Geographical information systems (GIS) Officer

GIS location analyst GIS technician Mapping technician GIS data specialist

Career outlook for

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Average UK salary

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Currently employed in Scotland

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Five year job forecast

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"LMI for All" supplies our salary and employment status information. "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures.

What's it like?

A geographic information system (GIS) is designed to capture, store, analyse and present a range of complex geographical data. It’s like a modern version of a map but with the ability to show ever-changing information such as floods, fires or the expected route of a hurricane.  

As a GIS officer you’d use these systems to collect data and use it to help make long term plans. This could be anything from assisting with disaster responses by assessing the number of people affected in a particular area to assessing the environmental impact of building and planning applications. 

The data you’d use could come in various formats including cartographic (maps), photographic or digital images from things like satellites. You would have to use GIS technology to combine all these data types onto one map and use this to gather information or highlight patterns.  

You could work in government, commerce and industry and help make decisions about long-term planning and development. 

Things you might do: 

  • Capture the location of things such as bridges, street lights, road barriers and flood defences using a range of Global Positioning System (GPS) tools 
  • Prepare graphic representations of data in the form of maps, graphs or tables, using GIS hardware or software applications 
  • Maintain and update existing GIS databases 
  • Be able to use various methods of analysis, data manipulation and cartography software 
  • Use tools to join different types of GIS data and create new information in order to investigate patterns 
  • Work with clients to find out what information they need and how best to get it 

Working conditions

Hours

You would normally work 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday, although you may have to work some longer hours or weekends depending on workload and client needs. If you’re involved in field work it may involve long and irregular hours.

Environment

The role might involve field work to collect data so you should be prepared to spend some of your time outdoors.

Travel

You might have to travel to carry out field work.

UK employment status

Full-time

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Part-time

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Self employed

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Here are some of the skills needed for this job. Sign in to see how your skills match up.

  • Working with technology
  • Written communication
  • Designing
  • Observation
  • Attention to detail
  • Analysing
  • Understanding

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

Interested? Find out what's on offer at your school on Apprenticeships.scot.

Qualifications

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

This job requires ability and experience with computer systems, data analysis/application and maths.  Most employers will ask for degree-level qualifications or above. 

GIS Officers will often have a degree in: 

  • Environmental science 
  • Geographical information systems 
  • Urban planning 
  • Geography 
  • Surveying 
  • Computer science 
  • Maths/statistics 
  • Software engineering 

There are postgraduate qualifications available in relevant subjects, such as GIS or remote sensing. For entry into one of these courses you’d normally be expected to have a degree in a relevant subject such as geography, earth or environmental science, computing science, mathematics or civil engineering, but other subjects might be considered.  
 

Useful subjects

Many colleges and universities will have subjects that you must have for entry. They may also highlight additional subjects that they value. See individual institutions websites for specific entry information.   

Useful subjects would be: 

  • Geography 
  • Maths-focussed subjects 
  • Computer science 

Helpful to have

Not all employers list specific qualification requirements but they might ask for relevant experience, usually work based, that demonstrates a range of transferable skills. 

Classes that build spatial awareness and visual skills such as art and design or involving 3D modelling may help when producing user-friendly maps. 

It’s also helpful to have programming skills, experience of desktop publishing software, knowledge of analytics software such as ArcGIS and database software such as Microsoft Access.  
 

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