GIS JOBS and GIS Careers
Western U.S. GIS job links and general gis job related sites
This is the most up-to-date and comprehensive listing of career sites and links for people seeking gis jobs. The page is targeted towards people seeking gis jobs in the Western United States. The major categories and range of links for gis jobs includes environmental links, planning links, transportation gis links, municipality gis employment links, software developer gis links, and other private sector gis companies seeking gis employees.
Related gis jobs links included below are: spatial data professions, CAD, remote sensing and surveying. Also the links can post different classes of gis jobs including full time, part-time, contract, and intern work.
Searching the Web
Here are some pointers on finding hidden gis jobs -
It’s 2016 and things have changed for the better in the GIS jobs sector. Overall U.S. GIS salaries have finally gone up big. Outsourcing is going down finally and companies that do it are frowned on. And the low paying and hated 15k-30k beginner GIS Tech grunt jobs are mostly over with.
So what happened?
The U.S. push for the 15 dollar minimum wage is one of the big things that has happened. Many GIS Techs were still making less than 15 dollars a hour just a few years back. Cities/States/Counties suddenly woke up to the fact that the GIS sector as a whole, was way under paid, compared to other departments. Now they seem to be topped out and overpaid based on current salaries. If you look at cost-of-living back around 2006, you will see that gas prices were just as high and home prices were at the peak of the housing bubble, yet gis salaries were super low and needed to be raised. Now, from about 2011-12 gis salaries have caught up and passed the inflation rate.
And don’t forget, gis professionals should thank ESRI for still pushing and lobbying Washington to use their overpriced proprietary gis software. ESRI has basically created an exclusive “ESRI Club” of gis users that the public tax payer has no clue they are funding. Their proprietary output formats like GDB and their family of network extensions help keep gis departments locked into spending never-ending mounds of money on their gis software. Many cost cutting municipalities have slowly started going to open source software and are letting volunteers/crowdsourcing setup their public map databases/networks for pennies! ESRI does NOT want this open source trend to grow and neither does the city GIS Tech worker making 85k to add/code two or three arcs a day!
But these unbelievable paying gis jobs are still scarce and not easy to get thanks to employees moving laterally into them from other departments and friends saving them for other friends. I have seen this over and over with city, county, and state jobs. This is why inside contacts are so important.
So where are the best GIS jobs and what do the titles pay?
Things have TOTALLY changed as far as job sectors. You now want to avoid the private sector jobs and go for municipal state, county and city jobs. Government jobs on average are paying WAY more and getting better pay raises and benefits. I know many friends that got gis jobs with city/county gis departments 10 years ago for 45k and are now making 80-100k, while the same person in the private sector gis job is now only making 68k. It really pays off to get a government job now!
And since about 2011-12 the mother lode of the gis salary increases are in California!
Why? First, California cities like San Francisco are heavily pushing a large minimum wage increase. Second, the bay area housing bubble has warped the cost of living chart making it look bad, which pushes huge COLA raises. And third, California government workers salaries are going up like crazy thanks to liberal Jerry Brown and the union loving democratically controlled state congress that want these votes. By giving insane pay raises similar to what the state teachers got under Gray Davis, Brown and the democrats are actually pushing the cost of living up for ALL private sector workers which don’t get huge COLA pay raises every year. They are breaking the state with unfunded salaries and pensions!
You can clearly see the difference in California private sector vs. public sector jobs by doing a gis job title search on Transparent California and Glassdoor.
The other factor that makes people want a job in California are the great pension plans and benefits. Yes, I said pension plans. Our current governor is trying to get rid of them and repair the damage that Gray Davis did to the state, but pension contracts are hard to change.
I know many state employees that have basically hit the lotto with their state pensions. Any California State Worker that retired after 2000 is getting 100% of their salary plus a nice fat yearly cost of living raise. You get how much with Social Security??? I know people that retired with a 70k state pension that are now making a 100k on their pension. This is a scam that workers have found and are running to while it lasts. Unfortunately this great salary/pension scam won’t last. Many of the counties, cities, and municipalities went bankrupt handing out huge salaries. A good example is the city of Anaheim. I had a friend there that was making 100k as a GIS Tech before the city went broke in 2008 and fired the overpaid workers. He is now in the private sector making a horrid 65k :-)
Next, if you are going to go for a GIS job in either the state or private sector there are some things to know.
