A geographic information system (GIS) technician works with maps and geographic data. He has the job of researching, gathering, analyzing, and adjusting geographic data and using it to create new maps, graphs, charts, and databases. His job involves using special programs and GIS equipment to convey geographic data in the most accurate manner possible. A person who becomes a GIS technician often works to design maps for the travel or education industry. He may also find his skills in demand with government agencies, science organizations, natural resource companies, and even some advertising businesses.
While maps can be drawn by hand or created using less-advanced tools, GIS technology provides a way to digitally integrate data from numerous sources into up-to-date, accurate maps. A GIS technician uses technology to input data from numerous sources, creating maps in digital format, and cross-referencing geographical data. With this vast amount of data available in digital form, people are often able to locate and identify geographical patterns that might be harder to note if hand-drawn maps were used.
In addition to mapping physical elements, a GIS technician may use other types of data to create a database or design a map. For example, a person in this field may gather political data to use in map preparation, and cultural information may be used for the same purpose. His or her research and data gathering is done with the goal of not only creating maps, but also helping people to understand the environment. In fact, a GIS technician's skills may even be used by environmentalists. For example, the data a GIS technician gathers and incorporates into a map, database, or chart may help environmentalists identify places that are faced with certain types of pollution or regions that are home to endangered species.
A person who wants to work in this field usually graduates from high school and earns a four-year college degree. While some colleges may offer GIS programs that world be appropriate for entering this field, an aspiring GIS technician may alternatively earn a degree in geography or computer science to prepare for this field. An individual may even get started in this career with a degree in engineering or environmental science as long as the educational program includes coursework in subjects such as GIS and historical geography. Some people may also seek related internships or earn master's degrees in preparation for a career in this field.