Geographic Information Systems Technologist or Technician Career Guide 2024

Table of Contents

Geographic Information Systems Technologist or Technician Salary in United States for 2023

Average Annual Salary: $98,740 Hourly Rate: $47.47

Data sourced from the U.S. Department of Labor via the ONET Web API. Updated at December 8, 2023

Best Colleges and Universities for Geographic Information Systems Technologist or Technicians in 2023

Best College Majors for Geographic Information Systems Technologist or Technicians in 2023

Projected Job Employment for Geographic Information Systems Technologist or Technician:

Estimated YearProjected YearEstimated EmploymentProjected Employment% ChangeProjected Annual Job Opening

Geographic Information Systems Technologist or Technician Career Path Overview

The Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Technologist or Technician career path offers a multitude of opportunities in a rapidly evolving field. As GIS professionals, technologists and technicians work with geographic information systems to capture, store, analyze, manage, and present spatial or geographic data.

Education Requirements

A career as a GIS Technologist or Technician typically begins with a bachelor's degree in geography, computer science, engineering, or a related field. Many universities offer specialized GIS programs that provide a comprehensive understanding of the technology, data analysis, and spatial patterns involved. Some professionals may also opt for advanced degrees such as a Master's or PhD in GIS or related fields to further enhance their expertise and career prospects.

Certifications and Training

In addition to formal education, certain certifications can validate your skills and knowledge in the GIS field. The Geographic Information Systems Professional (GISP) certification offered by the GIS Certification Institute is one such credential. Other valuable certifications include the Esri Technical Certification and the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) Certification. Training in specific GIS software like ArcGIS, QGIS, and ERDAS Imagine can also be beneficial.

Skills Needed

To excel as a GIS Technologist or Technician, you should possess strong analytical skills to interpret and analyze spatial data effectively. Proficiency in database management, programming languages like Python or SQL, and GIS software is crucial. In addition, problem-solving skills, attention to detail, and the ability to visualize concepts and data are important traits for success in this role.

Job Roles and Responsibilities

As a GIS Technologist or Technician, your responsibilities may involve creating and maintaining GIS databases, conducting spatial analyses, producing maps and other visual representations of data, and integrating GIS with other technologies. You may also be involved in designing and managing GIS projects, training users, and troubleshooting system issues.

Career Progression

The career progression for a GIS Technologist or Technician can be quite diverse. Entry-level roles often involve data collection and analysis, while mid-level positions may require project management and system design. Senior roles could involve strategic planning, policy development, or managing a team of GIS professionals. Some GIS Technologists or Technicians may also choose to specialize in areas such as remote sensing, geospatial intelligence, or environmental modeling.

Job Outlook and Salary

The job outlook for GIS Technologists and Technicians is promising, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting a faster than average growth rate for this field. The median annual wage for GIS professionals is also competitive, with potential for higher earnings with experience and advanced education. Overall, a career as a Geographic Information Systems Technologist or Technician presents a unique blend of technical skills and spatial understanding, offering exciting prospects in various industries including government, environmental services, urban planning, and transportation.

Geographic Information Systems Technologist or Technician Career Path Education and Training

The journey towards becoming a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Technologist or Technician often begins with a solid educational foundation in the field. This role is highly technical and requires a strong understanding of both computer systems and geographic data.

Academic Requirements

In most cases, employers require that GIS Technologists and Technicians have at least a Bachelor's degree. Popular fields of study include geography, computer science, engineering, or a related discipline. Coursework often includes classes in physical geography, cartography, remote sensing, photogrammetry, and computer programming. Some schools offer specific degrees or specializations in Geographic Information Systems. These programs provide a more targeted education and can give candidates an edge in the job market. They typically cover topics like spatial analysis, data management, and GIS software.


In addition to a degree, many GIS Technologists and Technicians choose to earn professional certifications. These are not typically required, but they can demonstrate a high level of competence and commitment to the field. The GIS Certification Institute (GISCI) offers the Certified GIS Professional (GISP) designation, which requires a combination of education, professional experience, and contributions to the profession.

Continuing Education and Training

Due to the rapidly evolving nature of technology, GIS Technologists and Technicians must continually update their skills. This can be done through on-the-job training, workshops, seminars, and continuing education courses. Many professionals also stay up-to-date by attending industry conferences and reading relevant publications.

