Geographic information systems (GIS) is a term used to describe the collection and collation of various types of data in order to visually represent that data, most often in the form of charts or maps. These systems are used by a vast array of organizations for an even larger number of applications. GIS specialists are in charge of the construction of display material from GIS data, as well as the maintenance, development, and implementation of the hardware, software, and databases needed to accomplish specific tasks.
The specific requirements of the job depend on the nature of the organization and the tasks required of the GIS specialist. Depending on the size of the organization and the scope of the needed projects, GIS specialists may either work alone or as a part of a GIS team. These individuals should possess good interpersonal skills, a cooperative nature, the ability to work on deadlines, a solid set of general computer skills, and abstract thinking ability. Attention to detail is very important in this position. The GIS specialist typically works in an indoor office environment during regular business hours.
To become a GIS specialist, most employers require either an associate's or bachelor's degree in geomatics, environmental science, geography, or a related field; a master's degree may be preferred. In addition, there are certification programs available from the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS) and the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS). Between four and seven years of experience with computer mapping is also a common prerequisite.
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Specialist Tasks
Research and test new data sources, software, and organizational tools.
Create and implement standards for quality of geographic data.
Design, develop, and implement systems and databases for storing and accessing geospatial data.
Standardize and define metadata for geographic data, and track need for data format conversion.