If you’re interested in pursuing a career in GIS, there are many resources to consult. This article from GIS Lounge is a great place to start; it includes information about learning GIS skills, getting experience, and finding a job. As you look at job listings, you’ll find a number of titles and descriptions. Because GIS is still a relatively new and growing field – not just in size, but in complexity – there are not necessarily firmly agreed upon or established job titles, but some commonly-used titles and descriptions do exist. Follow this discussion on StackExchange to see what some GIS professionals and technicians in the field have to say about these. (Pro tip: StackExchange is a great discussion board for GIS technical help, too!)

Professional Organizations

A number of professional organizations provide networking and other opportunities to interact with GIS professionals, and can help chart your own career path. Most have online discussion groups, which members use to help each other solve technical challenges, circulate job opportunities, and discuss industry trends and changes. Most charge small membership fees, but some have discounted fees for students, and some do not require that you be a member to join online discussion groups or attend events.

American Association of Geographers – The Association of American Geographers (AAG) is a nonprofit scientific and educational society of geographers and related professionals who share interests in the theory, methods, and practice of geography. AAG hosts an annual meeting, publishes scholarly journals (Annals of the Association of American Geographers, The Professional Geographer, the AAG Review of Books and GeoHumanities), an online newsletter, and its regional divisions provide networking opportunities with colleagues near you.

Society for Conservation GIS – The Society for Conservation GIS (SCGIS) is a non-profit organization that assists conservationists worldwide in using GIS through communication, networking, scholarships, and training. Membership is open to anyone looking to engage in a GIS community to help them achieve their personal or organizational conservation goals. SCGIS has regional chapters in the U.S. and in several countries throughout the world, hosts and annual conference, and has an active email discussion group, which is open to members only.

Northeast Arc User Group – The Northeast Arc User Group (NEARC) is an independent, volunteer organization dedicated to helping users of Esri GIS software be more successful. The geographic area encompassed by the group includes New England, New York and New Jersey, with some participation from users in Pennsylvania and Delaware. NEARC hosts a one-day conference in the spring of each year and a three-day conference in the fall. At each of these events, the Northeast ARC Users Group fosters learning through technical training from Esri, user presentations, and community building events. NEARC’s active Listserv is a great resource for technical issues; internship and job opportunities are often circulated on the list.

New York State GIS Association – The New York State GIS Association represents the interests of the geospatial community within New York. The Association advocates in the state and nationally on issues of importance to the GIS industry (e.g., legislation and funding), reaches out to sister organizations in other professions in building strong collaborations, and provides a statewide forum for advancing our profession through shared experiences, learning and training. The Association hosts an annual conference and occasional webinars, and maintains an up-t0-date job postings page.

Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) – The Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) is a multidisciplinary association of professionals using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and other information technologies to solve challenges in state/provincial, regional and local government agencies and departments. URISA promotes the effective and ethical use of spatial information and information technologies for the understanding and management of urban and regional systems. URISA hosts conferences and other educational experiences and provides networking opportunities through local chapters.