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Career in GIS: Geographic Information Systems

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GIS is a relatively wide term that is related to a number of different skills, procedures and methods. It is based upon many operations and has many functions related to engineering, insurance, preparation, transport/logistics, administration, telecommunications and business. Geographic Information System (GIS) is related to operations such as analysis, GIS modelling and web-based GIS, cartography and Esri software. It’s a tool used to gather, transform, manipulate, analyse and produce information related to the surface of the Earth that reveal relationships, patterns and trends in the form of maps, globes, reports and charts. This data may exist as maps, 3D virtual models, tables or lists.

Importance of GIS    
GIS plays an important role in many organizations. It benefits organizations of all sizes and in almost every industry, like police and fire departments to locate landmarks and hazards places, plot destinations and design emergency routes. GIS is used by governments as a common platform for data sharing, which enhances workflow, decision making and coordination across the state and with state and local government. Researchers use the GIS system for their research work. For example, it helps in measuring the speed of glacier melting in Greenland and Antarctica. GIS maps can be used to show information about the number and density. For example, GIS can help in finding out how many doctors are there in different areas compared with the population. It also helps in finding nearby relief areas in case of natural calamities like flood, earthquake, etc. Biologists use GIS to track animal migration patterns.

GIS system is the combination of hardwares and softwares which are used for storage, retrieval, mapping and analysing geographical data. It  is helpful in finding different locations such as latitude and longitude, address or ZIP code. It can include information about the land such as the location of streams, different kinds of vegetation, and different kinds of soil. It includes information about the sites of factories, farms and schools or storm drains, roads and electric power lines. Many different types of information can be compared and contrasted using GIS. The system can include data about people, population, income or education level.

GIS is totally different from CAD and other graphical computer applications. All spatial data are geographically referenced to a map projection in an earth coordinate system. Spatial data and associated attributes in the same coordinate system can then be layered together for mapping and analysis. Thus it can be used for scientific investigations, resource management and development planning.

Scientists use GIS to compare population growth to resources such as drinking water or to try to determine a region’s future needs for public services like parking, roads and electricity. There is no limit to the kind of information that can be analysed using GIS technology.

GIS & Remote Sensing
Remote sensing technologies are used to gather information about the surface of the earth from aircraft, satellites or airborne sensor. Mostly remote sensed data used for mapping and spatial analysis, which is collected as reflected electromagnetic radiation and are processed into a digital image and data. Aerial photography and satellite images are two major sources of remote sensing data. Remote sensing data are used by the GIS system for collection, storage and delivery of several GIS applications. Remote sensing data need to be rectified before it can be used in GIS due to errors occurred by atmospheric disturbances, undulating plane, unconformity in camera angle, camera resolution, etc. Fields where GIS remote sensing is used are environmental monitoring, coastal disaster management, slope degradation monitoring, ground engineering, geoscientific study, vegetation monitoring,  ocean floor study and many other fields.Education Requirements to Build a Career in GIS
The field of GIS has become advanced in recent years throughout the world. GIS careers exist in every imaginable discipline from environmental science to commercial businesses and much more. Wide range of opportunities are available for a successful career in GIS. There are many prospects to obtain a formal GIS education through degree and certification programs. Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral degrees can be obtained at universities and colleges worldwide. A number of certification programs from the GIS Certification Institute and distance learning courses in GIS are also available.To have a career in GIS candidate must have at least a Bachelor or Master degree in Geography, Computer Science, Surveying Engineering, Forestry or Earth Science. Many universities’ geography programs include specific GIS teaching. Other courses in a GIS degree program include statistics, cartography, historical geography, geodes and GPS and measurement analysis.

GIS Courses & Universities
There are different courses available in many colleges and institutes for the GIS. Some of them are listed below:Indiana University : IUPUI’s Geography Department offers an undergraduate and graduate certificate in GIS, as well as a Master of Science in GIS.Ryerson Polytechnic University: This university offers Certificate Courses in Digital Geography and GIS.Curtin University: Department of Spatial Sciences provides Undergraduate and postgraduate studies in GIScience and surveying. Online distance education in GIScience is also available.University of Calgary: Offers Masters Courses in GIS, Geography Department.

Birkbeck College University of London: The college offers Geographic Information Science (MSc Degree), Geographic Information Science (Postgraduate Certificate), Geographic Information Science (Postgraduate Diploma).

University of the Free State, South Africa : The university provides training on pre and postgraduate levels. Research and GIS application in both physical and human geography and also remote sensing courses.

University of Leeds : School of Geography offers MSC and MA GIS related courses.

Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland: The college offers undergraduate, post graduate and teaching & research in GIS.

Aberystwyth University : Its masters course aims to give advanced training in the application of specific techniques in both GIS and remote sensing. 

Designations in the field of GIS
Geographic Information System Specialists work with related software and programs to create and maintain data and maps that can be combined with geographically referenced data. Different organizations based on GIS based working so GIS officers’ work activities varies from one organization to another. Some of the Job designations in the field of GIS are listed below:

GIS Analyst – Provide technical support to the organization’s Geographic Information System .

GIS Specialist – Have the ability to design, develop, maintain and present spatial data for various projects using a specific platform.

GIS Manager – Direct and manage computing and information technology strategic plans, policies, programs and schedules for business and finance data processing, computer services, network communications and management information services.

GIS developer – GIS developers provide technical support on GIS programs. They maintain and troubleshoot existing systems, upgrade software. Additional duties can involve project development, management and budgeting.

GIS Technician – GIS Technicians make maps, customized Geographic Information Systems applications and manipulate data to serve a variety of purposes. They read and interpret maps, manipulate and understand digital land data and manage data entered into a GIS database.

GIS Coordinator – Manages the Geographic Information System, Mapping function for its organizations.

Mapping Analyst – Analyst will support the analysis, production and presentation of geographic data.

GIS Data Steward – Assists the GIS Data Manager in developing strategies, processes and environments supporting spatial data access, management and integration.

There are many funding opportunities for pursuing a GIS program:
Gis Scholarships
Darrel Hess Community College Geography Scholarship
Dissertation Research Grants
GIS ESRI Canada Scholarship
Oregon URISA program


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