There are numerous paths you may take and skills to learn when you choose to build a GIS career. At its core is a firm understanding of GIS software and technologies which will open the doors to many flavors of geography jobs because you possess very unique skills, including:
- Knowledge of describing the physical location in a scientific manner
- Analytical problem solving as a result of working with GIS software tools
- Information gathering tactics as part of your normal work routine
- A firm understanding of computer science
There are plenty of jobs in the market, too, which range from positions such as interning, technician, analyst, coordinator, manager, and more.
Just as you would expect with any career, after putting in the effort, there be a time when you would like to scale back your involvement and begin to settle toward retirement. This time, however, may be a moment when you have a love for the industry and career, you’d like to contribute, but being completely involved with the day-to-day operations for a business, company, or independent research may not be your fancy.
A sensible option for those that have completed their time in the field could be in writing and journalism.
The experience and expertise you’ve gained over the time you’ve spent in GIS will allow you to remain active within the industry, allow you to contribute, and has the potential to earn money through publications. Additionally, the choice in writing or journalism may coincide with your choice of travel and vacations to which you are essentially paying yourself to explore the world.
Jeff Bartel, a travel expert, has summarized a great idea called “staycation” which is the concept of taking your time to truly explore the area, learn the culture, experience the geography, and finding a way to integrate the travel as part of your lifestyle.
“Cities, towns, and villages all contain history and other interesting things that make it unique from other places. Even though the life of the United States has been shorter than other countries, there is a lot of history all around us. Going to explore architecture, monuments, and museums in the area can reveal a lot about where a person lives. An interest in history isn’t required to find something fun though. Touring the nightlife of a city, or their rich culinary tradition can be a vacation in and of itself.”
Consider the wealth of opportunity you could gain by catering your travel style to fit a slower, long-term involvement. During your time as a GIS professional you may have been confined to a budget provided by funding or the scope of the job but now you can return to your favorite, desired locations to explore and leverage your knowledge of geographic information systems to write for respectable publications within the field.
In many ways you have reversed your role from student to teacher; you once learned the ropes and entered a GIS career but now you have the opportunity to educate others that are starting. The trends for GIS are going up-and-up, which means it needs more people to share their expertise to grow the industry; there is an additional benefit to all of this: your commitment to the industry and coverage of its events and developments means you can stay on top of emerging technologies, which will expand your skill set if you ever choose to re-enter your old career.
To conclude, careers in GIS create wonderful opportunities to explore and understand our world and it doesn’t have to stop there when you decide to leave the position. You can leverage your skills and expertise to give back to the industry, and make a living while traveling, through this choice in a writing or journalism. What’s not to lose?
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