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.
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.
According to Indeed job trends, GIS analysts are less in demand than GIS developers and managers. Often the case, GIS analysts are similar to technicians and specialists with just a different job title. (So you should sum each percent for each role on the line graph below)
But what types of skills do you need to become a GIS analyst? And what is the average GIS analyst salary?
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.
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.
In terms of total jobs, 25% of GIS jobs in the United States have the title “GIS Analyst”
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, web map platforms like ArcGIS Online have really took off over the last couple of years.
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.
DATABASE MANAGEMENT involves storing vector and raster data in a relational database management system. Because database can grow exponentially in size, you may have a role in database development, database administration or any type of asset management consulting.
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 Analyst and Spatial Analyst.
- Non-Esri or open source software includes AutoDesk AutoCAD, QGIS, GRASS and PCI.
GIS analysts are more than just map makers. For example, it’s common to have some proficiency in remote sensing, CAD, programming and database management.
And it’s hard to get away with primarily being just THE GIS analyst in your workplace without having a complimentary area of expertise.
Whether you’re in environmental protection, transportation or military intelligence, GIS is often a skill that compliments the field you’re working in.
Furthermore, it often requires additional education on top of just GIS.
1. GIS Certification Institute (GISCI). (2020. January). Retrieved from https://www.gisci.org/