GIS Specialist

What Is A GIS Specialist?

A GIS specialist is an individual that works with geographic information systems (GIS) to solve problems, present data, and store information. This can be a full time career or integrated as a duty into a position such as a natural resources manager.

What Do GIS Specialists Do?

  • Work with geographic information systems
  • Analyze spatial data
  • Provide expert advice and services for users of GIS systems
  • Create maps
  • Work with remote sensing and imagery to locate special features on a landscape
  • Monitor conservation easements and locate natural features with remote sensing
  • Determine natural disaster escape routes and estimate time needed for evacuations

Where Do GIS Specialists Work?

GIS specialists work in a variety of organizations. The majority of their work is conducted indoors from a computer. Occasionally GIS specialists must “ground truth” a site, this is done by going into the field and comparing what is on the ground with what the GIS system identifies.

The versatility and efficiency of GIS systems has created a high demand for GIS specialists. Private natural resource management companies employ a large number of GIS specialists to make maps, conduct remote sensing, calculate statistics, and keep data organized and accessible. State and federal agencies also hire GIS specialists for similar reasons. GIS is used in almost every modern profession, more powerful computers and remote sensing methods will continue to create a demand for GIS specialists.


GIS certificate programs are available, with these certifications an individual is able to obtain employment working directly with GIS systems. Many universities also offer degree programs in GIS. A degree in GIS makes an individual in high demand in the work force. It is common for natural resource managers to obtain a degree in their specific natural resource field and have a focus or minor in GIS.