Career Opportunities

Public Sector

laughing studentsGIS professionals often find work with federal agencies such as the U.S. Geological Survey, Bureau of Land Management, Army Corps of Engineers, Forest Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Imagery and Mapping Agency, and Federal Emergency Management Agency.

In addition to the federal agencies named above, state and local agencies that need GIS skills include law enforcement, water and sewer agencies, tax assessors, planning and zoning departments, emergency bureaus, and homeland security.

Private Sector

The vast majority of available jobs are with scientific (including medical fields), engineering, architectural, and technology firms. The private sector also employs GIS professionals in specialty mapping firms, surveying and land companies, oil, electric, and gas utilities, real estate agencies, banks and insurance companies, construction companies, and national businesses that regularly seek new franchise locations.


Nonprofit organizations such as environmental groups also need GIS professionals on a regular or consulting basis. Increasingly, private foundations use GIS as their main tool; examples include Conservation International which uses GIS as their method for identifying threatened habitats, and the Keoge Foundation which uses GIS extensively for climate modeling.

Some Projections

Students completing the certificate program will gain vital competency relevant to today's workforce in the areas of geospatial information technology. An already large $5 billion U.S. market in GIScience technologies is projected to increase to $30 billion within the span of the next few years, even with the economic downturn. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics provides the following growth projections for GIS occupations between 2010 and 2020:

  • urban and regional planners - 7% increase
  • surveying and mapping technicians - 16% increase
  • cartographers and photogrammetrists - 22% increase
  • survey researchers - 24%
  • GIS technicians - 25% increase
  • geospatial information scientists and technologists - 25% increase
  • remote sensing scientists and technologists - 44% increase
  • precision agriculture technicians - 54% increase 

Research conducted among businesses, and state and federal agencies showed overwhelming support and a strong need for professionals who can use GIS skills to assess real-world problems and provide solutions.

Money Magazine reported that GIS analysis is one of the top 100 best jobs in America, and ranks number five on the list of top 10 low-stress jobs in America. Science Magazine notes that the use of geospatial technology is changing the way business is conducted throughout the world.