Geographic information science (GIS) developers may work in a variety of fields, including commercial organizations, the government, or educational institutions. GIS developers typically work as part of a team of software developers to develop GIS applications and tools and maintain software programs to support the needs of the company and/or clients. Additional tasks may include analyzing land and aerial imagery or using databases to create specialized maps, such as weather, seismic, or population-based maps. Developers may also help clients interpret data, identify trends, and highlight patterns.
GIS developers also provide technical support on GIS programs. They maintain and troubleshoot existing systems, as well as upgrading software. Additional duties can involve project development, management, and budgeting. Many of the GIS developer's work hours might be spent sitting at a desk and a computer.
Computer science, GIS, geography, engineering, or a related field
Optional certifications include GISP or Certified Mapping Scientist, GIS/LIS
Sharp critical thinking skills, strong written and verbal communication skills, ability to analyze spatial data, problem-solving skills, project management skills, familiarity with statistical analysis; programming skills including ASP.NET, MVC, ArcGIS, Oracle databases, SQL, and GIS database design
Although many colleges and universities offer a GIS certificate program that can be completed in 1-2 years, most employers prefer hiring candidates with a bachelor's degree in GIS, engineering, geography, or a related field. Certificate programs are ideal for graduate-level studies, enabling aspiring GIS developers with a degree in a different field to gain the specialized education needed for the career. Certificate and degree programs offer GIS-related coursework, such as spatial design, image analysis, computer programming, social applications, modeling, remote sensing, and environmental applications of GIS. Some programs also offer internship opportunities so students can apply learned skills, such as compiling data and mapping. Additionally, these programs generally introduce students to GIS software, such as ArcGIS, with which many employers require candidates to have experience.
Additionally, consider enrolling in graduate-level study. Earning a master's degree may offer more opportunities for career advancement. Prerequisites vary from school to school, but typically include having a bachelor's degree and a specified grade point average. Some schools require candidates to have some professional experience in geographic information technology or a related field.