Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 10 of 10

Thread: Need some advice for a GIS career

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Arizona
    Posts
    43

    Need some advice for a GIS career

    I graduated with two bachelor degrees in urban planning and geography in May 2009 and have since been unemployed (living with my family members). I've searched all over from city positions, county, etc. to law firms, among other places. With my geography background, I've taken a growing interest in seeking a career in GIS which I obtained a certificate in at Arizona State. I've begun to self-learn other programs directly related to GIS such as various programming languages. I can't seem to even have potential employers look at my resume after submitting it through an application or other such as email, fax or letter.

    What can I do differently? Can you offer any advice for gaining a position in the GIS field?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
    Registered
    Oct 2005
    Location
    The Gig City
    Posts
    2,656
    Personally GIS isn't something I would make a career on, it's a tool I use often, but it only is one of the tools in my bag. However, there are many things that Arc programs need and I'm sure ESRI will be rolling out new products in the future. ALso some military and mapping companies are always in need of GIS techs.

    Have you seen: http://www.geographyjobs.com/ ?
    @GigCityPlanner

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Apr 2009
    Location
    California
    Posts
    32
    Go on informational interviews. They are invaluable to getting your name out there. If there is a GIS user group or something similar, go to all their events and talk to as many people as possible.

    A lot of GIS people are very social, even though it may not seem that way from the reputation. If you hit if off, they seem to go to bat for you much more often then not.


    Disclosure:
    I just accepted a part time GIS position to hold me off until planning picks up again.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    The Cheese State
    Posts
    9,977
    When desktop computers came along there was a demand for people who were called "word processors". They were basically people who knew programs like Wordstar and Lotus. Then everyone learned how to use Word. Jobs for word processors are gone. The same is true for much of GIS. We have migrated from a period in which technical professionals had to lean on people with GIS skills to complete there work, to a time in which most technical professionals are proficient at GIS. As Tide suggests, don't bank on making GIS a career. Learn a technical application to which you can apply it.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  5. #5
    Member
    Registered
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Southeast
    Posts
    5
    You can try volunteering your services for free to get those first few months of work experience. Do you still live in the town where you graduated from? You can contact your professors to see if they know anyone in local city/county governments or MPO.

    You can also try searching on websites that advertise computer contracting positions, such as Dice[dot]com.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Apr 2009
    Location
    California
    Posts
    32
    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    When desktop computers came along there was a demand for people who were called "word processors". They were basically people who knew programs like Wordstar and Lotus. Then everyone learned how to use Word. Jobs for word processors are gone. The same is true for much of GIS. We have migrated from a period in which technical professionals had to lean on people with GIS skills to complete there work, to a time in which most technical professionals are proficient at GIS. As Tide suggests, don't bank on making GIS a career. Learn a technical application to which you can apply it.
    GIS is MUCH more complex then word processors, so that analogy is a bit off. In addition, you miss concept of a central repository of data, and the aggregation of data necessary for a large GIS environment. Unlike word processing, almost all data used by these 'users' would be created by others. Who? GIS specialists. Word Processing is mainly used as an environment for each user to create his or her own unique data, not use or build upon data already present.

    While in an individual company, the number of specialized GIS professionals may shrink, the number of municipalities and companies and which utilize GIS will increase. The net number of GIS professionals will rise with the increased use in GIS technology and software.

    While normal users can and will be able to do the basic things in GIS, such as buffers, distance, parcel information and zoning information, they can not do in depth analysis with the information contained in the databases. The programming, analysis and maintenance for GIS will be around for a long time. The more municipalities and companies that use GIS, the more databases there are to be maintained. There will be a need for a gatekeeper for these databases, which will stay with a GIS professional.

    In addition, GIS is used outside of the Urban Planning field. The GIS position I just accepted does analysis on data gathered from groundwater testing wells. The data includes groundwater levels, levels of pollution, etc. This type of work will always be a GIS specialist in one way, shape or form. The engineers in the field will not learn GIS, the project managers do not have time to learn GIS.

    The whole sum of the post: There is a bunch of GIS type work out there, even if it means not working directly with planning. Just be prepared to be doing a lot more technical GIS and computer work if you want to make a career out of it. Most likely when moving up the ranks, it will be within the IT or IS department ranks.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    The Cheese State
    Posts
    9,977
    JMplanner, I don't mean to suggest that the need for GIS specialists will entirely disappear, but it will shrink. The database, programming, and related functions you mention are already being handled by IT professionals in most companies. They do not need specific knowledge of GIS, but of a variety of programs. Within the private sector, it is now expected that planners, engineers, and others have the ability to use GIS, CAD, and other programs. Older workers are less likely to know it, but the, their responsibilities are also different than the younger workers who do the more routine tasks. As time goes on, though, you will find ever fewer people who do not know GIS. The market for people solely dedicated to GIS is shrinking all the time.