First and most important, get into the GIS IT department as fast as you can. All Information Technology Departments are first in line for the pay raises. And they seem to take the majority of the credit and never get laid off in bad times when management cuts staff from departments. I have seen this first hand over and over again. A friend of mine that worked for a California County was making about 50k in the county’s dying gis department a few years back. During that time they got their gis department and hours cut to save jobs during huge county budget cuts. Just last year this person was transferred to the IT department. Their salary was raised to 102k for doing the same exact thing they were doing as an lowly gis analyst! The bottom line is Information Technology Departments heavily overlap with gis departments and work loads in (programming, software setup, city/county training, and gis support). The Information Technology Departments have across the board power, clout, and a voice in city or county politics. Get in the IT department as fast as you can, it will protect your gis career, salary, and status long term in the industry. Second, go back to school and up your degree to a masters if you only have a BA or BS. Having the higher degree can give that edge over the other guy in the department that wants your same promotion. A higher college degree will also give you more on your yearly COLA and merit raise, and currently the State of California is handing out the HUGE raises as if they were actually a for-profit company. I would not want to be the next Governor of California when this money runs out!
The gis salaries and pay raises in California have been a nose bleed rocket ride the last four year$! Now on average, California GIS Technician jobs pay about 50k-75k, GIS analyst jobs pay 65k-110k and GIS Manager/Information Technology Manager jobs pay 90k-215k. The rich counties and cities generally pay better and speciality municipality jobs such as a water district job can pay even more. And metro area jobs will always be way higher than outlying counties, even though cost of living is about the same.
Outside of California in other states the salaries are all over the place. Some state GIS Technician jobs are still paying under 30k in state and private sectors. Some companies are even making up new crazy gis titles for their employees like GIS Customer Success Manager. Many of these new crazy titles are for gis employees dealing with mobile and social media clients. Titles are everything in the GIS industry. As I stated before, the salary difference between a GIS Analyst and a GIS/Information Technology Specialist can be insanely HUGE, since you are in a different department. Many low level people in the gis industry just change their titles on their resumes to stay relevant in the gis sector. I have seen many friends change their titles. Examples include - GIS Tech to GIS Specialist, Surveyor 2 to a GIS Analyst, GIS Service Tech to a GIS Analyst;etc. Unforuanately for them, the state now clearly posts their real job titles on Transparent California for all to see.
Tips for Job Sreaching
1. Use Glassdoor and government sites like Transparent California to check gis salaries, raises, pensions, qualifications and how fast people get promoted. When web searching, use the same search phrase in all search engines(Google, Yahoo, Bing, DuckDuckGo and others). All sort phrases way differently, so the listings will be totally different.
2. Use special search patterns to find hidden jobs. An example would be if you are searching city sites, you would use a string that hit a lot of city domains at once. An example: "ca.us gis job August 10 ; would look for all California city/county sites for gis jobs posted in August 2014. Mix it up or try different patterns. Setup daily Google email alerts for job title keywords.
3. Use blog sites and social network sites to scan for new job posts. Use Twitter to connect but email to let people know about your qualifications.
4. Use bulletin board sites like Craig's List. However, posters on these sites are usually looking for part-time or cut rate employees that they don't have to pay a lot for.
5. Email headhunters and give them your name and number. Sometimes they might have something hot that has not been filled yet. This is old school.
6. Go to local Planning and GIS, Arc User Groups and Urisa meetings. This is the first place to look for posted city/county/state jobs, since most of the people attending work for municipalities. Jobs and part time help needed are usually announced at meetings before they get posted on the city website. Make the personal contact at the meeting and be that much closer to getting the job.
