Geographic Information Systems (GIS) have transcended the world as we know it. The number of applications in areas like mapping, telecom services, urban planning, utility management, transportation, resource management, and more, affect every area of modern life.
With this expansion of GIS has come geospatial job growth, heightening the need for increased GIS education. There are thousands of GIS jobs available for those with the right skillsets. A search on the job site Indeed.com resulted in nearly 11,000 available jobs with GIS in the title.
This growth in the GIS sector has sparked academic acknowledgment for the necessity of cultivating GIS skills throughout various levels of education.
Colleges and universities across the U.S. have or are in the process of developing certificate, undergraduate, and MBA courses in GIS to meet the needs of the geospatial industry.
The Power of Modern GIS
GIS mapping and analyzation offer real-time insight on various global trends, creating visualizations which are easy to interpret.
The progressive use of GIS aligns with the steady incline of the Internet of Things (IoT) in various industries.
Everything in GIS revolves around data, with particular reference to using existing data to create new facts and figures. From the new data that is derived, more difficult business decisions can be made, which ultimately drives company success.
This, in a nutshell, is the power of GIS in practice.
Location intelligence is widely perceived as an essential factor for revenue growth
GIS skills are more universally recognized today than ever before, and the practice is only going one way—upwards.
Location intelligence is widely perceived as an essential factor for revenue growth shows recent research by Dresner Advisory Services.
With the importance of GIS widely recognized across the board, let’s now take a look at some practical examples of GIS education in practice.
Advancing GIS Education at Penn State
Penn State University Libraries regularly conducts informational sessions on geospatial topics.
These topics relate to subject areas such as foundational mapping, geospatial analysis, and web mapping applications. The sessions are intended as an introduction to GIS and geospatial concepts used in a variety of disciplines.
GIS education is not new at Penn State, nor to career veterans. There are those who seek to add GIS to their skillset, and others who want to advance their current geospatial knowledge.
Brookelynn Constant, a U.S. Department of Defense data analyst, enrolled in the university’s online masters in geographic information systems program. She sought to elevate her position at the department.
During the program, Constant took part in the Challenges in Global GeoSpatial Analytic course. She and other students traveled throughout Europe and learned how to apply GIS in understanding refugee crises.
Paul Millhouser went from law to GIS, which he uses to track wildlife and study how manmade ventures impact animals. He enrolled in Penn State’s master’s program to advance his GIS skills.
Washington College Boosts GIS Program
Washington College recently received $2 million in GIS education grants. The grants will enable the college to develop its GIS program and broaden student opportunities and professional experience.
This move is also intended to spark further investment in the business development field. Invested parties recognize the importance of gaining professional experience within the GIS field, which is essential for economic development.
The college’s GIS Lab, which is supervised by the Center for Environment & Society (CES), has seen considerable progress since 2003. The lab trains student interns in GIS technologies and analyses, and also carries out funded GIS projects throughout the U.S. This training helps prepare students for the GIS professional field.
GIS Courses at Harper College Spur Entry Level Jobs
The GIS education program at Harper College is rooted in the high-growth geospatial technology industry.
Here, students have the opportunity to be hands-on. Students study GIS in areas like spatial analysis, cartographic design, spatial design, implementation, database design and much more.
Graduates receive an 18-hour certificate, which is more than enough to apply for entry-level GIS industry roles. The GIS credits can be transferred to universities for further education.
“We can get jobs anywhere.”
Harper Assistant Professor Mukila Maitha notes that GIS expertise may become as omnipresent as skills similar to Microsoft Excel. A range of other departments at Harper, such as marketing, biology, and Web development, have expressed interest in the GIS course.
Whether at four-year universities or community colleges like Front Range in Colorado, which has offered a geospatial science technology program since 2004, anyone can learn GIS basics or apply for a master’s in the field.
The possibilities of how one could use a GIS education appear to be endless. Job types range from phone company GIS technicians and land surveyors to GIS sketchers, mapping specialists, and museum archive data experts.
As Front Range GIS program coordinator Jennifer Muha stated in the Times-Call News, “We can get jobs anywhere.”