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Updated: Apr 25

What Can You Do with a GIS Degree?

Is a GIS degree worth it? What types of jobs can I get with a GIS degree? Are there alternatives for GIS certification, online programs, and diplomas? YES, there are :)

Because not only will you learn about career options for GIS graduates, but you’ll also find out about earning potential.

If you’re asking these types of questions about a GIS degree or alternatives, then you’ve come to the right place for answers.

Let’s do this.


List of Careers for GIS Degree Graduates

It’s said that you don’t truly know your data until you can see it geographically. Because we can connect information to locations, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is changing the way we do decision-making.

The main functions of a GIS are to create geographic data, analyse it and display it on a map. And this fits the three main career options you can land as a career:

• First, the humble GIS technician creates geographic data.

• Second, the artistic cartographer displays it on a map.

• Next, the analytical GIS specialist and programmers analyse and automate.

• Finally, GIS managers coordinate projects and people.

But there are tons more potential career options with a GIS degree. For example, this table lists typical job titles for GIS degree graduates.

As you can see, positions can range anything from entry-level to senior-level.

Entry Positions

• CAD Drafter

• GIS Technician

• Land Survey Technician

• Survey CAD Technician

• Cartographic Technician

Low to Mid-Range Jobs

• GIS Analyst

• Geodesist

• Geographer

• Cartographer

• GEOINT Analyst

• LiDAR Analyst

Mid to High-Level Jobs

• Senior CAD Designer

• Remote Sensing Analyst

• Geographic Information Systems Specialist

• GIS Administrator

• GIS Developer

Senior Positions

• Survey Manager

• GIS Project Manager

• Senior Geomatics Software Engineer

• Senior GIS Analyst

• GIS Coordinator

• Senior CAD Engineer

• GIS Software Engineer


Typical GIS Employers: Which Fields Can You Work In?

Actually, there are too many to list. But based on job listings, here is a list of typical employers who hire GIS degree graduates:

• Government (Federal, state, and regional)

• Engineering

• Military intelligence, emergency, and public safety

• Agriculture and soils

• Transportation and navigation

• Surveying, engineering, and construction

• Mining and oil

• Health and epidemiology

• Archaeology and history

• Utilities (Electrical, telecommunications)

• Academic

• Environment and natural resources

As GIS is still a relatively new technology, there are thousands of GIS applications waiting to fuse into various industries.


GIS Degree Salary: How Much Money Can You Make?

Like most careers, positions can range from entry-level to senior. At the lower end of the pay scale, technicians and draftsmen typically earn the least. For these types of positions, skills include databases, CAD, and mapping.

As you move into a higher pay scale, there are more specialized jobs. For example, remote sensing and LiDAR analysts are part of the mid-range pay scale. Also, we start to see GIS developers and programmers who create the GIS software that analysts and cartographers use.

At the top of the pay scale, senior GIS positions dominate the salary list.

For example, GIS project managers execute and close projects. Also, senior software engineers have the experience and education necessary to design, develop, and maintain software.

If you have a higher level of education and experience, you are more likely to be at the top of the pay scale and earn more


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