Promoting GIS as a career

September 15th, 2015, Published in Articles: PositionIT


GISSA recently held a GIS career day for the University of Pretoria Geomatics, Geography and Geology students. Two geospatial experts shared their experience in their GIS careers, offered advice on entering the field, and answered students’ questions on work opportunities. James Saunders, a remote sensing ecologist at Southern Mapping, and Prevlan Chetty, a senior GIS specialist at GCS, explained the work they are involved in and their career paths.

Chetty, who also represented GISSA, told students about the benefits of belonging to an organisation such as GISSA. He explained that the organisation offers special student membership, with benefits that include rubbing shoulders with experts in the industry and staying up to date with the latest developments in the field.

James Saunders, Prevlan Chetty and Prof. Serena Coetzee.

James Saunders, Prevlan Chetty and Prof. Serena Coetzee.

Appropriate academic qualification also enhances employment opportunities, and employment opportunities in GIS are well distributed between the private and public sector, Chetty explained. He made reference to the “GIS as a tool versus GIS as a discipline” debate, and how bodies and organisations like Plato and GISSA treat GIS as a discipline with standards for work accountability.

He also recommended students register with Plato for this reason, adding that networking with experts could lead to interesting MSc topic ideas and good work opportunities when graduating. Still being associated with the university places them in goods standing to join these organisations.

Saunders showed students some of the work he has done in mineral mapping using GIS. Remote sensing, a field in its own right, is also seeing an explosion of new technology and opportunities, and Saunders said GIS is a great way to approach remote sensing.

The main arguments for considering GIS careers however appeared to be that GIS is a young and a dynamic, crosscutting discipline in which one gets to deal with many aspects of a business and many interesting people and projects.

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