Career Profile: Geographic Information Specialists
If you go on a trip with your parents or grandparents, you might see them pull out a paper map to look at when then need help with directions. Some people prefer to get directions on paper, but others prefer to look at an online map or to get directions from a computer. Either way, someone needs to know what to put on the map. Geographic information specialists gather the kind of information that goes into these documents. If you are precise and able to work with large amounts of data, this could be the right job for you.
Making a map or chart is a complicated process. It requires exact information about the location of streets, rivers, lakes, bridges, and other features of an area. Much of this information could come from satellite or drone images, but sometimes people need to go out in person to find out about the landscape. For example, a picture cannot show whether a piece of land has soft, swampy soil or firm ground. Someone must go out to the area to find out.
Geographic information specialists normally have at least a high school education, but most also have a diploma from a career college or a higher level of education. Many employers require an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in a field such as geomatics, environmental science, or geography. Some people get a master’s degree. Normally, a bachelor’s degree takes at least three years to complete, and a master’s degree takes another year or two.
High school students can already start preparing for a career as a geographic information specialist. English courses are helpful for being able to read complicated information, and mathematics courses are important for making calculations and measurements. Courses in geography can help with understanding the influence of various factors on the landscape. For example, a stream or river could wear away part of its banks and change its course, requiring geographic information specialists to make a new map.
Jobs for geographic information specialists are available in many different areas, including universities, governments, and even construction companies or tourism companies. Agriculture is also a good source for finding jobs as a geographic information specialist. Some people might also be able to specialize in an area of the field that allows them to work as consultants for several organizations. Salaries generally start at about $50,000 and can rise to $81,000 with experience.
Usually, people in this field need to be able to work with others, but they should also be able to work on their own, especially when they are designing maps. Accuracy and attention to detail are very important in this job, and the ability to concentrate for long periods of time can be helpful. The job is not normally physically difficult, but it may occasionally require going out in bad weather to check the features of a location. In most cases, people can stay in this job until either they reach retirement age, or their eyes become too weak to deal with the kind of details that maps require.
Working as a geographic information specialist can be a good choice for detail-oriented people who enjoy gathering information and sharing it with others. If you enjoy maps and charts, this job might be right for you.
Career Jet. GIS (Geographic Information Systems) Specialist (Hybrid). https://www.careerjet.ca/jobad/cac839737ddcd315ff5cfcfaf4c6b978c0.
Job Bank. “Geographic Information Systems Technician in Canada.” https://www.nl.jobbank.gc.ca/marketreport/outlook-occupation/3493/ca
Ontario Colleges. “”Geographic Information Systems (GIS).” https://www.ontariocolleges.ca/en/programs/energy-environmental-and-natural-resources/geographic-information-systems-gis.
Payscale Canada. “Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Specialist: Salary in Canada.” https://www.payscale.com/research/CA/Job=Geographic_Information_Systems_(GIS)_Specialist/Salary.