GIS SpecialistJob Description, Salary, Career Path, and Trends

Geographic information systems (GIS) specialists design, develop, and implement systems and databases to access and store geospatial data. They analyze this data utilizing mapping software. GIS specialists design digital maps using geospatial data and analyze spatial and non-spatial information. Many GIS specialists create maps for internal purposes and are involved with launching mobile and online applications.

Sample job description

[Your Company Name] needs a new GIS specialist to join our team. As a GIS specialist, you work to store and interpret geospatial and geographic data. You will be required to perform the daily tasks and remedial work for this position as well as research and understand new technology relating to the GIS field and learn new information systems. The ideal candidate should have experience navigating computer systems as well as geographic software and data. Previous experience in the GIS field is not required but is a major benefit. Please consider applying to this position if you would like the opportunity of working with our company and further your career as a GIS specialist.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Design, develop and implement systems and databases for geospatial data
  • Standardize geographic data
  • Research and conduct tests on new researching tools
  • Perform geospatial modeling and spatial analysis
  • Review GIS data for accuracy
  • Build, update and maintain databases and GIS software and hardware
  • Administer and troubleshoot applications and GIS solutions

Education and experience

This position requires a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, or a related field.

Required skills and qualifications

  • Proficiency with GIS desktop software and data management
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Ability to effectively configure data
  • Experience with various technology methodologies and applications
  • Detail-oriented and analytical thinker
  • Knowledge of multiple programming languages
  • Ability to process and analyze data

Preferred qualifications

  • Strong team player with the ability to adapt to diverse team members
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Exceptional critical thinking skills
  • Detail oriented
  • High level of attention to detail is required

Average salary and compensation

The average salary for a GIS specialist is $84,000 in the United States. Position salary will vary based on experience, education, company size, industry, and market.

LocationSalary LowSalary High
Phoenix, Arizona$83,550$113,000
Los Angeles, California$94,250$127,500
Denver, Colorado$78,550$106,250
Washington, DC$95,700$129,450
Miami, Florida$78,200$105,800
Orlando, Florida$72,100$97,550
Tampa, Florida$72,850$98,550
Atlanta, Georgia$76,400$103,350
Chicago, Illinois$87,800$118,800
Boston, Massachusetts$94,950$128,500
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota$75,700$102,400
New York City, New York$99,950$135,250
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania$81,400$110,000
Dallas, Texas$79,250$107,250
Houston, Texas$78,550$106,250
Seattle, Washington$91,400$123,650
National Average$71,400$96,600

Typical work environment

A GIS or geographic information systems specialist will be required to develop and implement systems to store and manage geographic and geospatial data. The GIS specialist will be required to manage and parse data with mapping software and similar instruments. As a GIS specialist, your job will be to design, develop, and implement these systems. You will also be required to convert and standardize geographic and geospatial data, research and conduct tests on new tools and technology, and complete other required tasks for the GIS specialist position. Proficiency or expertise with GIS-related software and tools is often a requirement or major benefit.

Typical hours

Typical hours for this position are from 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday, in an office setting.

Available certifications

As a GIS specialist, having certifications in relevant software use as well as geographic data parsing can be beneficial. These certifications will remain largely the same due to the specialized nature of this field. Some of the ideal certifications for a GIS specialist may include the following:

  • Geographic Information Systems Professional (GISP). A GISP, or Geographic Information Systems Professional, will gain real experience as well as education on geographic information systems. Although this certification does require more than two years of work experience, it is extremely beneficial to any GIS specialist who is looking to prove their ability through relevant certification and training.
  • Geographic Information Services (GIS) Professional. Offered by the GIS Certification Institute, the Geographic Information Services Professional certification provides proof of expertise and establishes confidence in a GIS specialist. Because of this, this certification is one of the key recognized certifications for a geographic information systems specialist.

Career path

This position requires a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field. GIS specialists have the opportunity to advance to positions such as GIS supervisor or GIS coordinator.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 19-3092

2020 Employment1,600
Projected Employment in 20301,700
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 1% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift100 increase

The field of information technology is continually growing as businesses become more innovative. Organizations across all sectors are becoming more reliant on information technology, which means GIS specialists will continue to be vital to their success.

According to the industry website Computer Science Online, mobile technology, data security, and big data will be the core components of most organizations’ infrastructure, products, and services. The growth of these components will increase the number of mobile and web-based applications. GIS specialists will be needed to make this information more accessible and usable for people who are not experts. Also, the management of resources, among other causes, will drive the need for GIS specialists in many organizations.

Sample interview questions

  • What is the use of a GIS?
  • What interests you about GIS?
  • Do you feel like your education and degrees have prepared you to confidently work in the GIS specialist field?
  • What would you say are the most valuable software and software programs for a GIS specialist?
  • What programming languages are the most valuable languages for a GIS specialist to know?
  • Can you explain the difference between geo-coding and geo-referencing?
  • What certifications do you have that are related to GIS?

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