- URISA GIS Job Descriptions - this link appears to no longer be active and is now available as a book for $60.
- Summaries of Duties Typically Associated With Different Kinds of GIS-Related Jobs - this is based on the URISA job descriptions
- GIS Lounge - not as well done as the URISA definitions but more up to date and shows some of the confusion between the definitions.
- GIS Job Map - a global map showing where some positions are available
Below are pages with information on the types of jobs and available jobs in geospatial disiplines. We'll send out notices for job applications as they become available.
GIS Job Descriptions
The main terms used for job descriptions within the GIS world are listed below. These definitions and they required skills are from publications and my own experience but each employer may have their own, somewhat different, definitions.
The experience required for a GIS Intern can vary based on the job requirements. The skills below are for a first-time intern with minimal background. These position are typically not paid or have a small stipend. The position can transition into a paid position in some organizations.
- Search for and download common GIS datasets
- Use GIS software to create maps
- Understand basic GIS terminology
Technicians will primarily be doing data collection, data management, some basic analysis, and simple map creation. These are typically entry-level but larger organizations will hire a number of technicians and the other GIS professionals rely on them to get the right data, in the right spatial reference, quickly and accurately. Technicians will be expected to have simple analysis abilities to prepare datasets for others to use. Technicians will have at least one semester of GIS classes and may have several or a minor.
- GIS Intern skills
- Find, download, decompress a variety of GIS data
- Convert data between common file formats
- Confirm spatial references are correctly defined
- Select appropriate spatial references for tasks
- Project data to selected spatial references
- Manage a medium sized set of GIS data (100 datasets)
- Using a GPS to gather data
- Simple Structured Query Language (SQL) queries on attributes
- Perform basic vector analysis
- Perform basic raster analysis
- Maintain metadata
- Symbolizing data for visualization
- Create simple reports and maps
- Experience with one ore more professional GIS applications
- ArcGIS, QGIS, GRASS, BlueSpray
The definitions for analyst and specialist are often used interchangeably. Here, I've used the definitions from The Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) which defines an analyst as being the next level above a technician and has additional schooling (at least several GIS classes), can perform all the tasks for a technician, and can perform more sophisticated analysis such as network analysis, spatial statistics, etc. A GIS analyst will have at least two GIS classes and may have a minor or bachelors degree in a spatial science field.
- GIS Technician skills
- Basic network analysis
- Typical terrain analysis
- Common raster interpolation methods
- Spatial statistics including: Variograms, Kriging, and Cluster analysis
- Create reports, maps, posters, and simple websites with geospatial content
- Repair and maintain relationships in topological data
- Create simple 3D visualizations
- Using a spatial database
A specialist is a specialist in one or more areas of GIS analysis or are a specialist in applying spatial analysis to a problem area. Sometimes a specialist will have a combination of these such as network analysis for routing emergency vehicles or a spatial analyst who works with the spread of disease. Such positions often require cross-disciplinary expertise.
- GIS Analyst skills
- Additional analysis in area of interest
- Use of spatial applications within area of interest. Examples include:
- HEC-RAS for hydrology
- AutoCAD for utilities
GIS Data Manager or Database Administrator
Data and database management includes the selection, design, implementation, and maintenance of large and often distributed datasets and databases of GIS information. These positions require a background in spatial science and in database management. Often quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) are also required.
- GIS Analyst skills
- Structure Query Language (SQL) for database management
- Database design including spital database design
- Specific experience with one or more of the following spatial databases:
- SQL Server, PostgreSQL/PostGIS, Oracle Spatial, ArcSDE
- Developing appropriate security protocols, QA/QC processes, and backup strategies
Programmers are expected to program in a programming language to implement GIS applications, applets, extensions, and/or batch processes. Programmers typically have a computer engineering and geospatial background. GIS Programmers typically operate at a higher level than "Computer Programmers" and are really at more of an "engineering" level. This is because they are typically called upon to design GIS systems and then implement the programming within the system. This requires experience with computer system design, software design, and some database design.
- GIS Analyst skills
- Knowledge of one or more spatial programming languages. This could include: Python, Java, C/C++, C#
- Knowledge of common spatial libraries. This will vary by the language used and the application but could include: FWTools: GDAL, OGR, Proj4, ArcPy, GeoTools, JTS
- Use of geospatial web services
Coordinators work with both GIS staff and clients to solve GIS problems and make sure the final products are delivered on time. These jobs include coordinating the development of GIS products across organizations and often between organizations. On top of the GIS specialist.
- GIS Analyst skills
- Communication, training, and team building
- Knowledge of the organizations GIS software, datasets, processes, and requirements
A GIS Manager is a GIS Coordinator who also manages the financial and people issues associated with a project. The GIS manager is ultimately responsible for both the success of each project and the long-term success of a GIS group. This means they must have the ability to look into the future of the organization, predict what will be needed, and develop an organization that can meet the current demands and future needs. GIS Managers will typically have a masters degree or years of experience within the organization.
- GIS Coordinator skills
- Hiring, firing, and pay administration for employees
- Budgeting for projects
- Ensuring appropriate space and equipment are available for projects
- Developing long-term visions and business plans for the GIS organization