GIS Specialist Responsibilities, Duties and Job Description

A GIS specialists build and maintain GIS databases, and use GIS software to analyze the spatial and non-spatial information in them. GIS specialists may work under a wide variety of job titles, including GIS Analyst, GIS Technician, and Cartographer. But before talking much on the GIS specialist duites, I need to talk a little bit about GIS.

GIS also called Geographic Information Systems is a computer-based software that allows a GIS specialist to overlay maps and datasets and query them in terms of their spatial relationships to each other. A GIS specialist can load different layers for rivers, creeks and streams, flood maps, and land parcels to determine which homeowners to warn in a storm event.

The Geographic Information Systems is an analysis tool that is used in a wide range of areas, including health, city government, transportation, urban planning, business marketing, geology and archaeology. It’s used to route emergency and fleet vehicles, determine the best places for new wineries and other businesses, and conducting demographic, market, and political research.

GIS Specialist

Duties of a GIS Specialist

The daily activities of a GIS specialist include entering various types of data into GIS databases, such as text or spreadsheet files of latitude and longitude coordinates, tabular data, aerial or satellite imagery, and manual digitizing of paper maps or map images.

GIS specialist also analyzes GIS data to identify spatial relationships, or display the results of analyses; review GIS data for currency and accuracy; document the parameters and context of GIS data; perform geospatial modelling or spatial analysis, and create thematic maps for environmental and educational purposes.

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Most of the GIS specialists use desktop GIS software to analyze data and create maps for internal purposes. However, they’re increasingly involved in launching and supporting online and mobile maps for public consumption. This type of work involves a solid background in computer science and programming. Programming languages like Python or ArcObjects are also used in desktop mapping to automate processes or create customized tools and workflows.

The GIS specialist spends most of their time in offices, some may work in the field, visiting the area they’re mapping to gather or verify data. Most GIS specialists work full time during typical business hours. They may work longer days when doing fieldwork.

GIS Specialists Job Description

The GIS specialist use, run, develop, and maintain GIS systems perform an integral data-collection and analysis function that many other scientists depend on. Duties vary significantly from job to job, but the following list includes typical job duties one might encounter as a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Specialist:

  • Create maps and graphs, using GIS software and data collection equipment.
  • Perform research to obtain and expand existing datasets
  • Gather and report on GIS data and determine how data sets are best utilized through GIS
  • Compile geographic and demographic data from many sources
  • Consult with external stakeholders to access censuses, fieldwork, satellite and aerial imagery, and maps
  • Compile data for statistics to incorporate into documents and reports
  • Build, manipulate, and update databases
  • Enter new map data using cartographic principles
  • Analyze and model relationships between geographic data sets
  • Operate and maintain GIS system hardware, software, and peripherals
  • Present information to clients and stakeholders in verbal or written format
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The typical Job Demand of a GIS Specialist

The employment of GIS specialists has been projected to grow 20 per cent from 2020 to 2032, which is faster than average across all other career occupations. Since it is a small field to start with, this growth will only create about 2,400 new jobs during this period. While demand is high, employers seek out those who have practical experience in addition to education. It’s very important to gain experience as early as possible.

This may mean participating in an internship, or volunteering for nonprofit organizations to build up a portfolio. A solid portfolio, experience, and knowledge of computer programming are key to being competitive in the job market. Web programming will be an increasingly useful skill as online and mobile mapping expands.

Essential GIS Courses and Degrees

GIS specialists usually have a bachelor’s degree in geography, cartography, or surveying. These programs are typically offered by geography departments. However, since GIS tools are used to support a wide variety of disciplines, classes may also be offered as part of engineering, forestry, geology, or environmental science programs.

Many schools now offer minors, certificates, and master’s programs in GIS and other geospatial technologies. However, within the earth and environmental sciences, these offerings generally enhance the skills and credibility of scientists, rather than standing on their own. For this reason, those interested in applying GIS to environmental issues would be wise to develop a broad background in environmental science, forestry, geology, etc., as well as math and computer programming.

GIS specialists can also earn certification as a Certified GIS Professional (GISP) through the GIS Certification Institute. Several states have recognized and endorsed the GISP. The GISP has also been endorsed by the National Association of Counties. Source

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About the author

I am Adegboyega Tunde Temitayo. A registered Town Planner with the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP) and Town Planners Registration Council (TOPREC).

I love to think differently and possibly on various Urban and Regional Planning issues to proffer solutions to Urban and Rural Environmental Problems. You can subscribe to my YouTube Channel

As the Chief Editor of Town Planners Diary, I humbly welcome you to this platform which is about enhancing Planning Education through research on various Town Planning and Environmental issues.

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