    Are there examples of GIS applications that require a deeper knowledge than most people have? Yes. For instance, there is a desire on the part of many municipalities to have GIS integrated into their websites. Nearly all of these seek out a consultant to write this application. But that consultant had better have more than GIS in their background. They are more likely to be a web developer who also does GIS, rather than a GIS person who can write the web interface.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Apr 2009
    Location
    California
    Posts
    32
    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    JMplanner, I don't mean to suggest that the need for GIS specialists will entirely disappear, but it will shrink. The database, programming, and related functions you mention are already being handled by IT professionals in most companies. They do not need specific knowledge of GIS, but of a variety of programs. Within the private sector, it is now expected that planners, engineers, and others have the ability to use GIS, CAD, and other programs. Older workers are less likely to know it, but the, their responsibilities are also different than the younger workers who do the more routine tasks. As time goes on, though, you will find ever fewer people who do not know GIS. The market for people solely dedicated to GIS is shrinking all the time.
    I disagree and would argue that the number of people solely dedicated to GIS is increasing rather then decreasing. While dedicated GIS people may seem to be decreasing within the confines of urban planning and municipalities, GIS is starting to be used in a growing number of fields. Analysis of forest and natural resources is increasing through the use of GIS.

    In addition, as I mentioned before, there is a lot of data that needs to be brought into each organizations database. This is not done automatically, as knowing the accuracy and precision of the data is vital. GIS professionals will have to do this, and will be brought in every time there is an issue with projections, layer incompatibility and programming specifics. Scripting within GIS programs is a necessity for any operations beyond simple map making. This does take IT specialty, but must also be fluent in GIS and cartography. The GIS people may be within the IT department, but they will not ever fully merge into a general IT job.

    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    Are there examples of GIS applications that require a deeper knowledge than most people have? Yes. For instance, there is a desire on the part of many municipalities to have GIS integrated into their websites. Nearly all of these seek out a consultant to write this application. But that consultant had better have more than GIS in their background. They are more likely to be a web developer who also does GIS, rather than a GIS person who can write the web interface.
    GIS integration into websites can take on many forms, from the simplistic version of Google Maps with KML files, to ArcIMS server configuration and adaption to writing fully customized display and interaction technology for your data. Simplistic integration with Google Maps can be done by most web developers with an interest in learning. More advanced configuration is more times then not a multi-person job, and will take a GIS professional, and will for some time.


    GIS is much more complex then most people will realize. As a GIS user in an office of non-users, they want magic and they want it in an hour, because it must be so easy to use and get done. Contrary to belief, GIS is a very complex tool that can do much more then just 'make maps.' At times, using GIS in the way most people think about it is akin to dragging a trailer with an space shuttle. It can get the job done, but it can do so much more if people only realized.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian kalimotxo's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2009
    Location
    The Old Dominion
    Posts
    411
    Quote Originally posted by JMplanner View post
    GIS is much more complex then most people will realize. As a GIS user in an office of non-users, they want magic and they want it in an hour, because it must be so easy to use and get done. Contrary to belief, GIS is a very complex tool that can do much more then just 'make maps.' At times, using GIS in the way most people think about it is akin to dragging a trailer with an space shuttle. It can get the job done, but it can do so much more if people only realized.
    So true and so frustrating. Way too many people in the position of delegating GIS tasks know just enough to make their analysts miserable. I hope Cardinal's right that the trend is toward an expectation of GIS competency, if not proficiency, in the planning world. Anyone whose work tangentially involves GIS should at least take a weekend course to learn the basics; something to drive home the point that just because you saw someone somewhere make a specific map doesn't mean it can be replicated on the fly for any given geographic area.
    Process and dismissal. Shelter and location. Everybody wants somewhere.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian TerraSapient's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2009
    Location
    The Glass City
    Posts
    2,610
    IBM is currently hiring GIS Analysts. My friend was just hired a few months ago. I believe they prefer candidates with a graduate degree, though I am not positive. Apparently they are expanding their GIS and Geospatial technologies department?

    He also spoke with a representative at Google Maps, who advised him to get more experience in programming to supplement his GIS skills.

    According to him, learning programming is the way forward. Most big companies are looking for GIS analysts that can create object and commands, thus ArcObjects for VBA may be a useful skill.

    Hope that helps.

    Oh, send your resume to IBM. It appears as though they pay very well.

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Looking for career advice
    Transportation Planning
    Replies: 3
    Last post: 07 Feb 2013, 11:33 AM
  2. Career Advice FAQ
    Career Development and Advice
    Replies: 1
    Last post: 01 Nov 2010, 7:29 PM
  3. Need career advice
    Career Development and Advice
    Replies: 2
    Last post: 26 Aug 2007, 9:25 PM
  4. Graduate school and career advice (was: Advice?)
    Career Development and Advice
    Replies: 5
    Last post: 17 Apr 2007, 12:09 PM
  5. Career Advice
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 6
    Last post: 22 Feb 2005, 9:33 PM