Internships and Work Experience

Practical experience is crucial in this field. Many aspiring GIS Technologists and Technicians gain experience through internships or entry-level positions. These opportunities allow individuals to apply their knowledge in real-world situations and develop essential skills, such as problem-solving, data analysis, and project management. To summarize, the path to becoming a GIS Technologist or Technician involves a combination of education, certification, continuous learning, and hands-on experience. By investing in these areas, individuals can equip themselves with the skills and knowledge needed to excel in this dynamic and rewarding career.

Geographic Information Systems Technologist or Technician Career Path Progression

The career path progression of a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Technologist or Technician is diverse and multi-faceted, offering numerous opportunities for growth and advancement. This path often begins with entry-level positions, progresses through mid-level roles, and culminates in senior or managerial positions. Let's delve deeper into these stages of development.

Entry-Level Roles

Beginning a career as a GIS Technologist or Technician often starts with entry-level roles such as a GIS Analyst or Junior GIS Specialist. These positions typically involve tasks like data collection, map creation, spatial analysis, and basic database management. A significant part of these roles includes learning to use GIS software and tools effectively. To qualify for entry-level roles, individuals usually need a bachelor's degree in geography, geomatics, computer science, or a related field. In addition, some foundational knowledge of GIS principles and techniques, which can be gained through coursework or internships, is often required.

Mid-Level Roles

With several years of experience and a proven track record in GIS technology, professionals can progress to mid-level roles such as GIS Technologist, GIS Consultant, or Project Manager. These roles often involve more complex tasks such as developing GIS applications, designing spatial databases, managing GIS projects, and providing technical support. Mid-level roles may require advanced technical skills, including proficiency in multiple GIS software packages and programming languages. Additionally, these positions often demand excellent problem-solving skills and the ability to work well in teams.

Senior-Level Roles

Senior-level roles in the GIS field include positions like Senior GIS Analyst, GIS Manager, or Director of Geospatial Services. In these roles, professionals are responsible for overseeing all GIS operations within an organization. They might manage teams of technicians and analysts, develop strategic plans for GIS implementation, and ensure the quality of GIS data and products. For these senior positions, a master's degree in GIS or a related field can be beneficial. Additionally, extensive experience in the field, leadership skills, and a comprehensive understanding of GIS applications in various industries are often required.

Specialization Opportunities

As GIS professionals advance in their careers, they also have the opportunity to specialize in specific areas of GIS technology. These can include remote sensing, cartography, geospatial data science, environmental modeling, and more. Specialization can provide additional opportunities for career advancement and enable professionals to become experts in their chosen area. In conclusion, the career path progression for a GIS Technologist or Technician is both rewarding and challenging, offering numerous opportunities for professional growth and specialization. Whether you're just starting out or looking to advance in your career, the field of GIS offers a wide range of opportunities to develop your skills and make a significant impact in numerous industries.

Geographic Information Systems Technologist or Technician Career Path Specializations and Subfields

The field of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) encompasses a wide range of specializations and subfields, offering numerous career opportunities for technologists and technicians. In this section, we delve into some of the primary specializations within the GIS sector, each with its unique set of skills, tasks, and career development paths.

Cartography and Geovisualization

Cartography is the science of creating maps, a key aspect of GIS. As a GIS technologist or technician specializing in cartography and geovisualization, you would be tasked with translating complex geospatial data into easy-to-understand visual formats like maps and charts. This specialization demands proficiency in spatial analysis, design principles, and map-making software.

Geospatial Data Analysis

Geospatial data analysis involves using statistical techniques to interpret geographic data and discover patterns or trends. A GIS technician in this field might work in industries like urban planning, environmental management, transportation, or marketing. They would need strong analytical skills, knowledge of statistical software, and an understanding of spatial databases.

Remote Sensing

Remote sensing is the acquisition of information about an object or phenomenon without making physical contact with the object. In GIS, it often refers to using satellite or aerial sensor technologies to collect data. GIS technologists in remote sensing handle tasks such as image processing, interpreting aerial photographs, and managing satellite data.

Geospatial Programming

Geospatial programming is another lucrative specialization in the GIS field. It involves writing code to automate geospatial processes and manipulate geospatial data. Proficiency in programming languages like Python or JavaScript and an understanding of GIS software are essential for this role.

