Cool Careers: Geospatial Technology and Geographic Information Systems

November 16 was International Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Day, and events were held all over the world to introduce GIS applications and careers to a broader audience.

Do you like maps? Do you like computers and technology? Do you want a career with upward potential and very diverse fields of application? Yes? Then geospatial technology is for you!


What is GIS?

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are software programs that help map different global, regional, or local phenomena, making them easier to understand. GIS aides in processing and communicating information and makes it possible to put different layers of information over a map and thereby telling the story of a place through different lenses. It is possible to create maps that illustrate the social, linguistic, ethnic, environmental, settlement, or climate history and development of a certain locale.

What does a GIS professional do?

GIS specialists translate data into maps. They research, design, and develop geographical information systems and geospatial technology using different databases. They also analyze data and use it to plot and prepare digital maps.

How do I become a GIS Professional?


Where do GIS professionals work?

GIS maps and data are needed and used in virtually every field. Law enforcement needs crime maps, the agricultural industry needs crop maps, and coastal protection agencies need maps of changing coast lines. GIS specialists are needed in numerous sectors; and are employed by diverse entities, such as engineering and surveying firms, utility companies, insurance companies, oil and gas companies, and logistics firms. Public employers, such as local and state governments, also have a sizable need in departments concerning  natural resources, traffic and development, urban planning, and elections, among others. Last but not least, the federal government and military employ GIS specialists for intelligence and homeland security work.

For more detailed information on this profession, check out the career profile for geospatial information scientists and technologists on O-Net.

Written by Anne Nowak.