Geospatial information systems (GIS) help create maps that do more than show distances between points: They illustrate in layered images streets, homes, utilities, restaurants and much more. GIS analysts interpret this data to build the maps.
Median Versus Average
As of May 2012, GIS analysts had a median salary of $27.62 per hour, or $57,440 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The average pay was $29.63 per hour, or $61,640 per year. However, some GIS analysts earned as little as $16.76 per hour, or $34,850 per year and some made as much as $45.66 per hour, or $94,980 per year.
Where the Money Is
The wages for GIS analysts vary from employer to employer. Most GIS analysts find employment with architectural and engineering firms. According to the BLS, GIS analysts working in this industry segment earn an average wage of $28.91 per hour, or $60,130 per year. Local governments are the next largest employer of GIS analysts. Local governments pay an average of $28.58 per hour, or $59,446.40 per year. Third place in levels of employment goes to management and technical consulting services. This type of employment pays and average of $29.71 per hour, or $61,800 per year.
Contributing to Higher Wages
Higher pay can come with specialized training, such as in hydrography, the process of underwater surveying. Companies specializing in these services, such as Fugro Marine Services, C & C Technologies or Orion Marine Group hire GIS analysts to develop GIS maps of the ocean floor that specify information related to oil and gas exploration and production. Higher pay may be also be tied to the local cost of living, such as that in California.
Becoming a GIS Analyst
Becoming a GIS analyst generally requires a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as geography or forestry and surveying. Additional training in GIS systems is required. The training can last between six months and a year. For those who work in offshore oil and gas consulting, additional training in hydrography -- the science of underwater surveying -- is also required.
Job Growth Projections
The BLS estimates that GIS jobs growth will be 22 percent between 2010 and 2020, exceeding the 14 percent average growth for all occupations during the period.
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