What Does a GIS Researcher Do?

A career in geographic information science (GIS) research can involve working with various different software programs, data sets, and mapping tools. Below are some of the main duties and career outlook for GIS researchers:

Working with Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

GIS specialists may work with a wide range of mapping tools, including mapping software programs, map data sets, aerial imagery, and satellite imagery.

Some of the most common GIS research tasks include compiling and analyzing data sets, creating maps and spatial models, and conducting research to improve the quality and accuracy of GIS tools.

The career outlook for GIS researchers is promising. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of GIS researchers is projected to grow at a rate of 16 percent between 2012 and 2022. This is due in part to the increasing popularity of GIS as a tool for mapping, surveying, and data analysis.

Career Options for GIS Researchers

GIS researchers may pursue a variety of careers options, including:

Cartography and GIS

Data analysis and GIS

GIS software development

GIS research

Land surveying


Remote sensing

Top employers of GIS researchers include the federal government, universities, and technology companies. The BLS reports that the most common occupations for GIS researchers are cartography and GIS specialists, data analysis and GIS specialists, and GIS software development specialists.

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