5 Top paying Geology and GIS jobs (Geographic Information System)
GIS jobs are becoming more prevalent and this has a lot to do with the fact that the GIS system is so versatile. This system can be used by everyone from geologists to town planners as the GIS system has the ability to assists a wide range of specialists and experts. GIS jobs in data analysis are becoming very important as it allows companies to undertake projects at a fraction of the cost and with fewer issues as they have all the information they need before the project even begins. We are going to elaborate a bit on what GIS is and then go through some of the GIS jobs in South Africa you can go into.
How does GIS work?
A geographic information system (GIS) is a computer based program that is used for capturing, storing, checking, and displaying data that relates to a specific position on the earth’s surface. GIS is able to display many different kinds of data on one map. This allows researchers to more easily identify, analyze, and interpret patterns and relationships between physical structures (natural and man-made) on the earth.
You would use a GIS systems to compare two structures or locations to see how they differ from each other. As an example, you could plot two different locations that produce pollution, like a power plant or factory, and then sites that are sensitive to pollution, such as a nature reserve or protected area. You could then use this data to see which areas are the most polluted so they can be cleaned up or managed.
GIS is able to utilize any information that includes a geographical location. This means that you can use anything from latitude and longitude, an address or ZIP code. You can compare anything that’s on the surface of the earth. Then you can cross check the location with data like population, income, or education level. You can even use information about the land itself (perhaps you want to add water sources, different kinds of vegetation or variations in soil density). You can then overlay even more data, let’s say you want to include information about the sites of physical structures like farms, factories, schools, roads or storm drains, and electric power lines. GIS can accommodate all of this.
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This is the first step to becoming a GIS specialist. Intern GIS jobs in South Africa will mainly be handling data collection, management, and editing of fairly basic maps for internal and external uses. You will be compiling the maps for the more experienced GIS specialists to make use of. The pay here is a bit low, as you will earn, according to PayScale, an average of R12000 per annum but you will need this experience to move further up the career ladder.
Most of the applicants here will be seniors in college or recent graduates that only have coursework experience or maybe a season working in the field with a GPS in hand. You won’t have to do any intensive modelling or mapping as an Intern.
GIS Technician and Analyst
Once you have the required work experience and education, you can move onto becoming a GIS technician. You will mostly be making maps and customizing the geographic information systems (GIS) applications. You will be tasked with manipulating the data to serve a variety of purposes, depending on what industry you are compiling the maps for. You will be reading and interpreting maps, manipulating and understanding digital land data. You will also have to manage this data and enter it into a GIS database that can be referenced in the future.
Due to the fact that you will be entering and interpreting data, you will need to have good attention to detail and then very good communication skills. As a GIS technician, you will most likely have to give presentations on the data you have interpreted so you will have to be able to enunciate this effectively. The pay here is better, according to PayScale, you will earn an average of R163,260 per annum.
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Town Planners are tasked with making long and short-term decisions about the management and physical development of areas like cities, towns, villages and the countryside. Any environment that will have people living or working in it requires planning so it can accommodate the people working there. When this doesn’t happen you have issues like traffic jams or too little infrastructure to support the population in that area.
In terms of GIS jobs in town planning, you can use this system to analyse data that would assist those who are planning these built environments. You can input variables such as prime agricultural land, high flood frequency, surface water and highly erodible land. So you can check multiple kinds of data against each other to better understand what needs to be done to improve the infrastructure. As an example, analyzing areas with high flood frequency could enable you to see areas that would have high flood insurance premiums for residents. This would deter people from wanting to live there so you would want to build your residential areas away from these flood plains. Another example is you can overlay traffic conditions on your road grid and see where you can better improve the roads to help lessen the traffic congestion. Experience here is key to earning more and you can expect about R214,955 per annum on average.
Environmental specialists and scientists use their natural science knowledge to protect the environment and the people living or working there. They advise policy makers, clean up polluted areas, and work with industry to reduce waste output or find a way to better manage it.
The GIS system is used to compare environmental data to the physical landscape to analayse it and see what can be done to improve conditions. As an example, you could be brought in during the construction of an airport to monitor bird flight paths and movements so they don’t interfere with the airplanes taking off and landing. You can see where the bird’s movements are and advise the people building the airport to accommodate these flight paths. According to payscale you will be earning, on average, around R216,267 per annum.
A geologist studies earth’s natural processes and movement. You will study natural phenomena such as volcanic eruptions, floods, earthquakes and landslides to survey land and draw up safe building plans. Geology jobs involve investigating earth’s materials such as metals and minerals, oil, natural gas, water and ways to extract these resources. Geology deals with the changes of the earth that occur over time, including land formation and climate change. Experience here will strongly influence your salary and you can expect about R292,958 per annum on average.
GIS is beneficial here as you can cross reference many kinds of natural data on a map of a given area. You are able to combine data, like satellite imagery, with geological maps to look for mineral deposits for example or use the system to see where earth movements are taking place in residential areas to avoid death during an earthquake.
What to study
If you want to become a specialist in GIS then you will need to obtain a GIS degree or diploma which is offered by most of the universities in South Africa. The subjects that should be studied up to Grade 12 to guarantee a career in GIS are geography, maths and science, but please keep in mind that each university has its own admission requirements and those looking to study this need to check what is required before applying. Different fields will require different levels of a GIS qualification.
From geography jobs to geology jobs, GIS jobs include a wide range of fun and interesting study and career fields. Are you are excited to start applying for GIS Jobs in South Africa? Register your CV on Job Mail today and apply for your dream GIS job today!