Like many of you, I give presentations and workshops throughout each year on the topic of GIS as a career.
A number of recurring themes seem to resonate with students, educators, career counselors, administrators, policymakers, and other audiences as to why people might want to consider a career in GIS, and why GIS positions in organizations need to be supported by managers. The themes I consider to be most important are below.
Do you want a career or just a job? Do you want to be paid for doing something you love to do or just collect a paycheck? GIS is a dynamic career that will only become more important to society as time goes on.
Do you want to keep learning and growing? A career where GIS is a fundamental part of your day allows you to be immersed in a field where you can continually expand your horizons and move forward in an environment of lifelong learning.
Do you want to do something cool? GIS is an exciting, rapidly-changing, and cool technology that merges perfectly with many other emerging technologies, such as video, web development, mobile apps, and much more.
Do you want to do something important? GIS is a green technology that is making a difference to our planet and its people every day for key decisions about wildlife habitat, human health, renewable energy, climate change, water quality and availability, wilderness areas, and much more.
Do you love maps? For thousands of years, maps have been fascinating and powerful sources of information. GIS combines the best of visualization and technology. Today’s maps are not just reference sources, they are dynamic, and you can change them to suit whatever need you have or problem you are trying to solve.
Do you like to get outside? GIS depends on data collected in the field. Your "field" could be atop a glacier, in a river, on a city street. There is no end to what needs to be mapped and analyzed.
Do you want to empower people? The convergence of the web, GIS, and handheld devices make citizen science a reality you can contribute to real scientific studies or build tools to enable citizens to make these contributions.
Are you curious about your world? GIS allows you to investigate "what if" scenarios, to ask questions, to test models, and to investigate possible outcomes.
Do you care about the well-being of your local community? A career in GIS enables you to do something about issues in your own community, such as health, zoning, services, urban greenways, crime, trash, traffic, and more.
Do you want to make sense of data? If you think that a mountain of data exists now, just wait until next year. GIS helps you make sense of all of that data, and to develop critical thinking skills to help you understand what data to use, and what not to use.
Do you want to blaze new trails? Many if not most of the GIS-related jobs of the future have not even been invented yet, so market yourself! Propose a new position in an organization that you are interested in. Make your case that you are the perfect person to staff that proposed position!
Any such attempt of the "most important" themes is subject to discussion: I welcome your feedback!
–Joseph Kerski, Esri Education Manager.
Joseph Kerski, Geographer, has a background in government, academia, and industry. He serves as Education Manager for Environmental Systems Research Institute (Esri) in Colorado, USA. He served for 21 years as Geographer at the US Geological Survey and at the US Census Bureau. Follow Joseph on Twitter @josephkerski
For more articles that touch on the topic of GIS in Education see HERE