DMTV #8: GIS Jobs and Salary Review

By Joe Francica

Jobs are on everyone's mind. Which regions are employing the most geospatial professionals? How much money are companies paying these professionals? These are key issues, especially for those graduating from school or those considering a career change in the direction of geospatial technology. Editor in Chief Joe Francica provides insights in this episode of DMTV.

DMTV #8 Transcript:

Are you anxious about today's job market?

Feeling like the world is passing you by?

A few weeks ago, Directions Media conducted a webinar on Jobs, the Economy and Education. In case you missed that webinar I want to present a snapshot view of the data. In this episode we'll look at salaries of specific jobs titles, the regions in the U.S. where employment is low and why some of the hot regions like the front range of Colorado have attractive opportunities.

POLL #1 Let's start by looking at two polls that reflect the general job climate and perhaps the mood of some of those currently employed in the geospatial technology sector. This poll shows the employment status of those attending our webinar and by the looks of this poll 66% of the respondents are looking for a job regardless of whether they are employed or unemployed. If we add in the students who are looking as well that is a whopping 84%. I think it's safe to say that the market can be categorized as "active."

And I wanted to show this poll that we conducted at Directions Magazine because it goes towards a sentiment among the broader geospatial community…that is if they had to do it over again, most would have taken up computer programming, a sign perhaps that our technology sector is being driven by product and application innovations and perhaps less by clever marketing, a fact born out just by observing the number of location-based applications in the Apple App Store.

Job Classifications
Now let's look at specific job classifications and these data were provided by Richard Serby of GeoSearch in a salary survey conducted by him earlier this year…and as I said, if you need more details I recommend watching the entire 60 minute webinar or contacting GeoSearch directly.

A GIS Technician: this job is classificed Involved in coding and preparation of GIS projects. They prepare data for conversion and editing and will have knowledge of one or more GIS software solution. The job typically requires a B.S. in GIS, Geography or related and entry level to three years of experience. The median base salary is approximately 40K to $45K

But note that an entry level position these days is often a "paid internship" where the starting salary is about $8-$12 per hour. So, there's no guarantee anymore for a full time job starting out. It's often a job that is at a lower wage and anything but guaranteed to last.

The job of a GIS Applications Programmer / Analyst GIS is a specialist with a strong computer science and programming background through work experience or academic training. Proficient in GIS Macro languages such as AML, MDL, Avenue and others. This person may have training or experience in C/C++/C#/Visual Basic/.NET programming languages and familiar with a variety of operating systems. Typically requires B.S. Geography, Computer Sciences or related and one to five years experience as a GIS programmer or GIS Specialist. The median base salary is typically $55,000-$59,999

At the the Project Manager level this person has technical and administrative skills necessary to manage a project from inception to completion with minimum direction from his/her supervisor. May assist in proposal preparation and presentation. May involve significant client contact. Reviews all technical reports and supplementary information for correctness and format. Typically requires B.S. and/or special project management certification. The median base salary is typically $70,000 - 79,999 base

Where are the jobs? Well the jobs are in places with large government contracts and a high concentration of companies with large geospatial operations like Denver with organizations like the US Geological Survey, GeoEye, DigitalGlobe and others and Huntsville AL, my home state, with companies like Intergraph, NASA and a large supply of government contractors and also the San Jose CA area where companies like Google, Yahoo, and smaller companies like deCarta, TeleNav, and Quova reside. These cities have relatively lower unemployment rates as shown here. These are in effect the "GIS Alleys"

Published Thursday, March 4th, 2010

Written by Joe Francica

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