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GIS Technicians: What to Expect in an Entry-Level GIS Technician Job?

gis technician job profile

GIS Technician Job Skills, Salary and Description

While Geographic Information Systems continues to expand in countless fields, companies are hiring GIS technicians to manage their geographic data.

Strangely, GIS technician jobs are associated with a lot of ‘grunt work’. For example, GIS technician jobs seem to indicate a lot of digitization, collecting data, creating simple maps, and maintaining GIS data.

Furthermore, these positions are typically more for entry-level employees, because they don’t often require significant research experience, the ability to do advanced programming, or higher education

However, GIS technicians are fairly satisfied and are constantly challenged by advances in GIS technology. This means they can grow into disciplines such as cartography, database management, programming, and spatial analysis.

According to Indeed job trends, GIS technicians are less in demand than GIS developers and managers. Often the case, GIS technicians are similar to analysts and specialists with just a different job title. (So you should sum each percent for each role on the line graph below)

gis technology jobs trends

But what types of skills do you need to become a GIS technician? And what is the average GIS technician salary?

How much do GIS technicians make for salary?

GIS technician salary is dependent on location. Especially, comparing rural and urban areas, the typical GIS technician salary can range tens of thousands of dollars.

In this geography salary infographic, we list the average salary in the United States on an annual basis.

GIS Salary Pyramid - Infographic

But how much money do GIS technicians make around the globe?

Using 2015 data, we’ve produced a world map depicting how much GIS technicians make in different currencies.

Scroll to the bottom of this article to see those amounts.

READ MORE: GIS Salary Expectations: Climb the GIS Career Ladder

What Do GIS Technicians Do?

If you’re graduating from school and entering university, you’re probably wondering what the typical day is like for a GIS technician.

Really, it could range quite a bit.

While some GIS technicians continuously digitize (essentially draw on the computer) week-over-week, some perform spatial analysis.

IDW Search Radius

Your employer will decide the GIS software you’ll use. Esri ArcGIS and open source QGIS are quite popular. You probably will make several maps which will be reviewed and critiqued.

QGIS Atlas

If you’re going to produce maps, GIS technicians should be knowledgeable with map projections and cartographic principles.

Robinson Projection - Compromise

Lastly, if your employer has crews that collect data in the field, you will likely be the person to set up their GPS. It’s good to have knowledge in how a GPS works.

They are fairly satisfied with their line of work. But it depends entirely on what tasks you are assigned as a GIS technician.

There are always new and innovative technologies paving their way into GIS. Because of the youth of GIS as a discipline, the exciting new developments in GIS are exciting.

A disadvantage is limited career growth. Unless you move into a project management role, there aren’t a lot of other opportunities to pursue.

Another complaint is the relatively low pay compared with IT. Because GIS technicians are burdened with a diverse workload and new skills and technology being implemented routinely, wages aren’t keeping up.

GIS Technician Job Duties

What are some of the daily tasks of a GIS technician?

map image

CARTOGRAPHY is the study of creating maps. The origin comes from charta – “tablet or leaf of paper” and graph – “to draw”. (GIS Cartography, Information Management, Softcopy Mapping, Web Mapping, GIS Mapping, ArcGIS Map Design, Quality control/assurance)

DATABASE MANAGEMENT offers insight on how to store and extract information from structured sets of geographic data. (Database Development, Data Management, Database Administration, Data Management Services, Asset Management Consulting)

SPATIAL ANALYSIS uses techniques to manipulate, extract, locate and analyze geographic data. Spatial analysis examples include buffering, clipping, and exploring the relationships between map features. (GIS Analysis, GIS Modeling, Data Integration & Conversion, Data Analysis, Geocoding, Geomatics)

READ MORE: Free Esri Training Courses and MOOC

Complimentary GIS Technician Job Duties

PROGRAMMING helps student writing code and automating redundant GIS processes. Typical programming languages in GIS are Python, SQL, C++, Visual Basic, and Java. (GIS Programming, Web Development & Design, Software Application Development)

REMOTE SENSING involves satellite or aerial imagery to map the Earth. Remote sensing is the study of attaining data without physically being there. (Remote Sensing Analysis, Satellite/Air photo Interpretation, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), Soil Classification)

SURVEYING measures the physical and geometric characteristics of Earth. Surveyors accurately measure three-dimensional points on the land. (Data Collection, Topographic Surveys, CAD 2D/3D)

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT (Project Management, Technical Writing & Editing, Business Management, Data Science)

Example GIS Technician Tasks

What skills do GIS technicians require?

  • Assist with development and maintenance of GIS data resources to be utilized for public access of geographic data.
  • Assist with the data gathering and compilation, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), GPS, mapping, and data analysis.
  • Perform varied data gathering and entry to create, maintain, display and update Geographic Information Systems databases, coverages, and linkages to various GIS databases.
  • Produce accurate maps and other representations of data for public use and field work activity
  • Go out in the field to visually locate items to resolve conflicting information and ensure the accuracy of data.
  • Record and document details of map updates, additions and/or deletions.

GIS Technician Salary Map

Accompanying Software

Esri ArcGIS 10x with extensions Network Analyst, 3D Analyst, Spatial Analyst. ArcGIS Server and ArcPad.

Non-Esri software includes AutoDesk AutoCAD, QGIS, GRASS, and PCI.

One Comment

  1. Thank you for the insight. I have post graduate certificates in GIS & Remote Sensing. I am currently working as a Fixed Assets Officer. Is there a significant or growing link between the two?

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