Who is a GIS Specialist?

A Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Specialist is someone who is responsible for managing and analyzing spatial data and systems. They use this information to help organizations make better decisions about where to build things, how to plan for disasters, and many more.

GIS Specialists must think spatially, which means they need to visualize data in order to understand how location plays a role. Specialists are also responsible for analyzing the data to make informed decisions. In this role, one might deal with different systems and platforms such as spatial databases, extensions etc.

GIS Specialist Job Description

Some of the specific duties that GIS Specialists may be responsible for include:

Collecting and managing spatial data:  GIS Specialists handle the acquisition of spatial data, and then ensure that a copy is stored safely for future use. Specialists are also responsible for making sure that the data is organized and labelled in a way that makes sense to everyone.

Analyzing spatial data: GIS Specialists use spatial analysis to understand how different factors (like population, land use, and climate) impact specific areas. This allows them to develop information that others can use to make better decisions.

For example, a GIS Specialist might be tasked with finding the best place to site a new recycling plant in a city. They would collect information about the types of materials that people typically recycle, and then use this analysis to help convince local officials that the city should consider a location outside of the main downtown area.

Presenting spatial data: One of the most important duties for someone in this role is making information accessible to everyone who needs it. GIS Specialists design and present complex spatial data in a way that is easy for people to understand. This could include creating maps, graphs, or other visual aids that help communicate the data in a clear and concise way.

What skills are required in order for someone to be a successful GIS Specialist?

  • Geographic and Spatial Awareness: As a GIS specialist, you need to understand and explain how the location (geography) affects the data they’re working with.
  • Data Collection, Analysis, and Interpretation: A GIS Specialist is responsible for both collecting the data they need to work with, as well as analyzing it to make informed decisions.
  • Technical Skills: A GIS Specialist must be proficient in computer mapping software, as well as the software used to collect and analyze spatial data.
  • Communication and Interpersonal Skills: A GIS Specialist must be able to effectively communicate their findings to others. They should also be able to work well with a diverse range of people from different backgrounds.
  • Creative Thinking: You should be able to think creatively in order to solve problems and come up with new ways that spatial data can be used to help organizations make better decisions.

What training is required to become a GIS specialist?

A GIS Specialist should have at least a bachelor’s degree in geography, cartography, computer science, or a related field. In Kenya, there are many institutions that offer diplomas and degrees in GIS. These include; The University of Nairobi, Dedan Kimathi University of Technology, Technical University of Kenya, Kenyatta University.

It’s important to become proficient in computers and various mapping/GIS systems and software used to collect and analyze spatial data. There are many online courses you can take, as well as programs offered at many universities.

A GIS specialist can gain experience by working with a GIS team or department, or by volunteering with a community organization that uses GIS.

Where Do I Find Work as a GIS Specialist? 

GIS Specialists may find employment with organizations in the public and private sectors, including government agencies, non-profit organizations, educational institutions, and businesses.

There are GIS job opportunities available in every part of the world and for all kinds of organizations. In order to find a job that fits your interests, you should first decide what types of organizations you are interested in working for. For example, if you are passionate about helping people who live in poor communities, you can find work with an international development organization.

Once you have an idea of the types of organizations you want to work for, you can start looking for job openings on job boards like Indeed.com and LinkedIn. You can also check out the websites of individual organizations to see if they are hiring. Remember, don’t be afraid to keep your options open and apply for multiple types of jobs.

How Much Can I Earn as a GIS Specialist?

The salary you can earn as a GIS specialist depends on factors such as; the industry you work in, the size of your company, and what level of experience you have. However, the average salary for a GIS Specialist is around $60,000 per year in the United States. In Kenya, the salary range for a GIS Specialist is around Ksh 780,000 per month.

Final Words

GIS Specialists are an important part of any organization that relies on spatial data. Their skills allow them to help make better decisions, and to communicate this information in a way that everyone can understand. Today, GIS specialists are in high demand. The job market for GIS Specialists is projected to grow by 11% over the next ten years.

A GIS specialist has the important job of collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data related to the geography of a particular area. The more you learn about GIS, the more possibilities you will have at your fingertips. This will help organizations make decisions that will positively impact the people they serve.

Remember, the field of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is growing rapidly, and there is a growing demand for GIS Professionals. If you are interested in working with spatial data, to help organizations make better decisions, a GIS career may be a very good fit for you.

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Who is a GIS Specialist

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Wanjohi Kibui

A GIS user with interests in web and desktop systems development, FOSS advocate, trainer and mentor. Lives in Nairobi but finds adventure in travelling.
The "Life in GIS" phrase is as a result of the many told and untold stories in the Geospatial realm.

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Brian Kiprotich

A great piece there!

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