Strong Knowledge of GIS Opens Doors for Job Applicants

by | Jan 15, 2014

AURORA, Colo., Jan. 14, 2014”Professionals are finding that the job market demands even greater levels of education and expert knowledge. Many are turning to geographic information systems (GIS) programs to acquire the most sought after skills to compete in this tight job market.

There is a spatial component to just about every discipline or career field and regardless of your interests, GIS can be applied in some way to draw new insights to a particular industry, says Stephen McElroy, GIS program chair at American Sentinel University. GIS is being used throughout society more widely than ever before and offers exciting opportunities for highly educated professionals to discover and explore the niche that GIS fills in their organizations.

Experts say that many of the 4 million jobs currently open in the United States are vacant because there is a shortage of skills and a need for more highly educated workers and currently GIS skills are sorely lacking in today's job market, according to the Boston Globe.

Most Sought After Skills

Dr. McElroy says that technical proficiency and domain expertise are critical, but soft skills such as communications, critical thinking, problem-solving and teamwork abilities are the types of skills that help meld the software experience when combined with industry-specific knowledge to produce a well-rounded job candidate in both the private and public sectors.

A GIS skill set can help a job applicant to differentiate themselves from the larger pool of applicants. Those professionals that are able to highlight their skills and experience in these areas will shine, says Dr. McElroy.

He adds that having a strong knowledge of GIS can open doors for job candidates because of the increased focus on enterprise systems, big data, analytics and their use throughout an organization.

The ability to apply geospatial thinking to a wide range of business processes and workplace activities has made the GIS professional a highly-valued employee, says Dr. McElroy. And it could be the key to opening doors to new opportunities which GIS tools can be applied in creative industries that have not employed geospatial strategies in the past.

Data analysis and visualization skills have become important in a number of industries because professionals with an understanding of spatial analysis and visualization can apply mapping technologies to bring that data to life. Maps offer a very simple and intuitive way to visualize patterns and trends that are almost always hidden in alphanumeric databases.

Visual learning is a key way humans process information, so well-constructed maps provide an ideal vehicle to synthesize complex business data, adds Dr. McElroy.

Path to Success

Dr. McElroy points out that lifelong learning is a hallmark of an active and productive professional so career advancement and success depends on regular and sustained efforts to remain current in the field of geospatial technologies while enhancing in-demand skills through a wide variety of professional development activities.

Increasingly, an advanced degree in GIS or graduate certificate may be required for career advancement or a job promotion. For example, a GIS technician looking for a promotion to a GIS analyst may need a master's degree to meet the education requirements for a higher-level job classification.

While having a bachelor's degree might meet the minimum requirement for consideration, Dr. McElroy says having a master's degree demonstrates two additional years of education and enhanced marketable skills.

Advancing your GIS degree with an online master's degree or certificate will help differentiate a candidate from the masses, he adds. The marketplace is changing, so should your strategic plan. It's important to build your credentials, professional background and continue your education in a flexible online environment to be a competitive force in the job market.

Learn more about American Sentinel University's online GIS programs at

About American Sentinel University

American Sentinel University delivers the competitive advantages of accredited associate, bachelor’s and master’s online degree programs focused on the needs of high-growth sectors, including information technology, computer science, GIS masters programs, online GIS certificates, computer information systems and business intelligence degrees. The university is accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC), which is listed by the U.S. Department of Education as a nationally recognized accrediting agency and is a recognized member of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.


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