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GIS Employment - Myths about GIS Opportunities

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Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are computer programs used to create a detailed map using satellite information and this job is increasingly becoming very important. If you are a professional surveyor, you may have noticed the ever increasing number of business opportunities in geographic information system (GIS).

Most surveyors, especially the older more traditional generation, have chosen to ignore this, but this is slowly changing and several have already recognized that GIS jobs are a natural extension of professional services they can offer. There are some reasons why most surveyors choose to ignore GIS, but usually these can be classified as unfounded myths or misconceptions based on a lack of knowledge.

It has been noted recently by several industry leaders that surveyors themselves are the slowest to accept GIS technology and recognize that it can grow their business and give advantage to them and their clients. Some of these barriers are ideological or ethical, which are the most pervasive. With the current technology, GIS cannot be as accurate as surveyors want, since they find unacceptable anything less than a hundredth of a foot of variation.

Business costs are another barrier surveyors perceive. Since these surveyors feel that work needs to be good, they also give prices according to the level of difficulty. They are thinking that since GIS is not very accurate, they can't ask for high fees if they use it and as a result cannot charge much or make much profit.

Surveyors have to see that these opportunities are right in front of them. They do not have to get into GIS mapping as a main service, just an extension of their business that would benefit them and their clients. It is work that is only waiting to be done. Here is a list of some of the most common misconceptions that most surveyors have about GIS employment:

Myth 1: GIS related mapping work goes against the grain and contributes to the decline of the profession of land surveying.

Reality: This is false as GIS aids greatly in making land surveying easier and faster, although it is less accurate. Still, it can be an added service that surveyors can give to customers.

Myth 2: The work done by professional surveyors is accurate enough as it is, and there is no need for GIS employment.

Reality: Maps created by professional surveyors that are accurate to within a hundredth of a foot have their use as well as maps generated from GIS.

Myth 3: Surveyors perceive themselves as set apart from GIS and that it is not ideal for their business.

Reality: Surveyors must understand that they are now perceived as the most suitable candidates to start a GIS career.

Myth 4: According to most surveyors, anything less than a hundredth of a foot precision has no place in the surveying industry and is not worth doing.

Reality: It is a fact that GIS employment will happen. The hundredth of a foot precision has its place, but so do lesser levels of precision. The goal of GIS is not so much precision but to serve geographic information to a predefined set of users who know what they need to accomplish with the applications used and the financial rewards they will get when these applications are automated with GIS employment. These users are content with the positional accuracy of GIS that currently ranges from plus or minus 2 feet to plus or minus 40 feet.

Myth 5: Another popular myth among surveyors concerning GIS employment is that the surveyor will need to learn a whole new market.

Reality: Surveyors could find their first GIS assignment with their current client base and since you could price GIS lower, selling it is usually easier than expected. For instance, local surveyors will find it easy to convince officials in their municipality, who are preparing to implement GIS, that they know the maps better than someone from out of town, adding the argument that it will be better to keep the work and tax revenue in the local economy.

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