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Geographic Information Systems Analyst

Learn how to become a geographic information systems analyst. Research the job description and the education requirements and find out how to start a career in geographic information systems analysis.

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Do I Want to Be a Geographic Information Systems Analyst?

Geographic information systems (GIS) analysts work with large databases containing spatial information, such as satellite images and aerial photographs. They might use this information to make maps or develop specialized software. They can also analyze data for scientific, commercial or planning purposes. GIS analysts work on projects as diverse as wildlife management, urban planning and market research. These analysts often spend many hours working at desks and looking at computer monitors. Job conditions may become stressful when deadlines hover nearby.

Job Requirements

Computer skills along with a bachelor's degree in GIS, computer science or geography are the main qualifications for this career. Several professional organizations also offer optional certifications. Other requirements are summarized below:

Common Requirements
Degree Level Bachelor's degree is standard*
Degree Fields GIS, geography or computer science; urban planning, environmental science or related fields can also be useful**
Certification Optional certifications are available from the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing and the GIS Certification Institute**
Experience Varies by employer; 0-5+ years of experience could be required*
Key Skills Ability to think spatially**, good verbal and written communication skills, the ability to work under deadlines, strong organizational and interpersonal skills*
Computer Skills Advanced knowledge of database software, such as Microsoft Access, and specialized GIS software, such as ArcGIS*

Sources: *Monster.com and Careerbuilder.com

Step 1: Get a Bachelor's Degree

A bachelor's degree in GIS, geography or computer science provides a strong foundation for a career in GIS analysis. Alternative majors include urban or regional planning, environmental science, forestry and resource management. These programs can include courses in such topics as remote sensing and geospatial information science.

Success Tips

  • Take some art classes. Art classes can allow GIS analysts to build their visualization skills. They might also help them make more attractive or user-friendly maps.
  • Seek out an internship or complete a project. Familiarity with database and GIS-related software is an important qualification for job seekers in this field. Work experience with nonprofit organizations or government agencies could help students learn to use the technical tools of the trade.

Step 2: Gain Work Experience

Bachelor's degree program graduates, especially those who've acquired the necessary computer skills, can generally qualify for entry-level positions in a variety of industries. According to August 2012 job listings, employers as diverse as a media conglomerates, risk management firms and military contractors advertised for entry-level GIS analysts to assist with tax research, map fire-related risk information and manage databases for the U.S. Army.

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What is White Supremacy? by Elizabeth Martínez
copyright Elizabeth Martínez, February 1998.
*Workshop Definition* White Supremacy is an
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