Spatial Data Scientist: Job Description & Salary

Career Definition of a Spatial Data Scientist

Spatial data scientists are also known as geospatial data scientists. They are data scientists who work with big data with a focus on geospatial information. Their job may involve gathering data and presenting it in reports or on maps. They use a combination of computer and mathematical skills to develop applications and programs that can gather geospatial data. They may also work on developing Geographic Information Systems (GIS) that can be used by the military or businesses. A spatial data scientist may be responsible for taking an existing Global Positioning System (GPS) device and determining how to improve it so that it will provide users with more effective information.

Spatial data scientists know how to access spatial data and they understand how to apply this information. They determine the needs of their company and then create programs or systems or technology that will ensure they have the information they need. They may also create algorithms for processing spatial data. Their duties may also involve training other staff to analyze GIS systems and data.

Educational Requirements Bachelor's or master's degree
Job Skills Computer skills, programming skills, analytical skills, mathematical skills, problem-solving skills, analytical skills, teaching skills, teamwork skills, technical skills
Median Salary (2016)* $86,510 (computer occupations, all other)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 9% (computer occupations, all other)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

It may be possible to start out in an entry-level position as a spatial data scientist with a bachelor's degree. Many employers, however, prefer applicants who have a master's degree in a relevant field. Those interested in this career may opt to study computer science or engineering. Other fields of study that can benefit those planning to become spatial data scientists include mathematics and statistics. Knowing programming languages, such as Java, may be required for some positions, and a background in machine learning may also be an asset.

Required Skills

Computer programming skills are crucial for spatial data scientists because they need to be able to improve GIS software and systems. They also need to have teamwork skills because they may collaborate with miners, biologists or other professionals to determine their needs. They must have strong analytical skills to be able to effectively process data and identify how existing systems can be improved to meet user needs. Problem-solving skills play a key role in helping them come up with new systems or forms of technology that can provide more accurate or effective data. They also need teaching skills to train technicians that assist with processing systems.

Career Outlook and Salary

Spatial data scientists are not listed separately on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (B LS) website. Data for these professionals is encompassed in the listing for 'computer occupations, all other'. Over a ten-year period starting in 2016 the BLS expects professionals in this career category to see a 9% increase in jobs, which is slightly faster growth than the average rate of job growth of 7% expected for all occupations during the same time. As of 2016, the BLS reported that those categorized in 'computer occupations, all other' earned median annual incomes of $86,510.

Related Careers

There are many career options that involve using similar skills or performing duties that are comparable to the duties of spatial data scientists. Explore some similar career options that may also appeal to you if you're considering a career as a spatial data scientist.

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