What is a GIS?

Want to know the best location to set up your business? Where has the local wildfire ignited? Or information about COVID-19 infections in your county? All these questions can be answered with a Geographic Information System (GIS). A GIS mapping system is used widely to show what is happening where. Since all of the data is digital, you have probably used GIS without realizing it within the websites and apps that you visit. An example is checking the location of your Uber driver via the real time map. Scientists, businesses, and the government use GIS widely, so it’s a great skill to have. GIS is a growing industry and if you have experience utilizing it, you could quickly become a valuable GIS analyst. You can read the GIS Jobs Report, 2022 to see analysis on over 22,600 GIS jobs available on Indeed, making it an area worth considering as a career. 

What is GIS mapping?

Most people know GIS as the software you use when you want to make a map. GIS mapping is a system that not only maps data, but it collects, stores, displays and analyzes all types of data as well. The data could come from a satellite, a drone, a smartphone, or an underground sensor.  A GIS combines where things are (known as location data) and what things are like (known as descriptive attributes).  For instance, at this college (point location), the tuition is $18,000 (cost is an attribute).  You can then make a map of all the colleges in your state to see the variability in costs.  If you have data, it can be mapped.

What is GIS used for?

A GIS is usually the central data repository that visualizes complex problems around the world. Scientists and data analysts use it to identify problems, monitor changes, and forecast events that might happen.  Every decision made by an organization is based on priorities that are affected by their landscape, territory, or region.  In order to make decisions it helps to understand trends and spatial patterns that might be a problem.  An example is that a city has $1M to address wildfire fuel removal.  Where do they apply this money?  A GIS helps identify and prioritize high risk areas. 

Many different types of information can be compared and contrasted using GIS. The system can include data about people, such as population, income, or education level. It can include information about the landscape, such as the location of streams, different kinds of vegetation, and different kinds of soil. It has also been used by the health industry to determine the expansion of the COVID-19 pandemic.  GIS can help determine how and where a disease has spread, as well as the percentage of the population it has affected. 

Who uses GIS?

Anyone can use GIS. It doesn’t matter which field you belong to. GIS is used, according to some estimates, by 1.5 million people each day, and by over 400,000 organizations. GIS can be applied by any discipline such as biological, business, health, environmental, and social industries.  As a set of tools, GIS is learned by scientists to analyze their data.  Or you could become the central GIS analyst with deeper experience in knowing data creation and data analysis workflows.  

Pursue a career in GIS

The GIS market generated a revenue of $8M in 2020 and it is expected to grow at a rate of 11.6% over the next decade. You can compete for rising GIS job salaries. With so many uses of GIS, it becomes a skill people seek to enable in their careers. There are a variety of GIS jobs for anyone who wants to pursue their career in GIS. Some of these jobs include GIS technician, GIS analyst, GIS developer, cartographer, and GIS project manager.   The industry continues to grow as tech grows with new mapping applications that utilize the cloud, machine learning, and AI.  So if you love tech,  learning, and variety, then these types of positions often give you great job satisfaction. 

Get certified online

Like most careers, positions can range from entry-level to senior-level positions. GIS technicians typically earn the least using skills in databases, CAD, and mapping. However, job promotion is extremely common as you increase your visualization, cloud, and development skills. All it takes is the right type of education upskilling to raise your salary. A cost effective way is to get a GIS certification in 6 months. Getting certified in these technologies will help you to boost your skills and be more competitive at winning the type of job you can be excited about.





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