7. It's not what you know it is who you know. That old saying is 100% true when it comes to GIS jobs! The bottom line is 98% of the effort in finding a good paying gis job is now networking(knowing the right person at the right time). All of my friends and co-workers have found their stable, better paying, gis/cad/mapping jobs thru friends, teachers, family, and insider contacts. A lot of gis jobs posted online may already have some insider picked and they are only doing interviews to be legal. Call and ask questions about the job position and requirements. They might have something in the fine print that could weed you out on the interview. Ask about the software they use. Some only use the latest ESRI software or other programs. Others may require you to know special math or programming languages.
8. If you are in school, do tons of city intern work and meet people in the industry. Go to as many GIS conferences and network. I know a LOT of professors that have got students great city jobs, but things are much harder now. Show your work, talk, and see who will be hiring, growing, and what types of jobs will be needed. Make business cards/data sticks with a mini resumes on them and pass them out! Basically keep in touch.If you do the old school way of resume interviewing(cattle call), you most likely will be reviewed against 20-200+ applications! Many companies now interview and test online so check Glassdoor to see what type of questions are asked.
9. Look at Geography Alumni listings and see if they list where they are now working. Do a geography alumni page search on Google and you will get a ton of hits. Many are FaceBook pages where you can ask people about gis jobs in their sectors and see if they like their jobs and if there are openings coming up. Also, try using Twitter to contact Alumni.
10. City gis work is now really, really hard to get due to the hammering by congress to cut jobs, the insane sequesters, tea baggers, outsourcing of the private gis jobs for many years and cities cutting back due to bankruptcies. Try and get a city, county, state job where you want to work and than transfer into the gis department. Many cities and counties will take their workers first on job openings.
11. The best for last. GIS coding for smart phones and tablet apps is still hot but not growing as much as it was. A ton of money can be made if you know how to code in Sequel, Java, VB, Objective-C, and the IOS platform. There is just a ton of apps that need to be updated and maintained by paying customers. And the nice thing is most apps incorporate maps in them.
Note: If you are really disparate for work you could put an ad out for contract work on sites like Elance.com . Don't do this unless your willing to work for almost NOTHING. Looking on these contract work sites can be real depressing. Most of these posters are in countries where the exchange rate for the dollar is huge and cost-of-living low, so they can low ball U.S. workers out of work. This is the major problem with outsourcing and current global free trade policy. Basically, the rich that outsource get richer and raise their product prices while the U.S. middle class workers get $crewed twice. This is why government jobs are so coveted now. Most government and city gis work is still done in the U.S. and they still pay salaries and benefits but start pay can be low, while the private sector only cares about trimming costs so their executives can get another fat raise. The U.S. government basically needs to get rid of all tax breaks for job outsourcing and start charging inspection tariffs on the food and products coming into the U.S.A . But things look like they are finally getting better for gis jobs for now.
STIMULUS INFRASTRUCTURE GIS JOB LINKS
Stimulus Bill - Download and check new job growth in the Stimulus Bill
Kforce - Check for new Infrastructure Jobs
Stimulus Plan Article - GIS in the economic stimulus plan
EPA Jobs - EPA Recovery Jobs
National Science Foundation - Geosciences (GEO) - Career Opportunities
Census - Good job for people starting in GIS
State Transportation Web Sites - Some will be hiring soon with shovel ready projects
Links in GIS related Healthcare - With Obama’s health care passing, more doctors and medical establishments may need to convert over to digital records. Many of these doctors and medical businesses will want to incorporate some forms of gis into their records databases for better tracking of patients and trends. These areas of gis include geocoding, overlays, export to compatible gis/dbase formats; etc. A lot of custom made and installed gis applications and databases will be needed for the medical industry to compile with any new digital standards. Also, vast amounts of analog paper data will need to be OCR converted to digital formats and geocoded. A lot of specialized gis data work/training will be needed in this area. Keep a eye open on the health industry for expanding gis services that professionals will need. May be a good time to get in on the ground floor and start a small gis healthcare related business since healthcare reform passed.