When it comes to college, figuring out what to major or minor in can be one of the most challenging parts, but crucial. Personally, I was fortunate enough to decide what I wanted to major and minor in early on in my college career. It is important to consider all academic majors to find out what you are really interested in. If you have ever thought about GIS as a degree or if you have never even heard of it, read below! I’ll give you some useful information when considering GIS as a degree from what it is, who uses it, what careers you could pursue, colleges with GIS degrees and other websites to check out! For my minor, GIS is what I chose. GIS can be a major, minor or a certificate program, at UMD at least. Look at the links below to see other colleges that offer this degree as well!
What is GIS?
Geographic information systems or science (GIS) allows us to visualize, analyze, capture, store, manage, and interpret spatial data to understand relationships or trends. GIS needs the hardware, the software, people, and organization to work. It is commonly used to make layers of data showing different variables of a location to inform decision makers and the public. One of the key components it does is help create maps, as well as charts, globes, and reports. Maps help analyze almost anything. Many of these topics can be analyzed through writing also, but showing them through maps can be worth a thousand words, without using any words. Imagine that your company wanted to figure out the best place to locate a new store that would bring in the most buyers, GIS can help with that. Imagine the DNR needs help looking at the land cover and soils beneath it, GIS can help with that. Imagine that one wanted to look at the similarities between low housing areas and crime rates, GIS can help with that. Imagine that one wanted to look at the lack of doctors and areas with high levels of HIV/AIDS, GIS can help with that. Imagine that a disaster strikes and the city needs to figure out how and where to evacuate citizens to, GIS can help with that. GIS is an extremely useful tool for many disciplines and there are a huge array of job paths to take in it. Whatever your interests are, one could pretty much find a career path in GIS that follows those interests.
Who uses GIS?
GIS is a benefit for many organizations and companies. It helps cut costs, improves decision making and communication for anyone who uses it. GIS is implemented in areas of business, natural resources, public safety, transportation, utilities, communication, education, health, human services, economics, real estate, sustainable development, and map/data production. The government is a large user of GIS. Many federal agencies use it, such as, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the National Weather Service, the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and many more.
What are career titles in GIS?
Here are some careers that one with a major/minor/certificate in GIS could pursue:
LIDAR Engineer, GIS Coordinator, Software Engineer, Applications Programmer, GIS Software Product Specialist, Cartographer, Industry Marketing Manager, Mapping/Survey Technician, GIS Instructor, Database and System Integrator, Computer Mapping Technician, Planner, GIS Data Manager, GIS Sales Manager and many more.
Many students who graduated with this degree from UMD have become successful in this field. Some career examples that students from UMD have gone to work for are the Minnesota DNR, Regional planning divisions, GIS consulting firms and engineering firms. If you want more information on what UMD has to offer with GIS, visit their website here.
Considering a degree in GIS?
Numerous colleges and universities have this program. Check out these websites for a list of colleges that offer a GIS education:
- http://www.cartogis.org/docs/cartogis_careers.pdf (Page 16)
Looking for other resources?
Check out these websites for more information about GIS:
- ESRI – GIS Mapping Software
- Minnesota GIS/LIS Consortium
- Careers in Cartography & GIS
- What is GIS and How Can It Help Me? (Video)
Photo Source: Unsplash | John-Mark Kuznietsov