A GIS specialist typically works in the area of enhancing, organizing and displaying geographic data obtained from a variety of GIS systems in a format that is easily interpreted by computers or humans. The data gathered from these GIS sources include huge statistics regarding the demographic, terrain and economic features of a geographic body. The GIS specialist uses various software packages available to convert this data to proper customizable maps.
GIS specialists are employed by many government agencies like weather forecast department, the defense department, police department, various investigation bodies and many private firms as well. Their ability to apply their knowledge of mathematics, statistics and geography in manipulating the geographic data gathered and representing it in the form of maps and tables, which can be easily interpreted by humans and computers, make them very important in many fields.
Key Responsibilities of a GIS Specialist
A GIS specialist works amongst many GIS technicians and analysts, monitoring a lot of specialized imaging and data gathering devices in a specialized lab which has the state-of-art software products and computer systems. Along with managing various GIS projects, the technicians and the analysts under them, one also has to follow some of the key GIS specialist responsibilities endowed upon them in general. The following, however, might just depict a subset of activities they are required to do in some firms and some more responsibilities might as well be added according to the policies of various firms. The omission of a particular task in the list that follows does not imply that it is not a responsibility. Also, many more might be added to the list and some among them can also be relaxed. Typical GIS specialist responsibilities are:
A GIS specialist is commonly required to have an associate degree in Computer Science Engineering, Geography, Planning and Management, Surveying or other related sciences. With one of these degrees in hand, the job usually starts as a technician in the field and after gaining good experience, the position progresses to an analyst and then to a specialist.
Knowledge and Skills Required
Form of work
GIS specialists mostly work in labs with specialized equipment and state-of-art machines. They are very rarely required to travel for job purposes. They are required to communicate with the clients personally and understand their data output requirements. A lot of decision making regarding the projects in hand, their timely delivery and management, etc., are involved. Steps are taken to check the accuracy of the gathered data and to maintain its integrity by the GIS specialist.
Job Prospects and Salary
GIS specialists earn salaries in between $45,000 to $65,000 depending on the experience and the firm they are working in. There is an ever increasing demand for GIS specialists, as a lot of digitization of GIS data is increasingly being required in many fields. Even the general population is making use of digitized maps for their navigation purposes and so jobs opportunities are increasing every day. The salaries are also decent and so it is a good career choice.
For the ones who understand GIS responsibilities thoroughly and think that they would enjoy undertaking this kind of work, the job of a GIS specialist is a very good career opportunity.