Energy Career Profile: GIS Analyst

In today’s energy market technology is at the heart of everything. It is at the forefront of all new development and it is responsible for the incredible advances we have made over the past few decades. If you consider yourself the tech-y type and you also have an interest in energy and the environment you may want to look into a career as a GIS analyst.

Before we dive into the details of what a GIS analyst does, let’s first take a look at what GIS means. GIS stands for Geographic Information System, which is a digital mapping technique that connects maps generated on a computer with databases.

Basics of the Job

The purpose of GIS mapping is to allow analysts to integrate biophysical, ecological, and socio-economic data into maps that can then be accessed by other people. This data can then be easily updated and can be used to monitor air and water pollution, wildlife movement, erosion levels and other important natural factors.

As a GIS analyst it will be your job to use data gathered by either yourself or other scientists to produce up to date maps. One important use for these maps is to combat natural disasters. The map can show rescue services where homes are that lie in the path of destruction and any obstacles that may hinder them as they sent out rescue missions. Furthermore, it could indicate whether the air is safe to breathe so extra precautions can be taken if necessary.

Job Duties

You will take data, such as topographical data or live data on a particular event going on, such as a flood or forest fire, and use this to produce maps. You will then continually update the map as news and data comes in to accurately reflect the geographical situation. You may need to hand your map over to other experts, such as hydrologists or meteorologists, who can use it to predict imminent events.

You will need to stay abreast of any software developments, or even develop your own software, that could improve the way you make these maps. You will also be expected to record the data you use in appropriate databases that can be shared with external parties if need be. There may be times when you need to communicate or present findings to clients or government bodies.

Where to Work

You will predominantly be working in the office, as you will need to spend time inputting data and using this to create your maps. However, there may be instances where you need to inspect a site or collect data yourself, in which case you can expect to spend some time in the field. You will also most likely be required to attend training sessions, and, eventually, to train up other members of staff on how the GIS works.

Who to Work For

There are a variety of different places you can find employment as a GIS analyst. Environmental and engineering consulting companies are often a good place to start, as are IT and marketing firms. There is also a need for GIS analysts in the forestry, mining, and oil and gas sectors. If you prefer to go solo, you could choose to work as a self-employed consultant. Finally, there are usually opportunities for this kind of work in government departments and research institutions.