How to become a GIS developer
Web GIS mapping
The industry of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) has been around for about 30 years. For most of this time, people have done data viewing, analysis, and cartography via desktop software. But the popularity and power of web applications has changed the need. Now people want to consume their map data via a website or smartphone rather than a printed map taped to the wall. Like any data, the most popular form of GIS is consumed through the web. Web GIS provides flexibility and scalability for different users in different locations to make the decisions they need such as: where’s the traffic, what’s my house worth, and where’s the hotel I am booking. If you’re looking to apply yourself to a growing tech area, it’s easy to see that Web GIS is applicable to many industries.
GIS web developer skills
You are probably one of two types of people that look to be a GIS Web developer. It could be a GIS analyst that wants to add software development skills. Or it could be a computer science major that wants to learn about GIS databases and spatial concepts. A GIS web developer typically works with government or private agencies to design, program, and maintain GIS applications. Here is a list of the most important web developing skills. And it’s easier than ever to find learning tutorials and support. We provided some links to these technologies within GIS project workflows.
- Python: programming language for data analytics
- HTML: standard markup language for structuring a web page
- CSS: a mechanism for adding style to web documents
- AWS: cloud computing platform provided by Amazon
- Esri ArcGIS suite: geospatial objects, tools, and map services
- Noteable mentions: other open source option are Google Maps API, Leaflet, PostGIS
When you learn these skills you are able to put maps in apps. And you don’t need a second degree to become proficient. We know plenty of people in our industry that rolled up their sleeves by practicing on projects using this tech stack and became killer developers.
Web GIS applications
Web mapping applications can be seen in most disciplines: emergency services, health, conservation, urban planning, and defense. If you are new to the GIS field, see a wonderful list of a 1000 GIS applications that your skills could be used for. All the business data you see on a Google Map is a result of some data and web programming. Engineers use Web GIS to plan capital improvement projects to build new roads, utilities, and public buildings. FEMA and local emergency operations centers require decision management through map applications for natural disasters to answer questions like: Where can vehicles travel, where can supplies be delivered, and where can people gather safely? If you go into this area, it will be an interesting career as one day you might work on a site suitability app to map solar farm potential and the next project might be to collect public reporting of where street potholes are. Never a dull day.
GIS developer salaries
GIS developers are in demand as there are not enough people learning this combination of skills. The GIS salary of GIS developers usually range between $52K to $115K. You could be hired by a range of employers like US Forest Service, City of Denver, or Walgreens. As of there are over 26,000 GIS jobs available on Indeed, many of them needing GIS Developer skills (Indeed, January 2022).
There are more than 1000 applications of Web GIS in different industries, and this number is still increasing. The salary of a web GIS developer is also considerable because they are in high demand. Skills are attainable through several sources like an applied online GIS program with a blend of IT skills. To make yourself remarkable, do these three things:
Once you can accurately describe your development steps, you’ll be an attractive hire!