What Does a GIS Analyst Do?

Explore the career requirements for GIS analysts. Get the facts about job duties, education requirements, certification and the employment outlook to determine if this is the right field for you. Schools offering Culture & Media Studies degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a GIS Analyst Do?

GIS analysts are mapmakers who use GIS technology to present spatial information in a digital format. These maps may be useful to a number of sectors, including environmental services, natural resource exploration, and local government. GIS analysts collect geographic data, compile data from surveys and images, update existing maps, and may design maps for mobile phones and navigation systems. As a GIS analyst, you may focus your career on mapmaking, analysis or GIS software development. Take a look at the following chart for an overview of how to enter this field.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Geography, cartography, surveying
Key Skills GIS software expertise, data collection, quantitative and qualitative data analysis
Licensure/Certification Licensure required in some states; voluntary certification available
Job Growth (2014-2024) 29% for all cartographers and photogrammetrists*
Median Salary (2015) $61,880 for all cartographers and photogrammetrists*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What is a GIS Analyst?

GIS analysts are a kind of cartographer. Building digital databases and gathering and verifying information in the field could be among your job responsibilities, as well as applying and analyzing this information to solve problems for your employer. You might focus on creating maps by working with a graphic designer or using specialized software. Some GIS analysts combine mapmaking with another area, such as market research or urban planning.

Where Can I Work?

Local, state and federal governments are major employers of GIS analysts. You might also work for a corporation that needs to plan delivery routes or map geographic factors for planning locations. GIS analysts are also employed by consulting agencies and engineering companies.

Do I Need a Degree?

Most entry-level jobs in the field can be obtained with a bachelor's degree and some prior GIS or geography experience. Coursework in geometry, statistics, remote sensing and GIS software can help you with some of the skills needed on the job.

Do I Need to Be Licensed or Certified?

Some states require surveying licensure for all cartographers and photogrammetrists, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The GIS Certification Institute (GISCI) offers certification for experienced GIS professionals who meet educational and professional standards and pass written examinations. GIS analysts with certification can earn higher salaries than those who are not certified.

What Is the Occupational Outlook for GIS Analysts?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) classifies GIS analysts among cartographers and photogrammetrists and expects a 29% increase in jobs during the 2014-2024 decade. The federal executive branch represented the highest-paying employer in the field as of 2015. The architectural, engineering and related services industry was the largest employer of cartographers and photogrammetrists.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

There are several careers which require similar skills and educational experience as a GIS analyst. Civil engineers design, build, and maintain construction projects such as airports, roads, and bridges. This profession requires only a bachelor's degree, though civil engineers who serve the public directly need to be licensed. Geographers study the land and its features, or they may even study the human dimensions of a landscape. Environmental specialists may advise companies or policymakers on environmental issues, such as pollution and waste management. Geographers and environmental specialists also only require a bachelor's degree to gain entry-level employment.

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