Geographical Information Systems

We're looking for people who:

are experts in geography and computer science.

What you will do:

You will use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to collect, analyze, and interpret geographic information and also  create and maintain data and/or maps. In turn, this material can be combined with other information to present various pictures of data covering land use, political divisions, and transportation networks.

Some specific tasks you will be asked to complete include:

  • Build and maintain digital databases
  • Analyze relationships between different geographic data
  • Meet with clients to determine their product needs
  • Research and locate databases
  • Enter new map data using coordinate systems, longitude, latitude, elevation, topography, and map scales
  • Create identifying data, such as key words and key ideas, for information inputs to a GIS

Knowledge required for this job:

  • Working knowledge of world geography, including land, sea and air mass features and the ways they interact
  • Knowing how to use various ways and means to describe geographic relationships
  • Thorough understanding of GIS hardware and software, and general principles of computers and computer programming
  • Principles of technology and engineering and how to use them to design and produce goods and services
  • Understanding and applying mathematical  principles
  • Knowing design techniques and tools, especially for the production of GIS data

Skills required for this job:

  • Communicating GIS information to people who are not GIS-technical
  • The ability to identify essential information, and then validate and sort it into a specific order
  • The ability to solve problems using the GIS suite of tools
  • The ability to develop and use computer programs

What education you need:

Most GIS specialists have a bachelor's degree. A majority (93%) of people ages 25-44 who currently hold this kind of job have a bachelor's degree. Fewer than 4% (3.9%) have had some college experience, and only 3.1% have a high school diploma or lower.


Nationally, people working in this job earn between $16.63 and $45.51 an hour.
In Maryland, the pay scale ranges from $18.33 - $54.21 an hour. (Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) 2007)

Future job prospects

Nationally, all GIS specialists' jobs are expected to increase from 73,400 positions in 2004 to 85,900 in 2014. (+17%) In Maryland, jobs numbers are expected to increase as well, with 1,590 positions in 2004 and 1,850 in 2014. (+16%)

According to the Maryland Commission on Higher Education, training for this career is available through these resources:

The Maryland Career Clusters help students prepare for their future education and careers while they are in high school.  The job of GIS Specialist is part of the Environmental, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Systems Career Cluster, in the core area of Environmental Services.

You can explore other careers in the Environmental, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Systems Career Cluster here.