Geographic Information Science Career Facts
Geographic information science careers include mapping specialists and geographic information systems (GIS) specialists. Read on to learn about related careers, degree programs and salary information. Schools offering General Studies degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
What Jobs Incorporate Geographic Information Systems?
Geographic information systems (GIS) are tools used in a variety of careers, from surveying to mapmaking. Common job titles include geographic information systems technician, mapping specialist and GIS specialist.
A geographic information systems technician helps scientists and other professionals by designing and updating GIS databases as well as analyzing data to determine how geographical elements relate. The Occupational Information Network (O*Net Online) reports that in this job, you'd use a variety of scientific software programs, databases and map creation programs, so adeptness with computers is important (http://www.onetonline.org). You'd also use specialized hardware, like large-format printers, scanners and plotters - machines that print vector graphics.
Mapping specialists, sometimes called geographic information specialists, use GIS to aggregate information from multiple sources before passing the information to a cartographer to create maps, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). These maps may be used in advertising and education or in such industries as surveying and construction.
What Degrees Are Available?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that the most common degree for GIS-related careers is a bachelor's degree. As you work toward completion of this degree, commonly offered as a Bachelor of Science, you can expect to study the geography of many different locations as well as exploring the fundamentals of cartography, or mapmaking. You may be required to complete courses in cultural geography as well, exploring the way that geography affects economics, politics and even populations. Other common courses include computer programming, architectural drafting and surveying.
How Much Can I Earn?
Online salary database Payscale.com notes that GIS technicians in the 25th-75th percentile reported earnings of $30,958-$42,448 in 2011. The site notes that salary can vary by location, with respondents from Tennessee in the 25th-75th percentile having reported earnings of $29,379-$39,206 and those from California having reported earnings of $38,442-$58,594, as of February 2011.
According to the BLS, 62,940 individuals held jobs as surveying and mapping technicians in the United States in 2009. The BLS notes that industries hiring the most mapping technicians were architectural engineering services and local governments.
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