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Geospatial Information Scientists and Technologists

Overview | Specific Work Activities | Common Work Activities | Related Occupations | Skills and Abilities | Working Conditions | Physical Demands | Knowledge | Interests | Wages | Current Employment | Outlook | Helpful High School Courses | Preparation | Related Educational Programs | Hiring Practices | Licensing/Certification/Designation/Registration | Advancement Opportunities | Additional Sources of Information | Back to Green Careers

At a Glance

  • Spend a lot of time on computers
  • Most have a bachelor's degree
  • Work with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to produce maps and analyze data
  • Often work in teams
  • Earn $79,420 per year (Hawaii median)


Geospatial information scientists and technologists use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and other software. They study how to best use physical space.

Geospatial information scientists and technologists measure and study how people use the space around them. This is related to geography -- the study of the earth’s features, climate, resources, and population. For many people, the field of geography equals the study of maps. Maps are an important form of geospatial information, but there are many other types of data that have nothing to do with getting from point A to point B.

For example, they might examine the best place to build a new school, based on an area’s population of school-agepdfchildren and how many kids are expected to be born or move into an area. Or, they might analyze the flow of traffic to see where to build a new bridge.

Geospatial information scientists and technologists use GIS technology to produce and analyze data. They also use Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and aerial and remote sensing technology. In addition to being knowledgeable in science, they must be good at using sophisticated computer software, including programming and data analysis. They must also be good at reporting the results of GIS maps and studies in a way that is clear to non-technical people.

Geospatial information scientists and technologists can use their GIS and GPS skills in a variety of fields. Examples include agriculture, construction, energy, natural resources, and regional planning.

This occupation has the potential to be part of the growing green economy because of its focus on efficiency and sustainability. Because it has such wide applications, it can be used to help different industries find the best ways to use and protect the earth’s natural resources.

Geospatial information scientists and technologists must also be good at working with clients. Often, their work will be project-based according to a client’s needs. Therefore, they must be skilled at following budgets and schedules and communicating effectively in meetings.


Specific Work Activities

The following list of occupational tasks is specific to geospatial information scientists and technologists.
  • Produce data, maps, tables, or reports using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology.
  • Coordinate GIS projects, including reports and meetings with clients as well as schedules and budgets.
  • Provide technical expertise in GIS technology to clients or users.
  • Create, analyze, report, or transfer data using special software.
  • Maintain existing systems. Research future changes to GIS systems.
  • Provide technical support for GIS mapping software.
  • Perform computer programming, data analysis, or software development for GIS.
  • Lead, train, or supervise technicians or related staff in GIS.
  • Collect or integrate GIS data, such as remote sensing and cartographic data, for inclusion in maps.
  • Meet with clients to discuss topics such as technical specifications, solutions, and operational problems.


Common Work Activities

Geospatial information scientists and technologists perform the following list of tasks, but the tasks are common to many occupations.
  • Use computers.
  • Process information.
  • Get information needed to do the job.
  • Update and use job-related knowledge.
  • Communicate with supervisors, peers, or subordinates.
  • Analyze data or information.
  • Make decisions and solve problems.
  • Think creatively.
  • Communicate with people from outside the organization.
  • Identify objects, actions, and events.
  • Organize, plan, and prioritize work.
  • Document and record information.
  • Explain the meaning of information to others.
  • Establish and maintain relationships.
  • Coordinate the work and activities of others.
  • Provide advice and consultation to others.
  • Develops goals and strategies.
  • Teach others.
  • Evaluate information against standards.
  • Estimate sizes, quantities, time, cost, or materials needed.


Related Occupations

Occupational Clusters:

  • Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

Related Occupations:

Hawaii Career Pathways:

  • Industrial & Engineering Technology

Related O*NET Specialties:


Skills and Abilities

Geospatial information scientists and technologists need to:


  • Read and understand written information.
  • Express ideas clearly when speaking and writing.

Reason and Problem Solve

  • Combine several pieces of information and draw conclusions.
  • Develop rules or follow guidelines when arranging items.
  • Notice when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong.
  • Use reasoning to discover answers to problems.
  • Concentrate and not be distracted while performing a task.
  • Think of new ideas or original and creative ways to solve problems.

Use Math and Science

  • Choose a mathematical method or formula to solve problems.

Perceive and Visualize

  • Identify a pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in distracting material.
  • Imagine how something will look if it is moved around or its parts are rearranged.
  • Quickly and accurately compare letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns.


