Map Out a New Career in GIS
In the early years, only government map makers and urban planners were familiar with geographic information systems, or GIS. But with the evolution of modern computing, private sector companies began unleashing its powerful capabilities, creating a host of new career opportunities for IT professionals. Now retailers are using GIS to conduct geospatial data analysis before selecting locations for new stores. The media relies on GIS mapping technology to keep the public informed about street closures and traffic snarls. A recovering economy, along with a projected shortage of trained professionals, will encourage employers to embrace career changers, while experienced GIS professionals enjoy boundless opportunities.There are more than 300 openings for GIS professionals on Dice, including programmers, developers and analysts. So heed these tips to plot a course to a new career in GIS. Ideal Candidates Developers or programmers with C++, .NET or Java experience and geospatial aptitude can easily transition to GIS along with DBAs, project managers and data analysts. If you can visualize objects in space or were a star pupil in geography class, you probably possess the innate skills to succeed. If you're not sure whether GIS is right for you, software manufacturer ESRI offers risk-free opportunities to test your abilities. You can create maps on the company Web site or enter the annual mashup challenge for budding GIS enthusiasts. Winners earn cash and perhaps a new career, because the company uses the contest to identify emerging talent according to ESRI staffing manager Jason Otero. Pitch an Idea If your company hasn't discovered the benefits of GIS, take the initiative and identify a business problem along with a GIS solution. In turn, your grateful employer may offer to pay for your certification. Ultimately you'll be able to market your newly acquired expertise to others. Can't think of an idea? Network with members of the GIS community or join a local users group to uncover transferrable solutions from similar industries Pitch Yourself "Some positions require experience, but we're open to talking to IT professionals who understand algorithms and want to learn GIS," says Tarun Diwan, technology recruiter for TeleNav a developer of mobile GPS apps based in Sunnyvale, Calif.