GIS Job disciplines

Jobs that use GIS. You’ll be surprised at the variety.

GIS industry outlook

Are you searching for a degree that will make you professionally happy?   Or you might be trying to find a tech skill add-on to your current job experience or degree.  It’s part of re-skilling or a career transition to a stay relevant in the evolving job landscape.  A popular choice is the field of Geographic Information Systems (GIS).  This is because most data has a locational component and eventually will be stored, analyzed, and served through a GIS.  Think Zillow, Uber, or COVID maps.  It’s tripling to an $80B industry by the end of this decade.  Learn the most in-demand GIS skills to make yourself eligible and qualified for thousands of jobs seen in the GIS Jobs Report, 2023.
Book a conversation to talk about your possible GIS career path.
GIS analyst salaries

Job satisfaction with a GIS career

Most people want a job that has meaning.  People often ask me, ‘What do you like about your work?’  My colleagues and I agree that the experiences and types of projects are really varied.  This makes the job interesting because you are not stuck with the same mundane tasks.

  1. Inside/outside.  Your job may put you on a computer or it may put you in the field with a data collecting app.
  2. Networking.  There are some excellent tech conferences to network with others who are mapping local, regional, or global problems.
  3. Learn evolving tech.  You will constantly be learning new software functions and design technical solutions.
  4. Educate others. You will help others understand both technical analysis and the logic of geographic based decisions.
  5. Travel.  You may be dealing with largescale problems and need to work on multidisciplinary teams in other locations such as field study sites or emergency response locations.

Most GIS professionals have the commonality of working on meaningful problems that protect the planet and improve the way of life for people, animals, and habitats.  The good thing is that we can attain this education quickly by getting a GIS certificate online.
Mapping threatened bird species

Standard roles

Let’s start with the standard roles that organizations hire to run their GIS systems.  These jobs are filled with people who really focus on the GIS career track in their education and developing their experience. They are the cogs that make the whole GIS industry run.

  • GIS technicians are responsible for data editing, processing data, and creating maps.
  • GIS analysts are responsible for developing workflows, analyzing data, maintaining quality standards, and serving layers online.
  • GIS developers are responsible for the design of web applications, embedding maps in mobile, and creating dashboards.
  • GIS database administrators are responsible for creating databases, system integration, cloud architecture, and data security.
  • GIS managers are responsible to supervise the team of GIS / IT specialists, present GIS products to stakeholders, and create long term strategic plans.

GIS jobs can be found in any industry

Aside from the core careers in GIS listed above, it’s widely known that GIS is a tool to be used by anyone.  There aren’t any vertical industries where GIS isn’t an analytical component.  Therefore, we hope to inspire you that anyone can learn GIS skills in any industry and provide better understanding to your organization’s issues.  So here is a taste of a few interesting GIS use cases that you might not have thought about. Furthermore, you might want to learn about the 5 reasons GIS job growth will continue to grow.


Archaeology examines the development of historical events through geography, time, and culture, so the results of archaeological research are full of spatial information. And GIS is good at handling huge amounts of data.  Every State has a State Historic Preservation Office where archaeologists use GIS to contribute locations and attributes of protected cultural resources.  For example, an online mapping system in the State of New Mexico, NMCRIS, holds 200,000 records and receives new digital records through a web upload application. It also provides eligible users with site survey information used in the building permitting process.


Walgreens, a company that operates pharmacy stores, uses ArcGIS technology to adapt to market needs. The company uses spatial analysis to understand market demand to adjust store locations and products. For example, if there is an unusual increase in the number of flu prescriptions in a particular location, then workers can order more flu shots in advance.  And most recently, they used GIS to plan for locations and staffing for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

Crime statistics

Every crime is tagged with location. It could be an address, a zip code, or a street. It’s not too far fetched in crime dramas for an investigator to see nearby features that are significant in working the case (the warehouse, the liquor store, or the bike path).  After months of mapping, it can help investigators view and understand potential criminal movements and patterns with precision.  A crime mapping platform makes it very obvious if you are putting police resources at the right times and locations as a deterrent.
Municipal planning
All of our cities are filled with issues that collect data with location.  Your parcel contains owner and tax information.  Emergency services tracks flood or fire risk.  Water department tracks water lines, valves, and water meters.  And any new construction tracks permitting and environmental regulations.  The new term is Smart Cities that account for smart urban growth.  So if you are working in this area, you may have geodesign as a core part of your planning experience or degree.

Real estate

There are companies that have a segment of their consulting business to advise clients on WHERE to make investments or site the next store.  Market analysis is one of the most important steps in a real estate business. Spatial analysis allows real estate agents and sellers to answer geographic questions about the subject property.  Is there appropriate zoning?  Is there a good fit for the demographic and the product?  Is the flow of traffic and customers adequate?  Furthermore, we now see tons of extra information when we do a home property search to find what amenities are in the nearby surroundings.  Building real estate maps is a valuable skills for this industry.

How to learn GIS to get a job in your field?

Learn from vendors like Esri

There are multiple vendors that allow us to learn GIS related skills. For instance, Esri is the largest GIS software vendor with a large suite of applications within its Geographic Information System platform. You can learn ArcGIS from many of their online courses or by enrolling in the Esri certification program.

Focus on project based courses

Bootcamp GIS provides a professional online GIS program for current students, new graduates and existing professionals. The program is  designed to help you find top careers for GIS in the industry. The courses are project based, which means you learn and gain experience from doing real projects rather than a focus on a specific piece of software.

Healthcare map helping patient
GIS for healthcare is instrumental in delivering services.

Conclusion:  Work these tools into your daily projects

The best way to master a skill is to apply what you have learned. There are now very economical ways to learn GIS.  Trial and error is a daily routine in the tech world. General intro courses are good initial exposure.  But be sure to get some deep dive applied education.  So our advice is to practice and focus on practical workflows or project based courses using GIS skills industry is asking for.  You’ll come away with a marketable skill set and a new career!


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