Working Conditions

In a typical work setting, geospatial information scientists and technologists:

Interpersonal Relationships

  • Have a low to medium high level of social interaction. They spend time talking to other technologists, managers, and clients, but also spend time alone analyzing data.
  • Communicate with people daily by telephone, e-mail, and in person.
  • Are somewhat responsible for the work done by others.
  • Write letters and memos on a weekly basis.
  • Work as part of a project team.

Physical Work Conditions

  • Almost always work indoors. May work outdoors on occasion.

Work Performance

  • Must be very exact and accurate when analyzing data.
  • Rarely consult a supervisor before making a decisions or setting tasks and goals.
  • Meet strict daily and weekly deadlines. This makes the work atmosphere somewhat competitive.
  • Often make decisions that strongly impact coworkers and their company.
  • Repeat the same physical and mental tasks.

Hours / Travel

  • Usually work a standard work week. They may work overtime to meet project deadlines.


Physical Demands

Geospatial information scientists and technologists frequently:

  • Sit for long periods of time.
  • Repeat the same movements.
  • Use their hands to handle, control, or feel objects, tools, or controls.

It is important for geospatial information scientists and technologists to be able to:

  • See details of objects that are less than a few feet away.
  • Speak clearly so listeners can understand.
  • Understand the speech of another person.
  • Use fingers to grasp, move, or assemble very small objects.

It is not as important, but still necessary, for geospatial information scientists and technologists to be able to:

  • See differences between colors, shades, and brightness.
  • See details of objects that are more than a few feet away.
  • Make quick, precise adjustments to machine controls.
  • Hold the arm and hand in one position or hold the hand steady while moving the arm.
  • Use one or two hands to grasp, move, or assemble objects.



Geospatial information scientists and technologists need knowledge in the following areas:
  • Geography: Knowledge of land, sea, and air masses. Also includes knowledge of how to describe their location, features, and relationships.
  • Computers and Electronics: Knowledge of computer hardware and software.
  • English Language: Knowledge of the meaning, spelling, and use of the English language.
  • Customer and Personal Service: Knowledge of providing special services to customers based on their needs.
  • Mathematics: Knowledge of the rules and uses of numbers. Areas of knowledge include arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and statistics.
  • Engineering and Technology: Knowledge of how to build machines, buildings, and other things. Also includes knowledge of how to use computers, machines, and tools to do work more usefully.
  • Administration and Management: Knowledge of managing the operations of a business, company, or group.
  • Design: Knowledge of making and using plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
  • Education and Training: Knowledge of teaching and the methods involved in learning and instruction.



Geospatial information scientists and technologists are people who tend to:
  • Consider achievement important. They like to see the results of their work and to use their strongest abilities. They like to get a feeling of accomplishment from their work.
  • Consider independence important. They like to make decisions and try out ideas on their own. They prefer jobs where they can plan their work with little supervision.
  • Consider good working conditions important. They like jobs offering steady employment and good pay. They want employment that fits their individual work style. They may prefer doing a variety of tasks, working alone, or being busy all the time.
  • Consider recognition important. They like to work in jobs which have opportunities for them to advance, be recognized for their work, and direct and instruct others. They usually prefer jobs in which they are looked up to by others.
  • Consider relationships important. They like to work in a friendly, non-competitive environment. They like to do things for other people. They prefer jobs where they are not pressured to do things that go against their sense of right and wrong.
  • Have investigative interests. They like work activities that have to do with ideas and thinking. They like to search for facts and figure out solutions to problems mentally.
  • Have realistic interests. They like work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They like to work with plants, animals, and physical materials such as wood, tools, and machinery. They often prefer to work outside.
  • Have conventional interests. They like work activities that follow set procedures, routines, and standards. They like to work with data and detail. They prefer working where there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Occupational Interest Codes:

  • IRC



Wages vary by employer and area of the country. The individual's specialty and level of experience and responsibility also affect wages. Those who have supervisory duties usually earn higher wages.

Geospatial information scientists and technologists who work full time usually receive benefits. Typical benefits include sick leave, paid vacation, and health insurance. Some employers also provide a retirement plan.

Hawaii Hourly


United States Hourly


Current Employment

Specific information about the number of geospatial information scientists and technologists in Hawaii and nationally is not available.

Major employers:

  • Consulting firms
  • Local, state, and federal government agencies



In Hawaii, outlook information is not available specifically for geospatial information scientists and technologists. However, they are part of a larger group of "computer specialists, all other." Slower than average employment growth is expected for workers in this group through 2018.

