How does one go about getting entry-level GIS jobs? In general, you pick your profession, such as becoming a cartographer or a GIS technician. GIS technician jobs are really entry-level GIS jobs, because they don't require the same level of expertise as those of a surveyor or cartographer do.
The GIS technician
In fact, GIS technicians don't have to have an advanced degree; they can start working right out of high school. As a GIS technician, you assist surveyors with setting up surveying equipment such as the theodolite. The theodolite looks a lot like a telescope and is used to measure angles, both vertical and horizontal. It also measures distances and elevation. As a GIS technician, you use the theodolite to train your line of vision on vertical rods that are held by rod workers. These rods help you take measurements and then these measurements are recorded. You may also use other measuring tools like surveyors' chains.
You measure distances and heights on a particular piece of land that has not been measured before, or that has changed so that you must re-measure it and make note of the changes. You also use these instruments to calculate boundaries of land and prepare maps or update them. You may also figure out how big a piece of land is, such as its area in total acreage.
In addition to GIS, GPS, or global positioning systems, have become a very important to GIS jobs. GPS is important to most of us because we use it in our cars to get from place to place. However, you might also use GPS to record satellite radio signals, which are transmitted at certain points. These measurements, along with GIS, allow for mapping accurately. In addition to these other technologies, computer-assisted drafting or CAD is also used. Indeed, the GIS arena has changed a lot in the last few years with these new technologies. Of course, tried-and-true instruments like surveyors' chains are also still necessary.
Getting entry-level GIS jobs
As a GIS technician, you'll need your high school diploma. It's recommended as well that you've taken courses in algebra, trigonometry, geography, and computer science. If you start right out of high school as a GIS technician, you usually began working as an apprentice or rod worker. After a few years, you can graduate to using instruments and chains.
However, there is a way to speed up this process. You may also go to night school to get the necessary technical or college training so that you can become an instrument worker right away. In addition, as you continue in your profession, you are going to have to keep up with technology. This means that your education is going to have to continue on at least an informal basis throughout your career.
It's not necessary to get certification to become a GIS technician, but it is certainly looked upon favorably by the industry. The National Society of Professional Surveyors makes certification available for technicians who do surveying. You'll be certified on four different levels, depending on your level of career, as you reach each level and then pass it. You need to pass written examinations given at each level to assure that you have the skills necessary.
In addition, you can choose to become a surveyor. If you do this, you must generally get a four-year bachelor's degree, but you may be able to do this in night school or online while maintaining your career as a GIS technician.
Good physical conditioning is required to be a technician. You're also going to have to be very detail oriented. In addition, you'll have to be good at working with people and in your communication skills, since a large part of your job involves working with others. Because most GIS jobs are in fact ''environmental GIS jobs'' in that they take place largely in the field, you'll need to have the physical stamina to undertake this kind of physical activity.
As a GIS technician, you'll average about $30,000 a year, depending on where you work and live. If you're in a union, you'll make more than that, and if you work in government GIS jobs, you should also make more than that, about $35,000 a year on average, as compared to $30,000 a year you can make in the private sector.
Entry-level GIS jobs are in fact one of the few professions where one can get a good job and advance through ones career quite well without having to get a formal advanced post-high school degree. A high school education and graduation is required, after which you can apprentice or work as an entry-level GIS technician as a ''rod worker.'' In general, these entry-level GIS workers work under the direct supervision of surveyors.
This is also a good career whereby you can advance without having had a lot of formal post-high school education, because you can train and take examinations to advance throughout your career via certification. In addition, these types of jobs are continually in demand because GIS is becoming necessary; in fact, the entire globe will eventually need to be mapped. Even when this monumental task has been accomplished, though, the work isn't over. As topography changes, new developments and buildings go up while old ones come down, and landscapes change. Those who work with GIS will need to continue learning to keep abreast of these changes. Therefore, this is a good and secure career to have for the foreseeable future, if you have the talent for this type of work.