If you enjoy geography, cartography and analyzing information, then a career as a geographic information specialist is a great option for you.
A geographic information systems specialist is responsible for using specialized equipment and computer software to create geographic maps which contain political borders, transportation networks and environmental resources. They may also have the responsibility of rendering, analyzing, and manipulating a range of geospatial data.
To become a geographic information systems specialist, you should either have a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Geography with an emphasis in GIS, or you should pursue a GIS certificate or diploma program.
If you pursue a bachelor’s degree, consider enrolling in mathematics, economics or business courses to complement your geography coursework, as these subjects put emphasis on data analysis, which is an invaluable skill to have as a GIS Specialist.
In order to be successful as a geographic information systems specialist, it is important to have a certain skill set, including:
Geographic knowledge: Knowledge of a variety of methods for describing the location and distribution of land, sea, and air masses. This also includes their physical locations, relationships, and characteristics.
Written, Oral and Cartographic communication skills: The ability to communicate GIS/spatial information to people without technical skills in this area.
Analytical abilities: The ability to solve problems using the appropriate GIS tools.
Research abilities: Knowing how to find, identify and validate important information.
Information ordering: The ability to correctly follow a given rule or set of rules in order to arrange things or actions.
Systems evaluation: Ability to look at many indicators of system performance, while taking into account their accuracy.
The following types of organizations typically employ GIS Specialists:
• Colleges and universities
• Federal, provincial/state and municipal government
• GIS consulting organizations
• Oil, mining and gas companies
• Private mapping companies
• Self-employment (as a consultant)