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Thread: GIS and programming skills

  1. #1
    Member
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    GIS and programming skills

    I have an interest in GIS and I am currently thinking about getting an undergraduate degree in either geography or planning and specializing or taking a GIS or geomatics option. I'm actually in university right now but I am not certain yet of a specific program that I want to study. I am just wondering about the kinds of job opportunities that are available for someone who has GIS experience. Are the wages pretty decent for entry level?

    And do you need programming skills in order to move up the ladder or not? Is it possible to get into a senior type managerial position later on without programming experience?

    Part of why I ask this is because I don't really have an interest in computer programming. I have taken some basic intro courses in high school and I didn't enjoy it that much. Right now I'm in the process of completing an intro GIS course in university and it seems like something that I may want to get into as a career.
    Last edited by trevor_879; 13 Nov 2007 at 9:23 PM.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian cch's avatar
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    Machesney Park, IL
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    I only have to know minimal GIS to perform my job. But both my husband and my brother are GIS professionals. Neither of them need to know programming to perform their jobs, but if they did it would open a lot more doors for them.

    My brother has a bachelors in geography, and with that he got a job as a Cartographic Technician for a map-making company called Mapsco. Then he got his GIS Certificate and now works as a GIS Specialist for CDM.

    My husband started out on a completely different career path, but then ended up at a job in a city's public works department where he had the opportunity to learn some GIS on-the-job. He loved it, boosted his knowledge enough on his own and through ESRI training to get a job as the GIS Operator for a municipality. Now, he is getting his GIS Certificate to actually get some formal education in GIS under his belt.

    To see what kinds of other jobs are out there, and what the qualifications are, you might want to check out current openings on GIS Jobs Clearinghouse. Good luck.

  3. #3
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    Town of Brookline, MA
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    I got my bachelor's in geography with a GIS emphasis and my master's in planning. I agree with cch that programming isn't necessary, but it is beneficial. I worked as a cartographer for a number of years, and was able to progress with a basic understanding of programming.

    I found that programming got easier to understand once you could apply it to something you're interested in (like GIS). Most of the intro to programming classes I took had me writing code for tic-tac-toe simulators and other crap I didn't find useful. Once I could apply it to something like an SQL query, it made much more sense.

    As a planner, I use GIS on a daily basis in my job and it saves me enormous amounts of time. Good way to get your foot in the door for many jobs.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Aug 2001
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    South Milwaukee
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    With my last firm, all GIS project managers had strong programming skills. Good group of guys. Too bad they still can turn a profit. :/

  5. #5
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    Thanks for all the comments so far. Helps me out bit by bit.

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