As digital maps become more prevalent, they have also grown more complex and detailed. The geographic information systems (GIS) technician uses geographic data in a wide range of applications, such as creating geographic information systems and databases, reviewing existing cartographic designs for accuracy and detail, and creating specialized map systems from source documents using cartography and design software.
Geographic information systems technicians must possess significant knowledge of geography and the ability to understand engineering and cartography symbols and terminology, as well as the color perception and motor skills needed to produce accurate drafts. Proficiency in computer systems, specifically in GIS and design software such as AutoCAD and ArcView, is also a basic requirement. As the GIS technician must often meet with customers and clients to collect and interpret data, strong verbal and written communication skills are critical. In many cases, GIS technicians are managed by a senior GIS technician, but they often have considerable autonomy in their daily tasks. Work is often done in an office environment, but extensive travel is often required.
Most employers require the applicant possess at least an associate's degree or vocational/technical school equivalent in geographic information systems, computer science, or civil engineering. A minimum of two years' experience with GIS systems may be acceptable as an alternative to formal education.
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Technician Tasks
- Draw maps using automated drafting software, and annotate sources and quality of information layers.
- Transform diverse data into standardized computer input for databases and maps.
- Compile and assess visual information from diverse sources like aerial photos, geological surveys, and satellite images.
- Document new and familiar sources of GIS data, their uses, and quality concerns.