Environmental GIS

Environmental GIS specialists use geographic information system technology to analyze environmental data and address ecological issues. This specialization often involves working closely with conservation organizations, government agencies, or consulting firms.

Urban Planning and Community Development

GIS technologists and technicians in urban planning and community development use geospatial data to aid in the design and management of communities. They assist in planning infrastructure, managing land use, and analyzing demographic data. Each of these specializations offers a unique career path for GIS technologists or technicians, allowing them to apply their skills in different contexts and industries. Whether you are interested in creating visually engaging maps, interpreting complex geospatial data, or aiding in community development, there is a GIS specialization for you.

Geographic Information Systems Technologist or Technician Career Path Job Market and Outlook

The job market outlook for Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Technologists and Technicians is promising, with a strong growth trend projected for the coming years. This is largely due to the increasing use of GIS technology across various industries, including urban planning, transportation, environmental science, and more. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of GIS professionals is expected to grow by about 7% from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations. This indicates a strong demand for these professionals as organizations continue to harness the power of geospatial data and technology in their operations. A significant factor contributing to this growth is the increasing demand for spatial data and digital maps in various sectors. In the public sector, for example, urban planners and local authorities use GIS technology to plan infrastructure development, manage natural resources, and respond to emergencies. In the private sector, businesses leverage geospatial data for site selection, market analysis, logistics planning, and other strategic decisions. Moreover, advancements in GIS technologies such as 3D modeling, cloud-based GIS services, and integration with Internet of Things (IoT) devices are creating new opportunities for GIS Technologists and Technicians. These professionals are at the forefront of using these technologies to solve complex problems and create valuable solutions. To capitalize on these opportunities, aspiring GIS Technologists and Technicians need to equip themselves with the necessary skills and knowledge. This includes proficiency in GIS software applications like ArcGIS, ability to manage and analyze spatial data, understanding of cartography principles, and knowledge of database management. In addition to technical skills, soft skills such as problem-solving ability, attention to detail, and good communication skills are also important in this career. These skills help GIS professionals to effectively interpret geospatial data, collaborate with team members, and present their findings to non-technical audiences. In conclusion, the job market outlook for GIS Technologists and Technicians is bright, driven by the growing use of GIS technology in various sectors and advancements in geospatial technologies. By acquiring the necessary skills and knowledge, these professionals can look forward to a rewarding career with ample opportunities for growth and development.

Geographic Information Systems Technologist or Technician Career Path Salary and Compensation

As a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Technologist or Technician, your salary and compensation can vary widely based on a number of factors. These can include your level of education, the amount of experience you have in the field, the sector in which you work (public or private), and the geographic location of your employment. Generally, entry-level GIS Technologists or Technicians can expect to earn a salary ranging between $40,000 to $50,000 per year. However, with more experience and specialization in the field, this figure can significantly increase. According to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for surveying and mapping technicians, which includes GIS Technologists or Technicians, was $45,010 in May 2020.

Experience Impact on Salary

As with most professions, experience plays a crucial role in determining salary for GIS Technologists or Technicians. Those with several years of experience in the field, particularly those with expertise in certain areas such as data analysis, project management, or advanced software applications, can command higher salaries. For experienced professionals, salaries can range between $60,000 to over $100,000 per year.

Education Impact on Salary

Your level of education can also influence your earning potential as a GIS Technologist or Technician. While an associate degree may be sufficient for some entry-level roles, many employers prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree in geography, GIS, or a related field. Advanced degrees such as a master's or PhD can further increase your earning potential.

Sector Impact on Salary

The sector in which you work also has an impact on your salary as a GIS Technologist or Technician. Those working in the private sector, particularly in industries such as oil and gas, technology, or consulting, often earn higher salaries compared to those in the public sector. However, public sector roles often come with additional benefits such as job security and pension plans.

Geographic Location Impact on Salary

The geographic location of your employment can also influence your salary as a GIS Technologist or Technician. Salaries tend to be higher in urban areas where there is a higher demand for GIS services. Additionally, cost of living adjustments can also play a role in salary differences across different regions. In conclusion, while there are many factors that can influence the salary and compensation of a GIS Technologist or Technician, the field offers competitive salaries and opportunities for advancement. With continued growth in the use of geographic information systems across various industries, the demand for skilled GIS professionals is expected to remain strong.

