Is Online Degree in GIS a good career? 5 reasons why this is a surging sector
1 There are more ‘Geospatial Niche’ companies
If you work in GIS, you have seen tremendous growth in software sales, services, and solutions over the past 20 years. I’ve been one of those who have been thinking for a while that our industry would plateau and there would be a decreasing need in talent and companies in a saturated market. But it just hasn’t happened. You’ll find more young GIS companies are finding their geospatial niche (e.g., UAVs, system integration, social data scraping, or real estate). After further examination, I can see the reasons that the GIS industry continues to grow with more companies coming into the space in places like the Esri business partner program.
2 More data collection sources
It’s in your pocket, of course. Everyone is a crowdsourced data collector. Many apps like Esri Collector are at the forefront of asset management and tracking. Geolocation on phones provides the key attribute to any activity which is important information for consumer to service matching. There are bright people in the coding world catching on to the power of Location Based Services and the majority of apps now know where stuff is. UAVs have also grown into a dominant data collection device for the majority of geospatial service companies. Equip it with a camera or active LiDAR sensor and you have higher resolution imagery than ever before.
3 Cloud Data Distribution
When I worked on geospatial data production for government agencies, a few people would consume it and make decisions. Nowadays, a college student can produce a map that gets consumed by anyone (a la Johns Hopkins COVID-19 map). The time it takes to set up a server and an application has gone from a marathon (more than a year) to a sprint (less than a week). Everybody runs their apps through a GIS cloud application because it’s so easy to start an application on the free tiers provided by AWS, Azure, and GCP. Check out any high school coding hackathon for your future cloud architects.
4 Today’s data explosion needs analysis
We are swimming in an ocean of data. Three years ago was the first time I had heard the term ‘Data Science’. And now you can get a Data Science degree. Information is useless unless you extract the actionable knowledge out of it. This is why we felt so valuable with spatial analysis. GIS is now a subset of overarching Data Science models that are examining and extracting value for all data (spatial and non-spatial). Add to this machine learning which learns from user behavior and changes future user outcomes. We are seeing the commercial sector leverage this by knowing your travel patterns in order to give you products and services. Another example is machine learning for traffic to identify types of vehicles, calculate gas consumption, and minimize wait times.
5 Peer2Peer GIS courses reduce entry time
Is an Online Degree in GIS a good career? Heck yes! Now let’s find ways to learn. You can find over 120 GIS certificate programs in Higher-Ed. But YouTube proves that some of the best experts are those that have recently shared their solution. Bootcamp GIS has seized this concept with a modern GIS certificate with demonstrated SME project-based learning. This platform shows you how to complete a project rather than generically show what spatial analysis tools can do. Like all other technical topics, there are many more sources for learning, like online GIS certificate programs, with a projected 2.5x growth ($1T) of the digital learning industry in the next 5 years.
So it’s evident that growth is in the cards for those companies in the middle of scalable technologies like GIS. It’s a good time to mention to your college or high school family and friends that there are a range of rewarding GIS jobs to be had with large numbers seen in the GIS Jobs Report, 2023. We need more young talent to join the geospatial industry on purpose rather than by happenstance.