GIS Project Manager: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a GIS project manager. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and certification options to find out if this is the career for you.

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GIS stands for geographic information system. GIS project managers are the people who lead a team in analyzing geographic data for a specific purpose, such as city planning or disaster relief. GIS project managers need a sound knowledge of geography, as well as the software employed for their projects.

Essential Information

Geographic information system (GIS) project managers administer projects involving the collection or utilization of geographic data. This job typically requires a relevant bachelor's degree as well as planning and leadership skills and specific technological expertise. Additionally, employers may prefer candidates who have years of experience in the field.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* -2% (for Geographers)
Median Annual Salary (May 2015)* $74,260 (for Geographers)

Source: *United States Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description

A GIS project manager often works for a cartographic or geographic survey firm, gathering data relating to urban planning, natural resource exploration, security, emergency planning and GPS systems. GIS jobs often involve a good deal of travel and outdoor fieldwork.

Salary and Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that jobs for geographers were likely to experience a decline of 2% from 2014 to 2024. In large part, this expected decline is due to the need for governments to cut spending. The BLS reported that geographers had a median annual wage of $74,260 in May 2015.

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Job Duties

A GIS project manager is typically expected to have not just technical knowledge regarding GIS systems, but also skills and experience as a team leader and business administrator. The duties of a GIS project manager may include delegating responsibilities, communicating with staff, technical consulting with clients, allocating resources, budgeting and tracking logistics of GIS projects, as well as working directly with a GIS.

Education Requirements

Many employers expect candidates for GIS project management jobs to have at least a bachelor's degree in cartography, computer science, geography or a related discipline; some employers may only be interested in candidates with graduate degrees. Candidates for GIS project manager positions may also need several years of relevant experience and an in-depth knowledge of their field.


The American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) and the GIS Certification Institute (GISCI) offer voluntary certifications in GIS technologies which may improve one's job prospects; some employers may seek candidates who are specifically licensed by the U.S. government as geographic surveyors or photogrammetrists. These certifications each require years of professional experience working with GIS.

Because of the predicted decline in positions, prospective GIS project managers should expect a highly competitive job market. Applicants can improve their odds by holding higher education, such as a master's degree, and/or certification in GIS.

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