GIS Technician Job Description
GIS technicians utilize Geographic Information System tools to document variables in specific geographical areas. This involves tasks such as supporting GIS analysts with projects and tasks, helping to design and develop databases, and analyzing information to be used in reports and articles. GIS technicians usually work regular business hours in an office environment, though might have to travel to geographical sites to gather data and examine information. In most cases, GIS technicians are managed by a senior GIS technician, though they often have a lot of autonomy in their daily tasks. This job is well suited to people who enjoy problem-solving, have a passion for science and analyzing data, and enjoy working as part of a team on different projects.
GIS Technician Duties and Responsibilities
GIS technicians perform a variety of duties, which change depending on the organization for which they work. Based on job listings we analyzed, a GIS technician’s duties typically involve:
Assessing Visual Information
GIS technicians compile information in the form of aerial photos, geological surveys, and satellite images from a range of different sources, forming the basis of reports and articles.
Performing Data Research
This job involves carrying out data research and verification activities to ensure the information collected is accurate. GIS technicians document new sources of GIS data and quality concerns they may have.
GIS technicians draw maps using automated drafting software, ensuring that sources are annotated and all information is accurate.
Transforming Data into Databases
GIS technicians turn diverse data from different sources into standardized computer formats for use in databases and maps. They incorporate charts, maps, and data files into reports as well.
Troubleshooting GIS Database Issues
Using a variety of diagnostic tools, GIS technicians resolve GIS database problems that arise and provide technical support to end users by helping them implement tools.
GIS Technician Skills and Qualifications
GIS technicians transform complex information into easy-to-read reports and articles. Typically, employers require an associate’s degree and previous experience, as well as the following abilities:
- Analytical skills – to analyze information and data from maps, photographs, and censuses, drawing conclusions from their analyses of different sets of data
- Computer skills – to perform research, manipulate digital images, and create reports
- Critical thinking – to choose the appropriate data, methods, and scale of analysis for each project
- Communication skills – to communicate effectively with coworkers and present their research to team members
- Report writing – to write reports and articles detailing the findings from research and proposals for research funding for future projects
Tools of the Trade
GIS technicians regularly use these tools; those looking to build a career in this field should have a firm understanding of how to use them:
- GIS Tools – GIS Cartography, GIS Analysis, GIS Modeling
- Design Software – AutoCAD, ArcView
GIS Technician Education and Training
The minimum requirement to become a GIS technician is an associate’s degree or technical school equivalent in geographic information systems, computer science, or civil engineering. Employers also typically expect applicants to have a minimum of two years’ experience with GIS systems, which may serve as a suitable alternative to formal education at some companies.
GIS Technician Salary and Outlook
The median annual salary for GIS technicians is nearly $42,000, according to PayScale. GIS technicians in the 10th percentile earn around $32,000 annually, while the highest paid earn close to $59,000 a year. Some companies offer packages that can reach up to $3,000 from bonus structures based on individual or group performances and profit sharing opportunities.
The company and location are the largest factors affecting the pay level for this role; many employers offer dental plans and medical insurance as part of their benefits package. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the growth rate for this sector will be 7 percent through 2026.
We’ve collected some of the best resources to help you learn more about developing a career as a GIS technician:
GIS Lounge – GIS Lounge is packed with useful information related to the field of geographic information systems, with tips, techniques, and resources for the geospatial field. In particular, the site offers tutorials to help users of GIS develop their knowledge of the functionality this system offers.
GIS Fundamentals: A First Text on Geographic Information Systems – This book, providing a great introduction to GIS tools, serves as a brilliant reference for those new to using GIS. Now in its fifth edition, the guide covers a range of topics, including general spatial analysis, raster analysis, database systems, and much more.
GIS Tutorial 1: Basic Workbook – This text provides a great foundation for learning GIS tools and functionality, including interactive maps, collecting data, and how to efficiently run geoprocessing tools.
GIS, Mapping, and Geo Technology Professionals – With over 52,000 members, this LinkedIn group is designed to help GIS professionals network, share knowledge, and stay up to date with the latest technology developments and industry news.
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