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The purpose of this occupational guide is to provide you with useful information to help you make career decisions.
If you are searching for a job, please go to
California Occupational Guide Number
Interest Area: Professional and Managerial
WHAT DOES A GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEM (GIS) SPECIALIST DO?
GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEMS (GIS) SPECIALISTS work with related software and programs to create and maintain data and/or maps that can be combined with geographically referenced data. GIS software has the capacity to relate different types of data such as socioeconomic, demographic, administrative or political boundaries, land use, land cover, environmental, infrastructure, and transportation networks.
GIS Specialists perform the following tasks:
WHAT SKILLS ARE IMPORTANT?
GIS Specialists possess the following skills, knowledge, and abilities:
WHATíS THE WORK ENVIRONMENT?
GIS Specialists usually work in clean, well lit, and well-ventilated offices. They generally work in their own cubicle equipped with computers and automated mapping equipment. The work often involves long hours in front of a computer screen using a keyboard and a mouse. Some GIS professionals do fieldwork to collect data.
Union membership depends upon the employment setting. Some government and utility company employees belong to public employee unions.
WHATíS THE CALIFORNIA JOB OUTLOOK?
The following information is from the occupational projections produced by the Employment Development Departmentís Labor Market Information Division.
GIS Specialists are part of the Database Administrator occupational group, and this outlook information applies to the whole occupational group not just the GIS Specialists:
Estimated number of workers in 1998:
Use of GIS continues to increase, but may not boost employment of GIS Specialists. Rather, it may lead to the addition of GIS duties to other occupations such as drafters, cartographers, and Research analysts. Most GIS work is now done on personal computers whose increased speed and storage, relative low cost, and ease of use motivated GIS vendors to develop simpler GIS software.
Local governments face great challenges in providing transportation, health, employment, welfare, education, and infrastructure management to an ever-growing population. Since most of the decisions they make are related to location, geographic information is one of the most important and valuable factors in the areas of planning, public safety, urban renewal, and economic development issues facing local governments. Business also finds GIS an indispensable tool for marketing, location, and distribution decisions.
WHAT DOES THE JOB PAY?
Wages for Geographic Information Systems Specialists represent the broad occupational group Database Administrators.
Database Administrators 2001 Wages
Hourly wages range from
Average hourly wage
Average annual wage
GIS Specialists generally work 40 hours a week. Longer hours and workweeks are not uncommon.
Those GIS Specialists who work for governmental agencies and utilities enjoy a full range of benefits including health, vision, dental care, vacation, and sick leave. Benefits from other employers will vary.
HOW DO I PREPARE FOR THE JOB?
Education and Training
Those who wish to acquire GIS skills should pursue a GIS certificate program or obtain a Bachelor of Science degree in geography emphasizing GIS. There are a number of colleges and universities in California with certificate programs in GIS, including San Diego State University, American River Community College in Sacramento, Columbia College in Sonora, and the University of California at Riverside and Santa Barbara. GIS in combination with a major or minor, such as business, sociology, political science, or economics that emphasize analyzing data is a valuable education mix. Distance learning courses in GIS are also available over the Internet.
Licensing and Certification
California does not require licensing or certification for GIS Specialists. Employment and advancement opportunities may be enhanced for those who obtain certification through the professional associations listed in the Other Sources of Information section.
It is important for GIS Specialists to keep up with new technology and practices in the field through extension courses and professional association seminars.
HOW DO I FIND THE JOB?
The majority of GIS Specialists work for government agencies or utility companies. Some GIS Specialists work as consultants and technicians to businesses that help private firms and public entities select the best hardware and software for their geographic information needs.
Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Private firms are listed in the yellow pages under Computer Graphics and Digital Imaging, Map Dealers and Services, and Marketing Research and Analysis. California job openings can be found at various online job-listing systems including CalJOBSSM atwww.caljobs.ca.gov or at JobCentral National Labor Exchange at www.jobcentral.org.
For other occupational and wage information and a listing of the largest employers in any county, visit the Employment Development Department Labor Market Information Web page atwww.calmis.ca.gov. Find further job search assistance from your nearest Workforce Services Office www.edd.ca.gov/Jobs_and_Training/Workforce_Services_Offices_by_County.htm or the closest One-Stop site, www.servicelocator.org/.
WHERE CAN THIS JOB LEAD?
GIS Specialists in larger organizations may advance to supervisory and manager positions. Others may choose to become self-employed as GIS consultants.
OTHER SOURCES OF INFORMATION
California Geographical Information
P. O. Box 914
Adelanto, CA 92301-9998
American Society for Photogrammetry and
Remote Sensing (ASPRS)
The Imaging and Geospatial Information Society
5410 Grosvenor Lane, Suite 210
Bethesda, MD 20814-2160
Association of American Geographers
1710 Sixteenth Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20009-3198
University Consortium for Geographic Information
43351 Spinks Ferry Road
Leesburg, VA 20176-5631
Urban and Regional Information Employment Projections by Occupation
1460 Renaissance Drive, Suite 305
Park Ridge, IL 60068
Employment Projections by Occupation
Employment and Wages by Occupation
RELATED OCCUPATIONAL GUIDES
OCCUPATIONAL CODE REFERENCES
OES(Occupational Employment Statistics)
DOT(Dictionary of Occupational Titles)
Note: This is NOT a job opening. The purpose of This California Occupational Guide is to provide you with useful information to help you make career decisions. If you are searching for a job, go to: