Geographic Information Systems




Geography Classes


Instructor Notes


Events / Instructors



Government Agencies, Consulting Firms, Private Companies and Professionals on Sierra College Advisory Committee (2007)

  • Thinking about a career paths in the GIS and related industry? Here are some insightful comments regarding important questions posed to the committee.

  • At the bottom you will see a list of their agency / company names.

1) What type of problems are you solving in the real world?

"Wetland delinations& impacts, sensitive species impacts"

"Planning new development in a responsible way"

"Natural resource planning and monitoring, archaeology identification and spatial analysis, water modeling and analyis"

"Mapping biological resources, preservation and mitigation"

"Water & sewer modelling, facilities location, GIS project management"

2) What are soft and hard skills for a career in GIS?

"Know ArcGIS, Spatial & 3D Analyst, GPS (Trimble), CAD, Remote Sensing, Analytical reasoning – scientific process."

"... Be open, work independently, Bachelor degree (often necessary for government jobs)"

"Ability to communicate technical concepts, skill in working with database structures, basic spatial and mapping concepts, analytical compatibility."

"Good communication skills, work independently, GPS, ArcGIS, data integration & management, aerial imagery and raster data manipulation / analysis."

"Soft: knowledge of breadth of environmental sciences, planning, and application of GIS to these fields and others.  Hard: data management skills, cartography, spatial mindset, knowledge of tools."

"Diversity in hardware and software.  Database management."

"Ability to work through tedious technical hardware and software challenges."

"Customer service, organizational skills, good written and verbal communication, GIS software skills, programming & computer networking, web-based applications, geography, cartography, logical reasoning and trouble-shooting skills."

3) What are some words of wisdom?

"Be a generalist. Don't get too focused on any one aspect of the field -- both in GIS and in your general education.  GIS is used in many industries so it is best to be flexible."

"Being into imagery, maps, geology or any of the earth sciences makes it more attractive."

"Learn statistics; don't focus on tools, rather applications of the tools."

"Learn 3rd party applications to ArcGIS.  Learn how to incorporate other types of data and programs.  Strong background in databases and internet applications."

"... Prepare to be frustrated and detail oriented.  Also, remember that GIS / GPS is just one tool in the toolbox and having experience in GIS is just another skill that will increase your likelihood of being hired."

"Make contacts in the professional field."

4) What is the entry-level pay and growth prospects?

$30,000 to $40,000 -- "growth is great once you put time in and understand what you are doing.  I think that it's more important to sell yourself and understand GIS (to get on the higher end of the payscale)."
Gov't $20 to $25 / per hour.  Intern $10 to $13 / per hour. 

"Growth process my be slow so you can't expect to stay with the same organization to move up.  Starting pay at $42,000."

"GIS Tech / GIS Tech I & II = $35,000 and GIS Analyst I & II = $45,000"

5) Here is a list of professionals in action. If you are interested in speaking with them for more information on what they do, please contact Sean Booth at (916) 781-0437. I have provided a screen capture of their web page, which you can further pursue on your own.