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GIS Freelancing: Is It Possible?

GIS Freelancer Feature

Looking for a GIS side hustle? I am not a big believer in GIS freelancing. No guaranteed salary. No benefits. No paid vacation. No statutory holidays. What’s there to like?

With all this trash talk already, could there be a light at the end of the tunnel? Today, let’s look into the world of GIS as a freelancing opportunity.

GIS Freelance Jobs

The demand for GIS freelancing isn’t there. If you already have a connection for a GIS service that you provide, GIS freelancing can be easier to break into. But once you do break into it, word of mouth goes a long way. This is when winning RFPs becomes less of a priority.

It’s not realistic to start freelancing in GIS without prior experience or an established network. Over time, you can build up your portfolio. Know your strengths. A degree or a GIS certification helps. The more, the better.

If you don’t have any connections, where do you start? If you register for Upwork or Fiverr, remember that you’re competing with GIS professionals from India and Eastern Europe. Unfortunately, Upwork also takes a cut so it’s not the most lucrative option.

Upwork GIS

Remote Contract Jobs

GIS Freelancing

Instead of freelancing, why not consider remote contract positions? Since the end of Covid, remote work has gained a lot of popularity. In fact, some companies still prefer it.

Most remote jobs are typically on a monthly basis. But you can make pretty good money doing them. A Bachelor’s degree or GIS certification is often good enough for most companies.

For skills, any sort of coding or development is always a good start. If you are in an Esri environment, learning Python, Arcade, and Javascript are all beneficial.

How To Get Started for GIS Freelance Jobs

The problem with freelance work is that it’s not just the freelance work. But gathering clients is the toughest part. Who are your clients?

Here are some of the best recommendations for potential clients:

  • Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs): These businesses may require GIS services for specific projects. It could be related to market analysis, site selection, or environmental monitoring.
  • Local Government: Smaller municipalities may require a GIS freelancer when they lack in-house GIS capabilities. This could be anything from urban planning to infrastructure management or application development.
  • Researchers: Individuals working on projects, like professors, historians, or researchers, might hire GIS freelancers. They might need custom mapping or spatial analysis to support their work.
  • Consulting Firms: Firms that offer environmental or engineering services might also hire GIS freelancers. This can supplement their team when they require specific GIS expertise.
  • Startups: New companies, particularly in technology, logistics, or location-based services, may hire GIS freelancers. Startups often need help with data analysis without investing in a full-time position.

GIS freelancers can charge anywhere from $30 to $150 per hour. This depends on the work. Typically, lower rates apply to cartography or analysis. Rates increase for programming, development, and complex analysis.

Other GIS Side Hustles

The biggest benefit of GIS freelancing is its flexibility. That’s where GIS side hustles can come into your game plan.

Word of mouth and your network is indeed your biggest asset. But sometimes, it’s possible to find freelance work online without any connections. Here are some of the top options for finding GIS freelance work online:

  • LinkedIn – Find like-minded individuals in a professional online community. Explore freelance work with ArcGIS Pro and QGIS.
  • Etsy – Selling maps online with Etsy is an overlooked opportunity. Not only can you practice your cartography, but you can make some money on the side.
  • Upwork – This platform helps companies find their perfect match for GIS freelancers. Put your skills into action. It could be as simple as embedding maps into WordPress or creating custom maps.

That’s about it for us. This is one article we’d love to hear from the audience. Have you had any luck freelancing in GIS? Please add your questions to our comments section below.