Nationally, the number of workers in this group is expected to grow faster than average through 2018. The table below provides information about the number of workers in this occupation in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

An increase in business and economic activity worldwide should spur demand for geospatial information scientists and technologists. Opportunities will be best for scientists and technologists with strong technical, computing, and communication skills.

The use of advanced technologies, such as GPS, and GIS, will continue to increase both the accuracy and productivity of these workers. This will limit job growth to some extent. However, job openings will continue to arise from the need to replace workers who leave this occupation.

The table below provides information about the number of workers in this occupation in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Employment Change


Helpful High School Courses

In high school, take classes that prepare you for college. A college preparatory curriculum may be different from our state's graduation requirements. Click here for public school graduation requirements for students graduating in 2011 or 2012. Click here for public school graduation requirements for students graduating in 2013 or later. If you attend a private school, check with your school counselor for graduation requirements. Geospatial information scientists and technologists need a strong background in math and science. Try to take math classes through Trigonometry and science classes through Physics.

You should also consider taking some advanced courses in high school. This includes Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses if they are available in your school. If you do well in these courses, you may receive college credit for them. Advanced courses can also strengthen your college application.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this occupation include:
  • Computer Applications
  • Computer Programming
  • Computer Science
  • Economics
  • Geography
  • Keyboarding

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Click here for examples of activities and groups that may be available in your high school or community.



To work as a geospatial information scientist and technologist, you must:
  • have a high school diploma or GED
  • complete at least a two-year degree in geospatial information or a related field
  • have related work experience;
  • have strong math skills
  • have a good eye for detail; and
  • have good communication skills.

Education after high school

Almost all geospatial information scientists and technologists have a bachelor’s degree in geography, civil engineering, planning, surveying and mapping, or a physical science. In addition, more colleges and universities are offering certificates in geospatial engineering, photogrammetry, or a related field. These programs have a heavy emphasis on using GIS and GPS software. As a student you should also take courses in economics, history, and urban studies.

Technologists can study for this field by gaining an associate degree in geospatial information or a related field and working their way into this occupation through experience. However, the standard education level is a bachelor’s degree.

You need a doctoral (Ph.D.) degree to teach geography and geospatial information at a college. Many colleges and universities offer advanced degrees in geography.

Work experience

Working as a research assistant for a geographer is good experience for this field. Look for this kind of work when you are a college student. Or consider participating in an internship. An internship offers you a chance to apply what you have learned in the classroom to a work situation. It also allows you to build skills and make contacts with people in the field.

On-the-job training

It is common for newly hired geospatial information scientists and technologists to receive some on-the-job training. This varies by employer, and can last anywhere from a month to a year.


Related Educational Programs:

  • Computer and Information Sciences
  • Construction Trades
  • Drafting/Design Technologies
  • Engineering
  • Engineering Technologies
  • Geography
  • Geological and Earth Sciences


Hiring Practices

Employers look for technologists who have at least a two-year degree in geospatial information or a related field and work experience. Employers require scientists to have at least a bachelor's degree. For both technologists and scientists, employers look for applicants with strong technical, computing, and communication skills. Work experience or coursework in the particular field of the employer, such as urban planning or agriculture, is often helpful in getting hired.


Licensing / Certification / Designation / Registration

Geospatial Information Scientists and Technologists , currently does not have any information pertaining to licensing, certification, designation or registration.


Advancement Opportunities

Experienced geospatial scientists may advance to jobs that require higher levels of skill and competency. These include jobs in research, administration, and environmental planning. You usually need several years of experience and at least a master's degree to advance.

Technologists usually begin performing more basic tasks and advance through experience. Those with aptitude and leadership ability may move into lead technologist or supervisory roles. They typically must gain at least a bachelor’s degree to move into more advanced positions.


Additional Sources of Information

Library References

  • "Occupational Outlook Handbook" (Free on the Internet or $23.00 paper cover/$39.00 hard cover to purchase; p. 142)
    Bulletin 2800
    Publication Date: 2010-2011
    Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information Available on the Internet


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Labor Market Information

Data Sources
Occupational Wage Rates: Hawaii Dept. of Labor and Industrial Relations, Research and Statistics Office, OES BLS (State & Hon) and LEWIS (Other Counties)
The median wage is the estimated 50th percentile; 50 percent of workers in an occupation earn less than the median wage, and 50 percent earn more than the median wage. Entry level and Experienced wage rates represent the means of the lower 1/3 and upper 2/3 of the wage distribution, respectively. Data is from an annual survey.
Top Occupations Advertised Online: Online advertised jobs data