GIS Geographer

Gather census, economic, and other info to add to GIS products.

Quick Stats


Salary Range
$42,000 – $102,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do GIS Geographers do?

Given enough time, one talented Cartographer can make a map without help from anyone. Ask that Cartographer to build a geographic information systems (GIS) product alone, however, and they may simply laugh while walking away. GIS systems add incredible detail to a standard map, and as a GIS Geographer, you rely on documents produced by scores of other people. Without those documents, a GIS Geographer’s work would take twice as long.

At the beginning of a project, you’re given a map to augment. You study aerial photographs of the area to make sure the map is correct. Then, you look for published reports detailing the plants and animals that live in the area. You might compare the map you’re updating with older versions, looking for changes between the printed editions and coming up with explanations for the discrepancies.

GIS Geographers also study the people who live within the area shown on the map. Census reports, crime data, and economic studies are all fair data-mining sources, and you study them carefully.

Once all of your data is amassed, you give it to the GIS Technician and ask them to enter it into the GIS system. When this work is done, you check it closely to make sure the system is complete and contains no errors. When your task is done, you notify your GIS Coordinator.

On rare occasions, you may not be able to find the information on the area you’ve been assigned. When this happens, you notify your GIS Coordinator and ask for a deadline extension. Then, you strap on your gear and head out to canvass the area yourself, taking measurements and interviewing Business Owners and residents.

Should I be a GIS Geographer?

You should have a master's degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Independent: You enjoy flying solo and doing things your own way.
  • Ready for a Challenge: You jump into new projects with initiative and drive.
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.

  • Also known as: GIS Program Director

    How to become a GIS Geographer

    Most GIS Geographers have a Doctorate or a Master's degree. Start by getting your Bachelor's degree. Chart?chd=s:aaa49w&chl=|||bachelor%27s+%2840%25%29|master%27s+%2844%25%29|doctorate+%2816%25%29&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,0,44
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