GIS Job Outlook 2002

By Andrew Ratzlaff

Andrew S.Ratzlaff, Senior Partner,, LLC.

The GIS job market is heating up! In spite of the recent downturn in the economy the GIS job market has seen a steady increase.Jobs across the US and Europe are still there for those who seek them.Our customers tell us that they need professionals in the business demographics discipline and the municipalities around the US are looking for individuals with a combination of Civil Engineering and GIS backgrounds.They also tell us that skill sets for individuals are more stringent now than ever before.This is due to the advances in technology and the need for municipal governments to share GIS data with their public works counterparts.This is not good for the entry-level candidate, but does help the mid-level person looking for that career change or for that jump into management.Hot skill sets include knowledge of Oracle, SQL, Visual Basic, C++ programming skills, web design, and HTML/Java programming capabilities.They are using these skills to publish their maps to Intranet and Internet sites for everything from simple view access to detailed GIS queries and report capabilities.

With the tragic events of September 11, 2001, the push for E911 is also a good discipline for GIS job seekers.E911 or enhanced 911 is becoming the norm for large cities around the U.S.Combining GIS and telephone records, the individual needing help only has to dial 911 and their location is displayed on the screen to the dispatcher who can then direct the appropriate response to that address.Rural 911 addressing is a federally mandated program whereas all homes in the US must be addressed with a rural number for better identification.Some counties could be looking for freelance help to assist them in accomplishing this GIS task.Another area to consider looking for employment is the companies that supply data to these counties, cites, etc.They look for everything from project management to field technicians.Field technicians generally work from remote sites (home) and are provided with mileage or even a car allowance.

The cities and state level governments across the US continue to be a good feeding ground for GIS candidates.Civil Engineers with GIS background are hard to find.Everyone wants to tie their specific information to a database and have it ready to report, design, and build new Capitol Improvement Projects.The federal government is also another area to look for jobs in the GIS/Cadd (Computer-aided Design & Drafting) area.While it has seen a slow down, there are still a few jobs worth hunting for.However, you must be willing to relocate.

And if you are willing to relocate and work for wages that are tax-free, the deserts of Saudi Arabia may be your next home.Oil companies are again another hotspot for job seekers; companies like Saudi Aramco are looking for GIS and Cadd professionals.Most jobs require a 2+ year commitment, but the employer will most likely provide no cost plane travel to and from the US on a semi-regular basis, housing, food, and any in-country related travel expense.

Across the US, our salary survey has indicated that the average salary for a college graduate is approximately $40,000 for the east coast, $38,000 for the south, $36,000 for the Midwest, and $45,000 for the west coast.For a more detailed survey analysis, please see our wage and salary survey at European market is also another hot spot for jobs, specifically the UK market.Our customers there indicate they need business GIS experts for analysis, reports, and company demographic marketing studies.

The job market for GIS is ever expanding as the technology increases.Today's GIS professional must be more diverse and possess a background that allows the employer to accomplish his GIS objectives.The professional must be willing to learn multiple GIS software packages, have knowledge of networking, a little programming, and be able to publish GIS data to the web.While it may be difficult to find that perfect candidate with those qualifications, the employer must be willing to train, be patient and accept risk.

Mr.Ratzlaff can be reached at:
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Telephone/fax 920-733-7164 owns & operates: at at at

Published Wednesday, February 20th, 2002

Written by Andrew Ratzlaff

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