GIS Specialist (Geographic Information Systems)

Job Description:

A GIS Specialist utilizes geographic data to create, manage, analyse, and visualise spatial information for various applications such as mapping, planning, and decision-making.

Job Category:
Environmental Industry

What you will do:

As a GIS specialist, you will be:

  • Collecting, organising, and maintaining geographic data in databases
  • Using software to analyse spatial relationships, patterns, and trends
  • Designing maps and visualisations for various purposes
  • Developing and maintaining structured databases for spatial data
  • Assigning geographical coordinates to addresses or other location-based data
  • Utilising satellite or aerial imagery for mapping and analysis
  • Creating predictive models based on geographic data for various scenarios
  • Translating complex spatial data into actionable insights
  • Working with various teams and disciplines to incorporate GIS data into projects
  • Assisting users with GIS software, troubleshooting, and training
  • Building custom GIS applications for specific needs


You will need:

  • knowledge in GIS software, domain-specific knowledge (if applicable) and programming skills (optional)
  • knowledge of spatial data concepts, cartography and remote sensing basics
  • knowledge in database management and geospatial analysis
  • awareness of available data sources, such as government agencies, satellites, and open data repositories

As well as:

Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a GIS specialist, you should focus on building a strong foundation in relevant subjects during your GCSE years. While there’s no strict set of subjects required, the following subjects can be beneficial for preparing you for a career in GIS:

  1. Mathematics: Strong math skills are crucial for understanding spatial data analysis, geometry, and statistical concepts used in GIS work.
  2. Geography: Geography provides essential knowledge about physical and human geography, which forms the basis of GIS work. It introduces you to spatial relationships, maps, and geographic concepts.
  3. Computer Science / IT: A solid understanding of computer science and information technology is essential, as GIS work heavily involves using specialised software, databases, and programming languages.
  4. Sciences (Physics, Biology, Chemistry): Sciences can help you develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which are valuable in data analysis and interpretation. They can also be relevant if you’re interested in GIS applications in environmental or natural resource management.
  5. Design & Technology: This subject can be useful for gaining practical skills in creating maps and visualisations, which are key aspects of GIS work.
  6. English: Effective communication is important in any field. Good writing and presentation skills will help you convey your findings and ideas clearly.

Remember that while these subjects can provide a strong foundation, becoming a GIS specialist often involves further education and specialised training in GIS-related fields. It’s also a good idea to explore extracurricular activities, internships, and online courses related to GIS to enhance your skills and knowledge.

To become a GIS specialist, you generally need a combination of education, skills, and experience. Here’s an overview of the qualifications and requirements:


A bachelor’s degree in a related field is usually the minimum requirement. Degrees in Geography, Geographical Information Systems, Geomatics, Environmental Science, Computer Science, or a related field are common.


Internships or entry-level positions can provide practical experience and help you apply your skills in real-world scenarios.

Building a portfolio of GIS projects, even if they’re personal or academic, can demonstrate your capabilities to potential employers.

Depending on the specialisation, experience with field data collection and GPS equipment can be advantageous.

Optional Certifications

GIS Certifications: Certifications from organizations like the GIS Certification Institute (GISCI) can validate your skills and knowledge.

Software-Specific Certifications: Some GIS software providers offer certifications that demonstrate your proficiency in their platforms.

Additional Qualifications for Advanced Roles

Master’s Degree: For more advanced or specialised roles, a master’s degree in GIS or a related field might be required or preferred.

Ph.D.: If you’re interested in research or academia, pursuing a Ph.D. in a related field can be beneficial.

Working Hours and Environment:

A Geographic Information Systems (GIS) specialist usually works full-time hours in an office environment, employing specialized software for mapping and data analysis. Fieldwork might be necessary to collect data, and collaboration with other professionals is common. The role spans industries like environmental management, urban planning, government agencies, and engineering, with tasks ranging from creating maps to supporting resource exploration.

Career Path & Progression:

A typical career path for a GIS specialist often starts as a technician or analyst, then advances to specialist or coordinator roles. With experience, you can become a senior specialist, manager, or consultant. Specialising in areas like cartography or data science is an option, and leadership roles as a director or in academia are also possible career directions.