Career Development

What Does a GIS Manager Do?

Find out what a GIS manager does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a GIS manager.

GIS stands for Geographic Information Systems. A GIS manager is responsible for overseeing the creation and maintenance of a geographic information system, which is used to store, manage, analyze, and display all types of data that have a location component.

GIS managers are often tasked with developing new systems or applications based on customer requests or industry trends. They may also be responsible for training staff on how to use the GIS software effectively, as well as resolving any issues that arise with the system’s functionality.

GIS Manager Job Duties

A GIS manager typically has a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Developing a long-term strategy for using GIS technology, including establishing goals and objectives for the department or company as a whole
  • Developing and maintaining relationships with clients and other departments within an organization to ensure effective communication and collaboration with other teams
  • Monitoring technological developments in the field of GIS, updating software as needed, and supervising staff who perform these tasks
  • Overseeing the creation of maps, charts, and other visual representations of data to be used for business purposes
  • Managing staff members in an organization’s GIS department, including hiring new employees as needed, providing training on new technologies, and evaluating performance
  • Conducting research on new technologies in GIS and mapping applications to determine which methodologies will best serve an organization’s needs
  • Evaluating existing GIS systems to determine whether they are meeting the organization’s needs and goals
  • Creating an organizational structure for GIS technology that maximizes efficiency and productivity
  • Managing budgets for GIS projects and overseeing expenditures to ensure that funds are used efficiently

GIS Manager Salary & Outlook

GIS manager salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the size and industry of the company. They may also earn additional compensation in the form of bonuses.

  • Median Annual Salary: $85,000 ($40.87/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $152,000 ($73.08/hour)

The employment of GIS managers is expected to grow faster than average over the next decade.

GIS technology is becoming more common in a variety of industries, and these workers will be needed to install and maintain GIS systems and software. In addition, as businesses continue to use GIS technology, demand for GIS managers will increase.

Related: GIS Manager Interview Questions and Answers

GIS Manager Job Requirements

A GIS manager typically needs the following qualifications:

Education: Most employers require GIS managers to have a bachelor’s degree in a field such as geography, computer science, statistics or engineering. Some employers prefer to hire candidates who have a master’s degree in geography or a related field. Relevant coursework includes classes in GIS, computer science, statistics and cartography.

Training & Experience: GIS managers typically have at least five years of experience in the field. They may have started as GIS technicians or analysts and worked their way up to management. They may have worked in a variety of industries, such as government, education, engineering or business. They may have also worked in a variety of roles, such as cartographer, database administrator or GIS analyst.

On-the-job training is often part of the first few years of employment with a company. This training may include learning the company’s specific software and computer systems, as well as the processes and procedures for completing tasks.

Certifications & Licenses: While certifications are not required for a GIS manager, they can be useful in demonstrating your knowledge in a specific GIS system or technique.

GIS Manager Skills

GIS managers need the following skills in order to be successful:

Communication: GIS managers often communicate with clients, colleagues and other stakeholders about projects and other work-related topics. Effective communication skills can help you convey information clearly and answer questions from others. You can also use communication skills to help your team collaborate and work together effectively.

Project management: Project management is the ability to oversee the planning, implementation and evaluation of a project. GIS managers often oversee the development of new GIS technology, which requires extensive project management skills. Effective project managers are able to organize and delegate tasks, track progress and ensure that deadlines are met.

Data analysis: Data analysis is the ability to interpret information and draw conclusions from it. GIS managers use data analysis to understand the needs of their organization and develop strategies to meet those needs. They also use data analysis to evaluate the success of their strategies and make adjustments when necessary.

Technology: GIS technology is constantly changing, so it’s important for managers to stay up to date on the latest software and hardware. Managers can use their technology skills to help their teams learn about new technology and integrate it into their work.

Business acumen: A GIS manager needs business acumen to understand the financial aspects of their job. They need to be able to read and interpret financial data and make informed decisions about budgets, contracts and other financial matters. Business acumen also helps a GIS manager understand the needs of their organization and how to best meet those needs.

