Do You Want a Job as a GIS Analyst? Here’s What to Expect

What Does a GIS Analyst do? How Much Money Does a GIS Analyst Make?

gis analysts job profile
Do you want to enter in the exciting field of Geographic Information Systems as a GIS Analyst? If you are a student thinking about building a career in GIS, here is what you can expect as a GIS analyst.

Last Updated: Aug 13, 2017

GIS Analyst Skills, Salary and Description

GIS analysts are well-rounded, tech-savvy spatial individuals with a wide range of skills. Also, they are multi-tasking, multi-disciplinary and fast-on-their-feet.

Companies hire GIS analysts to create spatial data sets, prepare maps and maintain databases. But GIS analysts also often prepare reports, perform research and give a professional opinion.

As a GIS analyst, you are needed in almost every discipline for spatial data management. For example, local and national governments use GIS to manage infrastructure, land records and economic development in a Geographic Information System.

Similar to GIS technicians, this job type integrates well with CAD and engineering.

How do GIS analyst salaries stack up?

GIS analyst salary is dependent on location. For example, urban to rural can differ substantially.

Generally, GIS analysts are entry-positions. After you get your foot in the door, you can climb the GIS career ladder. For example, GIS analysts often transition into management, development or specialized fields like photogrammetry, LiDAR and remote sensing.

GIS Salary Pyramid - Infographic

As you can see in the salary pyramid, GIS analysts are in the 40 – 60,000$ USD range. But of course, it depends on where you are from.

The Pros and Cons of GIS Analyst Jobs




GIS analysts are fairly satisfied with their line of work. Often, GIS analysts enjoy their work diversity. For example, you will rarely be doing the same monotonous tasks week over week. Unless you are in a digitizing type of role, you often create maps, write code and are challenged daily.

As new and innovative technologies pave their way into GIS, this only means more growth in the field. Because of the youth of GIS as a discipline, there are always exciting new developments in GIS. For example, webmap platforms like ArcGIS Online have really took off over the last couple of years.

map image

As a disadvantage, GIS analysts often express dissatisfaction about limited career growth. Unless you move into project management role, there aren’t a lot of other opportunities to pursue. If you want to upgrade your job, you have to learn new skills like GIS programming.

Often, GIS analysts are unhappy with a relatively low salary of pay compared with IT. Because GIS analysts are routinely burdened with a diverse workload and new technology, wages aren’t keeping up.

GIS Analyst Job Duties

Cartography is the study of creating maps. As a GIS analyst, cartography comes in different forms. For example, it could be softcopy mapping, web mapping or digital maps. For these mapping products, you may have to suggest design and quality control/assurance.

When you create mapping products, you use vector and raster data stored in database. Because database can grow exponentially in size, your role is database management. In addition, you may have a role in database development, database administration or any type of asset management consulting.

Spatial Analysis uses techniques to manipulate, extract, locate and analyze geographic data. GIS analysts use geoprocessing tools and data analysis to explore the relationships between map feature. Often, companies develop workflow and GIS modeling techniques for normal business operations. To automating these redundant GIS processes, you may do programming in a GIS analyst career. For example, typical programming languages in GIS are Python, SQL, JavaScript, C++, Visual Basic and Java.

Usually a position on its own, remote sensing is the process of using satellite data to classify land cover. Even if you don’t use remote sensing, you probably will do air photo interpretation or use global positioning systems (GPS).

Finally, surveying and business development are a bit less common. Surveyors accurately measure three-dimensional points on the land. Business development involves project management, technical writing and management.

Example GIS Analyst Tasks




  • Develop and maintain GIS data resources for public access.
  • Assist with data collection with GPS and field collection with ArcPad or ArcGIS Collector.
  • Digitize, create, maintain, display and update GIS databases, coverages, and linkages to various GIS databases.
  • Produce accurate maps and other representations of data for public use and field work activity
  • Ensure data accuracy by going out in the field to resolve conflicts.
  • Record and document details of map updates, additions or deletions.
  • Being proficient with Esri ArcGIS 10x with extensions Network Analyst, 3D Analystand Spatial Analyst.
  • Non-Esri or open source software includes AutoDesk AutoCAD, QGIS, GRASS and PCI.

GIS Analyst Salaries Map

1 Comment

  1. There is also some web mapping and GIS server management and administration that is required of many GIS Analysts. You definitely don’t want to have to wait in the office for someone else to turn something on when staff are waiting for their web maps :-).

    Also, a major challenge in any work environment (and this primarily applies to organizations that have not yet fully developed their GIS potential) is reporting to people who have no clue what GIS is, or how it can best be utilized. If one reports to a manager who thinks that GIS is only used to make pretty paper maps, and that manager is convincing other managers that this is true, well, one’s years of GIS experience and skills will typically go to waste, and the job will be incredibly boring.

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