Rather than collecting and analysing geographical data generated by geographical information systems (GIS), GIS managers focus their efforts on team management, budget control and building client relationships.
GIS managers may also be responsible for researching, evaluating and procuring new GIS equipment to increase project efficiency.
Salary & benefits
As an entry-level geographical information systems officer, you will earn between £18,000 and £25,000.
However, once you become a fully-fledged geographical information systems manager, you could earn between £30,000 and £50,000 a year.
Geographical information systems managers frequently switch between field-based and office-based work. Fieldwork often involves working long and irregular hours.
Extra travel depends on the amount of client and multidisciplinary interaction required.
Since this is a highly-technical and challenging area of work, you will need a degree to become a geographical information systems manager.
Theoretically, you can enter this profession with a degree in any discipline. However, candidates with an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in geographical information systems, geography, surveying, computer science, maths, operational research, or statistics are preferred by many employers.
This is a specialist discipline, and thus you will start your career as a geographical information systems officer before progressing into a managerial role.
Prior work experience will provide you with an additional advantage over other candidates, especially given the increasing popularity of this profession.
Training & progression
By the time you become a geographical information systems manager, your training will move away from the technical aspect of the job and focus more on project management skills.
The Association for Geographic Information (AGI) and the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) collectively offer a scheme which allows professionals in this line of work to become chartered geographers (CGeog). To apply for ‘chartered’ status, you’ll need to have at least six years of work experience in a GIS-specific role.
Once you have become a geographical information systems manager, opportunities for career progression are fairly limited. However, you could become a freelance GIS consultant.
Alternatively, you could become an academic and teach subjects, such as spatial analysis, to the next generation of geographical information systems officers.