Options For Learning GIS

We’ve staffed our consulting firm with nearly two dozen team members over the last two years and something that jumped out to us early on is that while a four year degree in Data (Data Science, Data Analytics, GIS…) is helpful, it’s by no means a requirement for success doing the work we do for clients. We have found that interest and strength in the following broad areas is incredibly useful for success in a GIS role:

  • Technological
  • Interested in solving problems
  • Attention to detail
  • Team player
  • Good written and verbal communication skills
  • Reliable
  • Good with deadlines
  • Ok with giving and receiving feedback

So, if the above bullet items are strengths of yours, you may want to explore a career in GIS! If you would like to get some classes under your belt to strengthen your resume, here are some options that we feel are worth exploring:

Google Data Analytics Certificate – This certificate is part of the “Grow with Google” program which provides training in high-growth fields. There are 8 courses, all of which are 100% virtual, self paced, and there are opportunities to work on real-world examples. There are scholarships available for this program as well.

Esri MOOCs – MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course and Esri is a software platform that much of the GIS functionality you see/experience is built upon. The Esri MOOCs are free, online, and self paced – though the courses do have a beginning and end date so you need to start/finish within that time frame.

Community Colleges – There are over 1000 community colleges in the United States and many offer credit and/or non-credit Data Analytics classes. Location is often moot since most community colleges now offer online options, but we’ll link to the community college in Madison – the city where we’re headquartered. Madison College offers a 3-5 course Data Analytics Badge.

Four Year Colleges – While we have team members who attend/have attended many colleges throughout the US, a high number of our interns are associated with University of Wisconsin Madison. The Data Science programs there are fairly new and growing rapidly. We were really impressed to learn about a class that’s currently offered at UW Madison called Data Science In Madison as the students tap into public data to solve real-time, real-world problems.

As you can see, there are ways to strengthen your resume for GIS positions that will fit any budget and any time table. From free to many thousands of dollars and from several weeks to several years – you can dive into the best fit for your goals. Pro tip: Enroll in a course and gain familiarity with GIS and then begin applying for internships and entry level positions – you can always continue your education while you’re working!

PS: We always include a handful of GIS jobs available around the world in our quarterly email newsletter. If you’re not signed up for the newsletter, click here to join the mailing list!