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GIS Specialist Job Description

the gis specialist job description

A Geographic Information Systems (GIS) specialist is responsible for creating, designing, and implementing systems and data to store and access spatial data sets. A GIS specialist also designs maps in both paper form and digitally. Often their work is used to create maps for mobile apps and online access.

So, let’s take an in-depth look at the GIS Specialist Job Description and find out more about this fascinating career.

gis specialist job description

The Skill Set Required

Technical Expert

A GIS specialist must use technology with ease and pick up new roles if needed. For example, they should be familiar with their software, understand how to input data, and know programming and IT-related roles. A GIS specialist is often expected to go above and beyond and be overly familiar with different tech and computer systems.

Read more: What Does a Cartographer and Photogrammetrist Do?


As a GIS expert, you must be familiar with building cartographic output. You will create maps for online use and create clear maps with a purpose.

Scripting Language

Often job posts will include that they are looking for people with coding experience. This means more responsibility is added to being a GIS specialist, and you must have basic skills in Javascript and Python.

Excellent Verbal and Communication skills

You must be able to communicate with your colleagues about projects you are working on and brainstorm together to create ideas.

Highly Detail Orientated

Due to the nature of the job, you must have a keen eye for detail. Working with mapping and databases, there’s no room for error, and you must be extremely precise in your findings.

the gis specialist job description

How Do You Become A GIS Specialist?

You must have a bachelor’s degree in GIS, cartography, computer science, forestry, engineering, or a related field. You should also have knowledge of ESRI ArcGIS software. A GIS certification is a definite plus, so if you can attend a course or major in a class, that will make you stand out.

How Much Does A GIS Specialist Earn?

Depending on your location, your salary can differ. The average salary for a GIS specialist is $63,694 per year. Your salary will also depend on your experience in the field.

Let’s take a look at some of the top-earning salaries focussing on location only:

  • New York City, New York: $99,000
  • Los Angeles, California: $93,350
  • Seattle, Washington: $90,550
  • Chicago, Illinois: $87,000
  • Miami, Florida: $77,450
  • Atlanta, Georgia: $75,700
  • Houston, Texas: $75,150
  • Tampa, Florida: $72,150
  • Orlando, Florida: $71,400

A GIS specialist is a strong career and in high demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted a growth of 35% a year, with a shortage of trained people to fill the jobs. However, it’s not always easy as technology and changes happen rapidly. As a specialist, you must be a tech-savvy, well-rounded person who is intelligent and has excellent IT skills.

Similar Titles

  • Cartographer
  • GIS technician
  • GIS Analyst
  • Photogrammetrist

Hours On The Job

A typical GIS specialist should expect to work a 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday to Friday, in an office. Although due to the pandemic, it is likely you will see these job roles advertised as remote positions. Working remotely has its benefits as your schedule can become more flexible. You are less likely to stick to a strict 9:00 to 5:00.

Where to find jobs online:

Career Opportunities

Once you have gained experience as a GIS specialist, you can look towards promotions to become a GIS supervisor, GIS coordinator, and GIS manager positions.

With considerable advancements in crowd-sourced location data and the demand for drone technology, GIS specialists are developing new innovative solutions in city planning, conservation, and transportation. With a role in more demand, it is an excellent opportunity to expand your skills, and the job market will offer more roles.

Why Is A GIS Specialist An Appealing Role?

The Market is Growing

It is projected that the GIS market will reach a staggering $25.6 billion by 2030. Experts believe this is due to the pandemic and the use of GIS specialists in tracking the virus. Other factors include the increasing demand for self-driving cars, smart home technology, and drone technology.

Many businesses use GIS to make essential decisions that increase revenue and efficiency. Uber is a great example of a company that uses GIS every day. They use it to locate their customers and choose the closest driver to complete the ride. Without GIS, this wouldn’t be possible.

Competitive Salary and More Jobs

It is estimated that the increased demand for GIS specialists will rise to 9.3% over the next ten years. According to Burning Glass Technologies, a university leaver or someone will just a little experience ins GIS can expect an average salary of around $60,158 per year.

However, someone with knowledge in the field can expect an average salary of about $89,925 per year. If you have a master’s, you can look at higher positions and, with experience, earn over $100,000 per year.

A Variety Of Career Opportunities

Whether you want to go into corporate or non-profit, there are GIS opportunities for all. Here are some examples of the roles you can apply for:

  • Public Health
  • Real Estate
  • Retail
  • Telecommunications
  • Government Agencies
  • Gaming
  • Public Health
  • Non-Profit Charities

Additional Career Advice And Info!

This is quite a specialized field, so being the best will take some work. We recommend these outstanding online guides such as the Introduction to Geographic Information Systems, or the Geographic Information Systems: An Introduction, as well as the Agent-Based Modelling and Geographical Information Systems: A Practical Primer.

We also have the and the Geographic Information Analysis, the various GIS Algorithms (SAGE Advances in Geographic Information Science and Technology Series), and finally the Spatial Statistics and Geostatistics: Theory and Applications for Geographic Information Science and Technology, to further your knowledge.

Of course, we also found the ever-popular GIS For Dummies, or try the Image Processing and Data Analysis with ERDAS IMAGINE and the Geospatial Information System Use in Public Organizations: How and Why GIS Should be Used in the Public Sector, along with the Modern Policing Using ArcGIS Pro all available online in 2023.

Final Thoughts

Working as a GIS specialist is a challenging but rewarding role. The job is likely to pay a healthy salary, has appealing office hours, and is a growing field due to the demand for information technology.

The job will require you to attend university, and gaining a master’s degree will also benefit you if you wish to progress quickly.

Good luck with your studies and your career as a GIS Specialist!

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