Sunday, September 30, 2018

3 sure ways to Land your first GIS and Mapping Job - as a freelancer, contractor, or small business owner

Dear reader,

To effectively Build your career in this industry, you need a solid educational background by taking classes in geography, surveying, geodesy, cartography, GIS, spatial analysis, database management, web technologies, and programming. A common problem with GIS/digital map learning and related institutions is that they never guide you on how/where to find good paying jobs after they have impacted the necessary skills on you.

"It is one thing to acquire the skills and it is a different ball game to make money from your mapping skills".

Many classes in the formal education tend to focus more on the theoretical concepts, so I strongly encourage you to look on to acquiring production skills afterward. Learning platforms such Udemy, Lynda, Udacity, PluralSight, Boundless etc tend to have more practical and real-world production oriented courses. Take your time master those once that suit your career before jumping in the labor market.

In this post, I will open up your eyes to three ways to get your first GIS and Mapping Job. I assured you of your first GIS and Mapping Job or some passive income in three months time before settling on a permanent job, if you follow the advice below diligently... Let's do it.

Here are the three ways to land your first GIS and Mapping Job:-

1- Search and apply for opening in Government and Private sectors:
Note here, you should be able to accept or tolerate delay, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious (it requires your maximum level patience).

There are many GIS entry-level jobs and internships often targeted at recent graduates. Many Government sectors at local, state or federal level have GIS/Mapping needs and this varies from one country to another. You will have to refer to your specific country to see what government organizations fits into your skills.

To give you some ideas, there are many different government industries that have GIS and mapping departments some of them include: health, agriculture, transportation, construction, real estate, mining, communication, disaster management, research institutes etc. Watch out for opening in some of these areas and push in when you find one.

On the other hand, there are privately run startups or companies you can work with. If you take away the big names, it is sometimes difficult to know what other options exist that you can apply to. Here I will show you how the search for them.
  • Conferences, meet-ups and workshops
  • Geospatial Magazines and other publications
  • GIS Forums
  • Subscribe to newsletters
As an example, below is newsletter from Geomares Publishing. Just that one newsletter alone, you already have access to so many potential employers of your GIS and mapping skills. There are all sort of information including job postings there to keep your eyes on for possible job openings.

The newsletter ofter covers the areas which include "Marine Product Updates, Geomatics Product Updates, GIM International Newsletter, Hydro International Newsletter, Offers and Promotions, Geomatics World Newsletter and GIS Professional Newsletter".

This is just one, there are many more magazine out there to subscribe to and get tones of current and relevant information in the GIS and Geospatial domain. Here is a list below, remember to search within your locality for local alternatives.

Most of these magazines are published few a times annually, but when they do get published be rest assure of finding ample of information including job listings and potential companies in the industry that could hire you.

I strongly encourage you subscribe at least to the soft copies if you can't afford the hard/printed copies and watch out for job openings.

2- Create a profile and apply for freelance jobs: 
Numerous platforms such as Remote,, Upwork, Guru, Fiverr, Freelancer, PeoplePerHour etc have GIS/mapping jobs posted on daily basis by employers who are ready pay you to get there GIS/mapping tasks completed.

Register an account with any of those platforms and update your profile to apply for those jobs that matches your skills set.

Be sure that your profile is updated professionally to reflect your expertise, to stand out from the crowd and to have better chances of winning new client with less effort.

In my opinion the best way to get start is by experiencing what is on both side of the box. That is by experiencing being a client yourself before being a contractor. This way you will see what contractors deliver to clients and how they handle there clients.

There are specialized courses on the web on preparing you to become a good freelancer, be sure to check them out.

3- Create a portfolio and let employers find you:
This option is made easy with the availability of the Internet and social medias. Upload your portfolios on YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, Personal Website/Blog, Twitter etc. Potential recruiters will search and find your work if it interests them, you can get talking with them and possibly get hired at the end.

This very method has worked for me many times. I have successfully worked with good number of clients who stumbled on my portfolio and come to hire me for there GIS/Mapping projects. This blog you are reading is a living example.

It wont just happen overnight, you got to start from somewhere.

Take away Tips:
~ There are more Web and Mobile based GIS jobs in the market today, more than Desktop GIS jobs. Many big players in the industry such as ESRI are moving to the web/cloud space with ArcGIS Online/Portal. Be sure you have web GIS skill in your hands, this will definitely give you upper hand in your job quest.

~ If you are not someone with natural marketing talent, I recommend you nuture your marketing skills or hire digital marketer to help you brand and sell your GIS/Mapping expertise.
There are many course on Udemy and other places that can help you nuture a digital marketing skill. Enroll in one even if you are hiring expert to handle the marketing for you.

~ There is a global trend toward topics such as: Data Science, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, Deep Learning, Natural Language Processing (NLP), Big Data Analytics, Map Infographics, Computer Vision, etc most of the companies who utilizes some of these technologies require one or more employees who understand geospatial (geographical) data. Some introductory knowledge of those topics will also go along way.

~ Look beyond Geo data visualizations. Maps, DEM/DTM/DSM, and satellite images are not the only kind of visualizations in the GIS industry. You should be able to interpret and visualize other types of charts such as bar charts, histogram, box plots, scatter plots, line graphs, Gantt char, Bubble chart, Pie chart etc. All these are visualizations that when combined with geo data visualization can reveal greate amount insights hidden in tabular data.

That is all I have to say.
Good luck with you job search, wish you a successful career in the spatial industry.

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