Geographic Information Systems Technologist or Technician Career Path Tips for Success

Pursuing a career as a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Technologist or Technician requires not only academic knowledge but also practical skills and a strategic approach. Here are some tips to help you succeed in this dynamic and growing field.

Obtain the Right Education

While some GIS roles require a bachelor's degree, others may only need an associate degree or specific certification. Generally, degrees in geography, computer science, engineering, or related fields can provide a solid foundation. A master’s degree or higher in Geographic Information Systems can offer advanced knowledge and skills that can make you more competitive in the job market. Additionally, obtaining certifications such as the GIS Professional (GISP) or Esri Technical Certification can validate your expertise in the field.

Gain Practical Experience

Hands-on experience is crucial for success in the GIS field. This could be gained through internships, part-time jobs, or even volunteering opportunities. Working on real-world projects can help you understand how to apply theoretical knowledge, use GIS software and tools effectively, and resolve common challenges in the field.

Stay Updated with Technology

The GIS field is continually evolving with new software, tools, and technologies emerging regularly. It's essential to stay updated with these changes by attending seminars, workshops, webinars, or online courses. Familiarize yourself with popular GIS software like ArcGIS, QGIS, and Google Earth Pro.

Develop Soft Skills

Technical skills are crucial, but don't overlook the importance of soft skills. Abilities like problem-solving, critical thinking, communication, and teamwork are highly valued in the GIS field. These skills can help you work effectively with diverse teams, present your findings to non-technical stakeholders, and find innovative solutions to complex geographical problems.

Networking and Professional Development

Networking is a powerful tool for career growth. Join professional organizations like the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) or the North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS). Attend GIS conferences, seminars, and workshops to connect with industry professionals, learn about the latest trends, and discover potential job opportunities.

Keep a Portfolio of Your Work

A portfolio showcasing your GIS projects can demonstrate your skills and experience to potential employers. Include examples of maps, data analysis reports, and any innovative GIS solutions you've developed. This can provide tangible proof of your abilities and set you apart from other candidates. By following these tips, you can enhance your skills, stay competitive, and navigate a successful career path as a Geographic Information Systems Technologist or Technician.

What is a Geographic Information Systems Technologist or Technician?

A Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Technologist or Technician is a specialist who leverages technology to gather, analyze, and interpret geographic data. They work with GIS tools and software to create spatial maps and visualizations, aiding in various industries like urban planning, environmental science, transportation, and more. Their work enables decision-makers to comprehend complex data sets effectively, helping them make informed decisions based on geographical factors.

What Does a GIS Technologist or Technician Do?

GIS Technologists or Technicians interpret and display data related to positions on the Earth's surface. They collect geographic data from various sources, including censuses, field observations, satellite imagery, aerial photographs, and existing maps. These professionals use GIS software to present this data in a digital format, often creating comprehensive "layers" of information that can be superimposed to give a more complete spatial picture. They also maintain databases and ensure the accuracy of collected data.

What Skills are Required for a GIS Technologist or Technician?

GIS Technologists or Technicians need a solid foundation in computer science and geography. Key skills include proficiency in GIS software (like ArcGIS), strong analytical skills for interpreting spatial data, problem-solving capabilities for troubleshooting technical issues, and attention to detail for ensuring data accuracy. Additionally, communication skills are vital as they often need to explain their findings to non-technical stakeholders. A good understanding of cartography, remote sensing, and data visualization is also beneficial.

What Education is Needed to Become a GIS Technologist or Technician?

Most GIS Technologist or Technician roles require a bachelor's degree in geography, geomatics, environmental science, computer science or a related field. Some positions may require a master’s degree, especially for more complex analytical roles. Many institutions also offer certificate programs in GIS, providing practical training on the latest GIS software and tools. Continuing education is important in this field due to the rapid evolution of GIS technology.

What is the Career Outlook for GIS Technologists or Technicians?

The career outlook for GIS Technologists or Technicians is promising. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 7% growth rate in this field from 2018-2028, faster than the average for all occupations. This growth is driven by the increasing use of spatial data and GIS technology across various sectors, including government agencies, private companies, and non-profit organizations. Professionals with advanced degrees and experience with software such as GIS have the best job prospects.

What is the Average Salary of a GIS Technologist or Technician?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for cartographers and photogrammetrists, which includes GIS Technologists or Technicians, was $65,470 in May 2019. However, salaries can vary significantly depending on factors such as location, level of experience, education, and the specific industry in which they work.