How To Become a Sucessful Geospatial Analyst in 9 Steps

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated August 15, 2022 | Published August 25, 2021

Updated August 15, 2022

Published August 25, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you are interested in becoming a geospatial analyst, there are several steps you may take to develop your educational and experiential qualifications for such positions. Learning about these steps may help you when pursuing this career path. In this article, we discuss what a geospatial analyst is, describe what they typically do, explain how to become one using a nine-step guide, list some common skills that they have and provide information relating to their average salary.

What is a geospatial analyst?

A geospatial analyst applies the principles of mapping and spatial analysis to real-world problems. Using software and data from a variety of sources, geospatial analysts create two and three-dimensional maps that present information in a concise format. Geospatial analysts work with geographical data, usually referred to as GIS data. They collect GIS data by taking a series of geographic coordinates and converting them into points on a map. Geospatial analysts use these points to create layers of information that they can overlay on a map. As a result, geospatial analysts produce maps that show spatial representations of information.

What do geospatial analysts do?

Geospatial analysts use data to produce maps that depict real-world phenomena. This may include maps of demographics, economics, public health, or social change. Geospatial analysts commonly use mapping software to gather, analyze, and present data. Geospatial analysts may work on their own to produce reports for clients, or they may work in teams. For example, a government agency may employ geospatial analysts to create maps that depict demographics. These maps may help determine where to offer social services, where to locate new schools or what types of neighborhoods are most in need of community development.

Geospatial analysts may work in a variety of industries. For example, geospatial analysts may work for a real estate company to determine where to build commercial or residential developments. They may work for a utility company to determine where to place new electrical lines. They may work for a local government to determine where to place new roads.

Related: 16 Types of Analysts and What They Do

How to become a geospatial analyst

Here are nine steps that may help you become a geospatial analyst:

1. Pursue an undergraduate and graduate degree

There are many paths to becoming a geospatial analyst, but most professionals start by pursuing a bachelor's degree in geography, cartography or a related field. These bachelor's degrees may provide a foundation in geography and cartographic principles and practices and focus on the application of technology to the discipline. In addition to a bachelor's degree, a number of geospatial analysts pursue a graduate degree in geography cartography, computer science or geospatial information systems A graduate degree in one of these areas provides additional depth in the theoretical, methodological and technical aspects of the discipline.

Related: 20 Jobs You Can Get With a Geography Degree

2. Develop proficiency in software

Geospatial analysts often have a well-developed understanding of a variety of software programs. Geospatial analysts often use a variety of software to collect, store, align and analyze geographical data. They may use ArcGIS, which is a software program used to collect, store and analyze geographic data. They may also use ArcView, which is a software program used to collect and store geographic data. To develop this proficiency, you may take courses in specific types of software or general courses about geospatial software.

3. Develop proficiency in hardware

Geospatial analysts often also have a well-developed understanding of hardware systems and technologies. Geospatial analysts often use hardware systems to collect, store, analyze and present geographic data. They may use global positioning systems (GPS), which are used to collect geographical data. They may also use field spectroscopy systems, which are used to collect spectral data.

Related: 10 Different Jobs in Geoinformatics You Can Explore

4. Improve ability in remote sensing

Geospatial analysts are often responsible for interpreting remote sensing data. They may collect remote sensing data, such as satellite imagery or aerial photography, using remote sensing satellite or aircraft platforms. Remote sensing analysts use these data to identify patterns and changes on the Earth's surface. To interpret remote sensing data, you may read professional literature, take courses, and complete assignments that focus on remote sensing data analysis.

5. Advance knowledge of photogrammetry

Geospatial analysts often use photogrammetric software programs to analyze aerial photographs. Photogrammetric software programs can identify features in aerial photographs, measure the features, and construct three-dimensional models of the features. To develop your knowledge of photogrammetry, you may read professional literature, take courses, and complete assignments that focus on photogrammetric software use.

Related: What Is a Cartographer and What Are the Requirements To Become One?

6. Work with Geographic Information Systems

Geographic Information Systems, or GIS, is a system designed to store, display, analyze and manage geographical data. A GIS allows you to apply a multitude of tools and techniques to examine the relationships between different layers of geographical data. GIS technology is a powerful tool for geospatial analysts. To develop proficiency with GIS technology, you may take courses, read professional literature, and complete assignments that focus on GIS.

7. Pursue a certification

Many geospatial analysts pursue certification to demonstrate their knowledge and skills. The most common certifications for geospatial analysts are the Certified Geographic Information Systems Professional (GISP), the Certified Cartographer (ICC), and the Associate Geographic Information Scientist (AGIS). You may pursue certification by completing a certification exam or by obtaining a minimum amount of experience in the field. For example, In order to become a GISP, you must complete a minimum of five years of experience in the field.

8. Join a professional organization

There are many professional organizations that geospatial analysts can join. By joining a professional organization, you can network with other professionals and learn about new technologies that are available in the field. One of the most common professional organizations for geospatial analysts is the Association for Geographic Information (AGI). Other organizations that geospatial analysts may join include the Geospatial Information Society, the International Cartographic Association, and the International Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing.

Related: 51 In-Demand Tech Skills for Technology Careers

9. Apply for positions

There are numerous career opportunities for geospatial analysts. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the employment of geospatial analysts may grow by 4% between 2019 and 2029. As the demand for geospatial data increases, employers may need more geospatial analysts to collect, analyze and disseminate data. In addition to employment in private organizations, geospatial analysts may find employment in the federal government or at local, state and federal agencies.

Important skills for geospatial analysts

Here is a list of skills that are important for geospatial analysts:

  • Knowledge of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and spatial analysis software

  • Familiarity with remote sensing and survey methods and their application to problems in geospatial analysis

  • Ability to work with large, complex data sets and manage large data files

  • Ability to translate data from one format into another

  • Ability to produce maps and other visualizations of geographic data

  • Ability to write computer programs to automate repetitive or complex tasks

  • Comfort with computing, programming, and mathematics

  • Excellent verbal and written communications skills

  • Ability to work independently and in teams

  • Ability to manage multiple, simultaneous tasks

Average salary

The average salary for geospatial analysts is $59,870 per year. Your salary may vary depending on the type of employers, such as a private company or a government agency. Your salary may also increase based on your experience, skills, education and technical abilities.

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