There are many new uses of GIS beyond geography and biology. Your GIS skills are in high demand by a range of industries such as insurance and telecoms. GIS is now part of everyday business.
Many industries using GIS apps, however, are not using the technology to its fullest potential. Often the people employed are not geographers and they don’t understand the geographic principles underlying the technology. Industry has little understanding of what a skilled GIS technologist actually has to offer.
For an overview of the role of GIS read Prospects GIS Officer Profile.
“As a geographical information systems officer, you'll need sharp observation and good project management skills to combine working in the field with analytical work in the office”
With the rise of Big Data, many companies are analysing data using off-the-shelf GIS apps (cheaper than developing their own system) and this is a potential employment goldmine for any geographers who are able to change mindset and adapt their GIS skills to a new commercial environment.
To give this some context, take the example of getting a quote for house insurance. There are around 100 data points used to make a decision such as flood risk, mine shafts etc. Accurate mapping is essential, but producing a map based on postcodes is not easy as there are many different ways to enter a postcode. Someone with a GIS background would understand this and would make the mapping process accurate.
Understanding the spectrum of GIS technology, choosing the right tool to use at the right time and having the ability to change the script and adapt an app for the task in hand is key. For this, you require some low-level programming ability and excellent communication skills. Sitting with the customer, listening to their needs and having the business acumen to understand the company and the questions they are hoping to answer is key. Then, of course, you need to be able to look into the core of the app and adapt the GIS technology to meet their need is the skill of a GIS developer.
Water Companies: Converting original paper maps to GIS datasets, in order to record the location of water pipelines.
Local Authorities: Estimating the number of people potentially affected by flooding. Capturing the location of 'assets' such as bridges and streetlights.
Education Authorities: Using population growth figures and planning information to estimate increasing/decreasing demand for school capacity.
Retail (e.g. Tesco): Calculating the number of potential customers for a new supermarket. Predict the buying patterns based on socio-economic factors.
Construction Industry: Relating physical information (e.g. the location of properties, quality of land, and placement of utility cables).
Health Sector: Anticipating healthcare needs of the population.
Utility Companies (e.g. Shell): Planning the location of pipelines.
Insurance (e.g. AA): Calculation of risk.
Think of GIS in its broadest sense, think how useful it could be to market research and advertising agencies, to the Defence sector or Humanitarian aid and even Leisure services; all could benefit from your GIS skills. You can target a sector by highlighting your GIS skills on your CV. For an overview of each sector go to Prospects Job Sectors.
You can target a sector by highlighting your GIS skills on your CV. For an overview of each sector go to Prospects website.
If you have any of the following skills, then make sure you make the most of them in your applications and CV:
An internship or other relevant work experience can improve your chances of securing a graduate role.
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