A Geographical Information Systems (GIS) analyst may have many duties to perform within her job description, including reading geographical data, mapping software programming, or even displaying the distance relationships within an entire country. While many companies may hire an analyst, their definitions and job requirements for the position can vary greatly. For one company, the analyst may simply be reading geographical information from a map and entering it into data form, and for another, the person in this role may be creating entire topographical maps from scratch within certain software parameters.
The general definition of an analyst is one who has solid knowledge of field-related technology and how it can be applied in real life situations. How the GIS analyst is required to use that knowledge depends on the needs of her company, as well as her particular skill set and cumulative experience. This means that a GIS analyst does not need to have a degree in geographical studies. An analyst may have a background in geology, computer programming, and even simple math studies.
General skills required by a GIS analyst usually include math and statistical analysis, excellent written and verbal communication, and knowledge in cartography/geography. Solid spatial skills and programming and creative thinking capabilities may also help an analyst perform her job effectively. A GIS analyst normally must have the ability to think outside the box to solve problems.
Community, national, and local governments may use GIS information for census and community development information and may have many analysts on hand to interpret and display information properly. Many companies that focus on advancing technology may also make use of analysts to help them better understand their markets or help people connect to each other. The pay they are willing to offer, however, may fluctuate greatly. It is generally recommended that an analyst understand what the company expects and what it plans to pay before making the decision to work for it.
It is possible to receive certification as a GIS analyst, which may improve employment opportunities and salary. This certification is acquired through experience, training, and contributions to the profession rather than through an exam. It is considered a prestigious designation which allows a GIS analyst to call herself a GIS Professional (GISP) and says to potential employers and peers that she has earned the position through merit and skill.