GIS Manager Work Environment

GIS managers typically work in an office environment during regular business hours, although they may occasionally need to travel to meet with clients or attend conferences. They spend most of their time working on a computer, using GIS software to create maps and analyze data. GIS managers must be able to effectively communicate with other members of their team, as well as with clients, so they must have strong interpersonal and communication skills. They must also be able to think critically and solve problems quickly.

GIS Manager Trends

Here are three trends influencing how GIS managers work. GIS managers will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Need for More Technical Skills

As GIS becomes more popular, the need for more technical skills will become increasingly important. This is because GIS relies on a variety of software and hardware tools that require specific knowledge to operate.

To be successful in this field, professionals will need to be able to not only manage projects but also understand the technology behind them. This will allow them to make better decisions about which tools to use and how to best utilize them.

The Emergence of Location-Based Services

The emergence of location-based services is an emerging trend that is having a major impact on the way businesses operate. By using location-based services, businesses can provide customers with information that is specific to their current location, which can lead to increased sales and customer satisfaction.

GIS managers can take advantage of this trend by developing maps and other data products that are tailored to specific locations. They can also work with marketing teams to create campaigns that use location-based data to target customers.

Big Data Becomes Even Bigger

Big data has been growing rapidly over the past few years, and this trend is expected to continue into the future. As big data becomes even bigger, it will require more sophisticated management techniques in order to extract value from it.

GIS managers will need to be familiar with these techniques in order to effectively manage large amounts of data. They will also need to be able to communicate the value of big data to their colleagues and stakeholders.

How to Become a GIS Manager

A GIS manager career path can be rewarding and fulfilling. It’s important to consider what you want out of your career before embarking on this journey. Do you want to work for a large corporation, or do you prefer the flexibility of working for a small company? Do you want to focus on technical aspects of GIS, or do you want to manage people who use GIS technology?

No matter which direction you choose, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest technologies and trends in GIS. Read industry publications, attend conferences, and connect with other professionals in the field. This will help you develop the skills needed to succeed in this competitive field.

Advancement Prospects

GIS managers may advance to upper-level management positions within their organization. They may also choose to start their own GIS consulting business. As they gain experience, GIS managers can become certified in their field and may teach GIS courses at the college level.

GIS Manager Job Description Example

The [CompanyX] team is looking for an experienced GIS Manager to lead our GIS team in the development and implementation of GIS projects and initiatives. The GIS Manager will be responsible for the management of GIS staff, development and maintenance of GIS databases, and the creation of GIS maps and applications. The ideal candidate will have experience in managing GIS projects, staff, and budgets, as well as a strong understanding of GIS concepts and principles. They will also have excellent communication and interpersonal skills, and be able to work effectively with other departments and stakeholders.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Serve as the primary point of contact for all GIS-related questions and requests
  • Oversee the development, implementation, and maintenance of enterprise GIS systems
  • Work with other departments to ensure that GIS data is accurate, current, and meets their needs
  • Develop and maintain GIS databases, including metadata, spatial data, and attribute data
  • Create, edit, and manipulate GIS data using a variety of software programs
  • Perform quality control checks on GIS data to ensure accuracy and completeness
  • Generate maps, reports, and other outputs from GIS data as needed
  • Train staff on how to use GIS software and data
  • Stay up-to-date on new GIS technologies and methods
  • Write proposals for new GIS projects
  • Manage GIS projects from start to finish
  • Prepare cost estimates for GIS projects

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in GIS, computer science, or related field
  • 5+ years experience working with GIS software and systems
  • Experience managing GIS projects and teams
  • Exceptional analytical and problem-solving skills
  • Strong attention to detail
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Master’s degree in GIS, computer science, or related field
  • 7+ years experience working with GIS software and systems
  • Experience with enterprise GIS solutions
  • Knowledge of programming languages, including Python, Java, and SQL
  • Familiarity with web development technologies, such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript


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