Author Topic: Career advice for geography/GIS (or related fields)  (Read 1833 times)

ElGrillo

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Career advice for geography/GIS (or related fields)
« on: February 12, 2017, 03:30:40 PM »
Hi everyone! I'm a college student currently studying geography, with a focus on GIS. I'm motivated to stay on this path and hopefully do work for the Forest Service or similar organizations, whether in government or for private companies. I am especially interested in conservation, but also in aspects of human geography, such as migration, solutions to alleviate poverty, etc. (A long shot dream would also be to work for NASA or other space related companies.)

My question is for people who have gotten degrees in geography or related fields and who work or have worked in geography or GIS. How do you like it? What do/did you do? Do you have any advice on getting a job in this field out of college, or advice in general?

Carma

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Re: Career advice for geography/GIS (or related fields)
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2017, 03:57:39 PM »
I've been working in GIS since 2004, and really enjoy the work still, though I've recently started phasing out of the "doing" and am getting into the "managing the people who do it". I have worked in the natural resource sector of my provincial government since 2005, starting out as a tech, then into an analyst role, and am now supervising a small staff of analysts and techs. My best advice for getting a job, at least in my province, is be willing to relocate. The rural/more remote offices tend to have a hard time attracting people, particularly students or new grads who don't want to live "up north". Taking jobs in those locations is great for gaining the few years of experience needed to get a higher level position. As for skills, learn python if you haven't already - the ability to automate workflows and/or analysis is very attractive. My org uses ArcGIS, so someone who is pretty familiar with it, plus the rest of the Arc ecosystem (ArcGIS Online, ArcGIS for Server, Collector, Survey 123, etc) would be great too.

I'm happy to answer any other questions you might have!

SnackDog

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Re: Career advice for geography/GIS (or related fields)
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2017, 01:13:06 AM »
Suggest you also learn Spotfire and pick up a practical understanding of statistics and data analysis. Together GIS and data mining are quite powerful in most industries and governments.

Monkey Uncle

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Re: Career advice for geography/GIS (or related fields)
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2017, 04:37:27 AM »
If you're interested in GIS in a conservation setting, you might consider minoring or double-majoring in a biology or conservation-related field.  If you get enough biology or forestry-related coursework to qualify for the GS-401, 404, 460, and/or 462 series, you will have many more options open to you (I'm assuming you're in the U.S.).

Check out the educational requirements for various series on OPM's web site: https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/classification-qualifications/general-schedule-qualification-standards/#url=Group-Standards

Basically, the more series you can qualify for, the better your shot at landing a job.  Beyond that, I second the comment about being willing to relocate.

SwordGuy

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Re: Career advice for geography/GIS (or related fields)
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2017, 04:44:48 AM »
Forest Service.   Great people to work with.   

Intelligence services, including military intelligence.    Some of the guys may be a bit odd, but lots of smart, competent, pretty, and sweet-natured women to work with.

City/County governments.    Pay will usually be a lot less than anywhere else.

ElGrillo

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Re: Career advice for geography/GIS (or related fields)
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2017, 09:08:14 PM »
I've been working in GIS since 2004, and really enjoy the work still, though I've recently started phasing out of the "doing" and am getting into the "managing the people who do it". I have worked in the natural resource sector of my provincial government since 2005, starting out as a tech, then into an analyst role, and am now supervising a small staff of analysts and techs. My best advice for getting a job, at least in my province, is be willing to relocate. The rural/more remote offices tend to have a hard time attracting people, particularly students or new grads who don't want to live "up north". Taking jobs in those locations is great for gaining the few years of experience needed to get a higher level position. As for skills, learn python if you haven't already - the ability to automate workflows and/or analysis is very attractive. My org uses ArcGIS, so someone who is pretty familiar with it, plus the rest of the Arc ecosystem (ArcGIS Online, ArcGIS for Server, Collector, Survey 123, etc) would be great too.

I'm happy to answer any other questions you might have!

Thank you for the answer. It's good to hear that being willing to relocate is a plus. I like the state I live in now, but I wouldn't mind moving up north or south for a rural setting, especially if it's just for a few years. As for Python, I will have to look into that. I'm too late in my major to go for computer science, but I might try to do a coding bootcamp or something.

Suggest you also learn Spotfire and pick up a practical understanding of statistics and data analysis. Together GIS and data mining are quite powerful in most industries and governments.

Awesome, I'll check that out, I've never heard of Spotfire.

If you're interested in GIS in a conservation setting, you might consider minoring or double-majoring in a biology or conservation-related field.  If you get enough biology or forestry-related coursework to qualify for the GS-401, 404, 460, and/or 462 series, you will have many more options open to you (I'm assuming you're in the U.S.).

Check out the educational requirements for various series on OPM's web site: https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/classification-qualifications/general-schedule-qualification-standards/#url=Group-Standards

Basically, the more series you can qualify for, the better your shot at landing a job.  Beyond that, I second the comment about being willing to relocate.

Wow! Thanks for that website, that has a lot of resources and I'll have to read it over some more.

Forest Service.   Great people to work with.   

Intelligence services, including military intelligence.    Some of the guys may be a bit odd, but lots of smart, competent, pretty, and sweet-natured women to work with.

City/County governments.    Pay will usually be a lot less than anywhere else.

I've heard there are a lot of uses for GIS in the military, I'll have to look in to that some more.

Dusty Dog Ranch

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Re: Career advice for geography/GIS (or related fields)
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2017, 09:49:15 PM »
Check out your local conservation district, sometimes called a soil and water conservation district. They vary in size and structure from county to county and state to state, and so will the salaries. They are similar to NRCS, but with less red tape/paperwork usually since we are local not federal. Our conservation planners use GIS daily.

BlueHouse

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Re: Career advice for geography/GIS (or related fields)
« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2017, 02:32:42 PM »
One way to make yourself extremely marketable is to have a lot of different industry experience with a toolset.  So if I were you, I'd do everything in my power to get summer internships with Esri and let them put you out in the field working on customer data.   Contact the main headquarters, but also contact the sector management for natural resources, or whatever they call it there.   If you have to move for the summer, do it.  If you can work remotely, even for minimum wage, do it for the experience.