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Do you need a masters in GIS

GIS is the medium not the mission!

A deep understanding of geospatial technology and theory is only going to be as valuable to you as the problem you are trying to solve with it. 

This means that if you are passionate about GIS and geospatial technology by all means learn as much as you can about it. Pursue your passion and use it to solve problems.

Most people won’t get a job in GIS, most people will use GIS to solve problems in particular industries. 

This is not one size fits all answer to the question of “Should I get a masters in GIS” it really depends on what you want to do. However if you are wanting a career in Management, research or academia then a masters level education would be extremely helpful!

What do you get out of a masters degree in GIS

Critical thinking 

This sounds obvious but the ability to ingest information and think critically about where it came from, how it is being presented and how you might use it to solve a problem you are facing is really important. This will be a part of any masters degree but think about this in the context of geospatial. The more experience you have in doing this type of critical thinking in a GIS/ Spatial context the more valuable you will be to an organization that is needing to solve spatial problems. 


Spatial Comprehension

The world is more interconnected than we sometimes think, understanding and seeing the spatial relationships between objects, organizations, cultures and systems is a valuable skill. A masters degree will give you the opportunity to focus on a particular subject area and apply spatial reasoning. 


Technical understanding

GIS is a tech heavy field! In order to excel in this field a good understanding of different technologies is critical. You don’t need to be a super user of them all, but understanding what tools, technologies and architectures are suitable for different problems is an extremely important skill. A masters degree in GIS will undoubtedly improve your technical skills in GIS. It will also give you the chance to document use of GIS tools via project work. Geospatial analysis often requires multiple tools and technologies. The “S” in GIS stands for system! Not a single tool or technology but a system of tools and technologies working together to create a system. The more you understand these systems and the individual compontiesty that they consist of the more value you can can to an organization.  


Communication skills

The magic of maps is that they can communicate a lot of information in an easily digestible format 

“A picture is worth a thousand words”

However, it's not easy to create a meaningful map! And often a map is not the answer! Doing a masters in GIS will teach you to communicate spatial information in different ways. In more general terms the more practiced you are in presenting your ideas to people that need to hear them the better. Spatial data is more available than it has ever been, this means that it is skill of interpretation and communication or spatial data and analysis is becoming increasingly important.

Understanding what Is Possible and How GIS Is Used

“Too a person with a hammer - everything looks like a nail” 

GIS is not always the answer to the question! while a masters degree in GIS will focus on teaching you how to use your "GIS hammer" it will also highlight the situations where GIS is not the right technology. 

Positioning and Authority

you get to say that you have a masters degree in GIS

This is true for all masters degrees, anytime you can document that you have spent a significant amount of time learning and developing your skills in a specific area you position yourself as a person that is invested in 

It will give you a head start, you may not always want to be a GIS analyst, a masters degree will give you a good platform to build your career

With so many companies working to “democratise” spatial functionality and “lower the barriers to entry” what this means is that it's getting easier and easier to access spatial functionality. Technical skills will help get your foot in the door but the value or preserved value will degrade with time as tasks that used to require a specialist are now carried out by none specialists because technologies have lowered the barriers to entry. A masters in GIS will set you apart, give you a deeper understanding of the theory and application of Geospatial information systems/science which is a more solid foundation to build a career on.

What industries are using GIS?

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