GIS Technician

Cites are complex and dynamic networks of physical, social and economic interactions. Understanding the varied layers of urban areas such as demography, density, infrastructure, natural spaces, amongst others, can highlight sustainability opportunities and potential risks in the planning, design and management of the high-density spaces in cities. Geographic information systems or GIS combines topographical, ecological, social and economic data to visualise and map geographic spaces.

GIS technicians build, maintain, modify and assist with the use of geographic information system databases. They create specialised map systems from source documents and research and verify data, transforming data from different sources into standardized computer formats for use in databases and maps. They also resolve database and technical challenges and review existing cartographic designs for accuracy. Some also perform custom application development or provide technical user support.

GIS technicians may assist scientists, land use planners, engineers or related professionals in identifying the spatial needs and challenges of projects. They work predominately in office environments with advanced computer software programs and may travel to the field, if possible, to verify and collect data.

Skills

GIS technicians require an extensive understanding of spatial geography and have a sound and practical knowledge of GIS data and design software. They will additionally benefit from:

  • Excellent problem-solving and analytical thinking ability
  • Ability to work with and manage large and diverse datasets
  • Significant attention to detail
  • Strong project management competence

Tasks

Design and coordinate the development of GIS databases

Design and prepare graphic representation of GIS data

Perform geospatial data building, modelling or analysis

Provide technical support, maintenance and operation of GIS databases, equipment or applications

Studies

B.Sc., B.Sc. (Hons), M.Sc. in Geographical Information Systems at UCT and UFH

B.Sc., B.Sc. (Hons), M.Sc. in Geography specialising in Geographic Information Systems at all universities

Diploma, Advanced Diploma, M.Tech in Geomatics at CPUT and TUT

Employers

National, provincial and local government.

NGOs, community-based and development organisations.

Architectural engineering firms.

Urban planning organisations.

Research institutions.

Private consultancies. 

Related career paths