areas with certifications. In school, pursue programs that include classes like cartography, GIS principles, programming, and database infrastructure building.

Pick an Industry

Organizations across all industries are collecting more data than ever, and much of this data is based on customer location. Applying this data to decisions that help businesses grow and thrive needs to be done easily and quickly, which is why decision-makers often turn to geospatial intelligence and information.

Lately, the news cycles have been highlighting municipal projects like infrastructure planning to logistics optimization, and using GIS to help people and products move around quickly and efficiently is no small feat. Manufacturers, emergency response teams, public transportation — the list is endless for how GIS can help. Getting real-time data locating these people and things is key to making educated, well-researched business decisions.

As GIS is applied to more and more industries, there are a variety of ways GIS professionals can approach a career. Along with developing technical skills, it’s crucial for your personal and professional growth to consider building non-technical and soft skills. Start by becoming a member of industry organizations like URISA or GITA to take advantage of their tools and networking opportunities.

Build Your Skills

Once you find a position in an area that you’re excited to innovate, look for opportunities to sharpen these hard and soft skills as you also accumulate on-the-job experience. Although mapping tech has become quite sophisticated in the past, GIS professionals must also understand and build the technical skills needed to effectively use this software. 

Because there’s a wide range of software tools used in the GIS field, it’s important to have a working knowledge of how to use these tools. It’s also not just enough to know the software you’re currently using. Take time to broaden your horizons and learn the basics of other commonly used tools and those making news as innovative or disruptive.

In addition to the skills above, GIS software developers face the additional challenge of creating tools that are used industry-wide and must be dependable and innovative. This requires a deep understanding of both the worlds of development and GIS. 

In the past few years, it has become increasingly clear that company culture will make or break an organization’s success. Knowing that, employers are looking for talent that can fulfill the job duties and be a proper fit culturally. You should showcase Non-technical and soft skills during the interview process or on your resume and LinkedIn page.

Grow Personally and Professionally

Geography, design, and math skills are all part of the job too. Public speaking skills are needed for presentations to stakeholders, and it’s something that you can easily practice for those who aren’t naturally comfortable doing it. GIS professionals are also key players in a variety of teams, which makes project management a must-learn.

Whether you’re just starting your GIS career or you’re looking to make a change to find the perfect job, get in touch with our team. We are committed to providing services and platforms for geospatial solutions, specializing in city wayfinding, defense mapping, and integrated public transportation information. We can help you find a position that builds on-the-job knowledge while encouraging soft skill growth.