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Thread: Positions in GIS

  1. #1
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    Positions in GIS

    Hello everyone,

    This is not exactly an Urban Planner related question, but I'm hoping to get some answers... any help is appreciated!

    I just wanted to know what the difference is between...

    GIS Technician
    GIS Analyst
    GIS Coordinator
    GIS Manager

    Are they ordered in an ascending level of importance/responsibility?
    How many years do you think it will take to move from one level to another?
    What would you say is the approximate salary range for each/any?

    Furthermore, how does one become a GIO (Geographic Information Officer)?


    I really wish I can clearly differentiate and recognize all these titles. Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Suspended Bad Email Address teshadoh's avatar
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    Entry level: GIS Tech performs editing & basic cartographic production.

    2 - 10 years: GIS Specialist / Analyst is the primary GIS developer / project lead. Advanced cartographic production, advanced GIS analysis, programming, database administration, etc. Specialist & Analyst can be used interchangeably, but typically a specialist has 2 to 5 years experience & the Analyst will have more. But this is the meats & potatoes of GIS - where there can be professionals with only a few years experience ranging to professionals with over 10 years experience.

    5 + years: GIS Manager / Coordinator acts as manager of department. The titles vary by organization, a coordinator can be someone that acts as a liason between GIS professionals & staff or Coordinator can act as liason between GIS department & upper management. The GIS Manager will always physically manage the department but it can vary on the Coordinator's role. In most cases though, the Coordinator supervises the Manager. Lastly, years experience varies. 5 years experience is enough for a GIS Manager of a small department or rural county. Typically 10 years is the threshold for a greater responsibility.

    GIO? I'm familiar with the title, but I believe the GIO only exists in very large organizations.
    Pudding will not fill the emptiness inside me... but it will help.

  3. #3
    You'll find that terminology may vary (we don't use the terms "manager" or "coordinator" for example), but I'd tend to rank them, from highest "responsibility," to lowest, as follows:

    Coordinator
    Manager
    Analyst
    Technician

    I've seen coordinator and manager used interchangably for similar job descriptions, and I've seen analyst and technician used interchangably as well. Generally, I feel an analyst is (or at least should be) someone with a technician's level of skills, plus the subject matter expertise to apply it to his or her area of work, such as planning, emergency management, DPW, etc. A technician is the "under the hood, behind the scenes" specialist doing data creation and maintenance. Does it always work out that way? No, but in my fantasy world, an analyst would be able to do all technician functions, and then some.

    Importance and responsibility, of course, are subjective terms. A coordinator may oversee GIS for an entire county, a manager may lead several major projects, but technicians, just like soldiers in a war, are the boots on the ground. Much of my work has revolved around quality control of geographic data products. These products may be the primary dataset for mapping for the next ten years. They may be used to dictate priorities on a multi-million dollar project. Don't think I'm blowing my own horn, because I'm not, but realistically, if I decide I don't care, and I do a half-arsed job... well, think about the consequences.

    Technician pay, where I'm at, starts around 30K, and probably will max out around 40K for the senior folks. GIS Analyst ranges from 46K-58K, according to the class specification. The class which heads up the GIS unit, which could be considered the GIS Manager, makes 60K to nearly 94K. We don't have a "coordinator" position per se, but the "GIS Manager" could be considered the de facto GIS Coordinator. (Not to unduly promote another site, but www.gisjobs.com has a salary survey, it's by no means scientific, but it gives you a nice ballpark for your state or country on what people are making).

    The GIO thing is kind of new. I think we finally got our first GIO in Maryland, what, this month? As to how you become a GIO, our state GIO is a political appointment by the Governor. So, uh... kiss up? Seriously, our new GIO is a great guy, tons of experience, works well with lots of agencies, has a good statewide vision... but why him and not some others? Gov's preference, I suppose.

    But again, your mileage may vary. This is just how things are in my corner of the world. Hope it helps, though.

  4. #4
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    Technician pay, where I'm at, starts around 30K, and probably will max out around 40K for the senior folks. GIS Analyst ranges from 46K-58K, according to the class specification.
    Would it make a difference if the candidate had a 4-year Bachelor's degree as opposed to a 1-year technical certificate?
    In other words, are they both going to start at around 30K, or is the one with the BA considered Analyst and the other, Technician?

  5. #5
    Quote Originally posted by Franq View post
    Would it make a difference if the candidate had a 4-year Bachelor's degree as opposed to a 1-year technical certificate?
    In other words, are they both going to start at around 30K, or is the one with the BA considered Analyst and the other, Technician?
    Maybe, maybe not. Again, your mileage may vary.

    I'm classified as a technician. A 4 year degree was a requirement for my position, as well as our analyst positions. I've seen analyst positions in other places that require only a 2 year degree, or even "significant experience."

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