Career Fields Using Geographic Information Science

The field of geographical information science (GIS) has so many different applications that it is really revolutionizing how we process and use a wide range of information. GIS has come into being through the synthesis of information from multiple areas. GIS professionals use geospatial technology in many different ways.

The education to enter the GIS field will include training in the database and digital technologies, cartography, programming, geography, and spatial analysis. Earn a masters in GIS from USC and be ready to embark on an interesting new career in an in-demand industry. Here are some career fields that use GIS technology and professionals.

Location Technology

This category of GIS use encompasses everything from navigation maps on cell phones to the geographical display of data. The direction apps that can identify where the nearest coffee shop is and integrate GPS coordinates in the identification of locations are the most familiar and basic form of GIS technology. Maps of geography, transportation routes and demographic data can be layered for other specialized uses by individuals, companies, and governments.

Urban Planning

The growth and expansion of a metropolitan area can be analyzed through GIS and enable planning by municipal representatives. Factors such as land usability, accessibility, access to transportation corridors, and former uses of the land all play a part in determining suitable areas for new development. The area of transportation planning intersects with urban planning when determining what the best path is for a new road or rail line.

Real-Time Transportation

GIS technology is central to digital applications that provide information on road conditions and traffic in a map format. This enables users of the app to make alternate travel plans or change their route if conditions warrant.

Environmental Impact Studies

GIS technology has helped professionals conducting environmental impact studies to make great strides in the accuracy of environmental impact studies. Any large construction project, such as a highway or pipeline, cannot be built without an analysis of its potential harm it may cause to the environment.

In addition, GIS technology can reveal changes in land use by identifying changes in land cover. This capability can uncover practices such as deforestation and is also used to identify the extent of land damage by storms or fires.


Agricultural applications of GIS can help farmers make optimal choices in crop selection and boost efficiency in their agricultural processes. The utilization of this technology can even analyze soil in order to determine what fertilization level and type it needs. In the future, further implementation of GIS solutions for agriculture around the world could increase food production in famine-stricken areas.

Geological Hazard Zoning

Many areas that are prone to geological hazards, such as landslides and sinkholes, are undergoing analysis to discover locations that are at extreme risk. Layers of data such as land density, slope, geology, elevation change, previous disaster occurrences and land surface cover can be weighted and analyzed together in order to complete risk assessments and prevent future disasters.

The current trend toward integrating GIS technology and capability into a growing amount of industries is a plus for those looking for GIS-related jobs. As analytical capabilities expand, so will the need for professionals who leverage this technology.

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