GIS Salaries: Which skills get you higher pay?
GIS jobs in a growing market
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, geospatial technology is considered a high growth industry at 35% CAGR. There is lots of funding, a wide variety of employers, and many in-demand jobs. But you need to look at which roles and skills are in high demand. We have assessed that the best income earning opportunities are in the enterprise GIS roles. That is, those roles that setup and maintain mapping systems. The architect, programmer, data scientist, or database guru is your indispensable person. These roles plays a large decision-making role in many important areas such as homeland security, disaster planning, public health, environmental planning, and utilities. Read the GIS Jobs Report, 2023 to see that these GIS roles command a higher GIS salary.
In the geospatial technology job market within the United States we can expect to see a compensation that can range from $40,000 to $155,000 per year. Here are the typical salary ranges:
- GIS Manager $50-$130k
- GIS Developer $52-$115k
- GIS Database Architect $74-$155k
- GIS Analyst $40-$75k
We tabulated 2021 data from Indeed and GIS Jobs Clearinghouse where you can go to find job announcements in your area.
The lower level GIS skills
You must be adept with GIS software, data, and analytic processes to be a professional in this field. The leading software vendors that make GIS software are Esri and Autodesk. But there are a couple thousand companies that develop offshoot products that may require specific knowledge. Typically you would use this software to produce maps, tables, reports, models, and data layers. You would learn:
- Data loading
- Data query
- Data editing
- Data analysis
- Cartographic layouts
- Data export
These skills are taught in all geography departments and all GIS certificate programs. You can find some of these classes inexpensively at your local community college.
The higher level GIS skills
But the skill of making a single map is becoming less popular. This is because cloud and mobile are the places you now store and consume GIS data. Therefore, your skills need to have a new focus on IT skills. This may include:
- Programming in Python
- Database administration
- System integration
- Cloud architecture
- GIS web development
- Data automation
- Machine learning
Here is an excellent example course that shows you Python, Map Serving, and AWS all in the same project: Learn Python and ArcServer.
Find online courses that offer microcredentials
These higher level skills are not usually taught in a geography department and sometimes not even in a computer science department. The good news is that you can learn a lot of these skills through online courses at places like these:
- AWS certificate in cloud architecture
- Bootcamp GIS certificate with SME instructors promoting a career in GIS
- Coursera data science technical certificates
- Trilogy Education coding bootcamp
These excellent sources for bootcamps and GIS certificates will make your portfolio shine. Find your way to these technologies and you find your way to a job with a higher GIS salary and a career with meaning.