GIS Analyst: Job Info & Requirements

Apr 09, 2019

Learn what GIS analysts do. See what kind of education and training are required for employment. Read on for career prospects and earning potential to see if this career is right for you.

Career Definition for a GIS Analyst

GIS data is used in the sciences, business, government, and other fields to do everything from track wildlife to compute the best delivery routes for a truck. GIS analysts, or geographic information systems analysts, perform analysis on data sets stored in a GIS database. GIS databases were originally created to help cartographers and geographers with mapping and surveying techniques, but the databases are now used in a wide variety of industries around the world. GIS analysts analyze the information in the database according to certain criteria, help design databases, support departments that use GIS, and integrate GIS with other technology.

Education Bachelor's or master's degree in geography, computer science, earth science, or related field
Job Skills Computer proficiency, familiarity with databases, writing and problem-solving skills, aptitude in science and math
Average Salary (2018)* $68,340 (all cartographers and photogrammetrists)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 19% growth (all cartographers and photogrammetrists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements

GIS analysts usually have a bachelor's or Master of Science degree in geography, computer science, surveying engineering, forestry or earth science. Many university geography programs offer courses specifically teaching GIS such as GIS and mapping. Other courses in a GIS degree program include statistics, cartography, historical geography, geodes, and GPS and measurement analysis. A bachelor's degree typically takes four to five years while a master's degree takes an additional two.

Skill Requirements

GIS analysts use their talent in a variety of fields that use geographic or location-based data stored in GIS databases. GIS analysts analyze the data based on certain criteria and generate reports that are then used in other projects. GIS analysts need to be skilled computer users, understand databases, be able to create well-written and detailed reports, solve technical problems, and use math and statistics to analyze data.

Career and Economic Outlook

GIS analysts are expected to enjoy increased job opportunities as geographic databases are utilized by more fields. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted 19% growth from 2016-2026 for cartographers and photogrammetrists, which is the broader job category that includes GIS analysts. The average annual salary of cartographers and photogrammetrists as of May 2018 was $68,340, the BLS reported.

Alternate Career Options

Similar career options within this field include:

Geographer

A geographer uses qualitative and quantitative methods to gather and analyze data, synthesizing it into maps, reports, and other usable formats. Geographers specialize in the study of physical and human characteristics of an area, such as vegetation or population density. Employment often requires at least a bachelor's degree - and more commonly a master's degree - and relevant experience. Professional GIS certification may also be required. According to the BLS, jobs in this field are expected to increase 7% from 2016-2026; geographer jobs paid an average salary of $80,530 in 2018.

Surveyor

Surveyors use specialized equipment and instruments to work outdoors and measure the boundary lines of a property. Surveyors may also research and use old property records as a guide. Part of a surveyor's job is to reconcile these old and new measurements and make maps. They may also use GIS in their jobs. Surveyors are typically required to have at least a bachelor's degree from an ABET-accredited program. A state license is also required, which often includes education, experience, and testing requirements. According to the BLS, jobs in this career field are expected to increase by 11% from 2016-2026; the average pay was $66,440 in 2018.

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