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Geographical Information Systems Technician: Duties, Outlook and Salary

Geographic information systems technicians require some formal education. Learn about the education, job duties, salary and job outlook to see if this is the right career for you.

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Geographic information systems technicians perform a variety of duties relating to surveying and construction, often working with technical equipment. These workers repair, maintain, and troubleshoot complex equipment used in the field. While the BLS projects a decline in job growth from 2014 through 2024, GIS technicians can expect a median salary about $42,000 a year.

Essential Information

Geographic information systems (GIS) consist of data sets, computer equipment, and programs used for map-making, geological surveying, land-use modeling, and construction planning. A geographic information systems technician helps develop, modify, or utilize GIS information. A postsecondary degree in a field such as GIS or geomatics is required for this job.

Required Education Bachelor's degree is common; associate's degree programs available
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* -8% (for surveying and mapping technicians)
Median Annual Salary (May 2015)* $42,010 (for surveying and mapping technicians)

Source: *United States Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Geographic Information Systems Technician Duties

Geographic information systems technicians build, change, or add to GIS databases by typing, scanning, or downloading geometric information. They may analyze the information in GIS databases and generate charts, maps, graphs, or tables to display inquiry results. GIS technicians can be responsible for making sure databases are error-free and current. Using geographic information, technicians also create computer models and visual representations of land-development plans. GIS technicians may also be required to convert maps to digital format or rescale maps to coincide with new information.

Some GIS technicians assist other users of GIS technology by explaining how to utilize, modify, or create systems information and hardware. Others may be in charge of addressing problems with equipment or programming as well as issuing advice on how to improve the system or its usability. Since GIS technology is rapidly advancing, GIS technicians are expected to stay informed through continuing-education courses, literature, or industry seminars.

Geographic Information Systems Technician Outlook

Improvements in GIS technology translate to increased use, which means an increase in the need for GIS technicians to build, manage, and operate GIS databases and applications. More opportunities for GIS technicians develop as populations increase and efficient use of environmental assets becomes more important. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expected job opportunities for surveying and mapping technicians to decrease by 8% between 2014 and 2024.

Geographic Information Systems Technician Salary

The BLS includes geographic information systems technicians in the broader career category of surveying and mapping technicians. The median annual wages of surveying and mapping technicians was $42,010 in May 2015, according to the BLS. Most of these professionals earned between $26,060 and $68,160 annually.

GIS technology must be maintained and serviced properly to ensure accuracy, which makes a GIS technician's job is vitally important. Furthermore, with projected declining employment, technicians can distinguish themselves from competition by attaining proper training, education, and staying up-to-date with the latest technology trends in the field.

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