How do I Become a GIS Developer?

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  • Written By: Lindsey Rivas
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 05 November 2019
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If you want to become a GIS developer, you will need to start by taking courses in computer science and geographic information systems (GIS). It is necessary to learn how to create web-based computer applications and understand the various functions of GIS software. Also, it is important to be familiar with map coordinate systems and projections. After you have the basic knowledge, you can start to gain experience to become a GIS developer through internships and developing your own applications.

Most employers of GIS developers look for a candidate with a bachelor’s degree in computer science. It is typically necessary for you to learn several different object-oriented programming languages to become a GIS developer. For example, you might learn Java or C#. Employers will usually have their own preferences for which languages they want a GIS developer to know, so having experience in several computer programming languages would be to your benefit.

In addition to computer programming, you will need to learn how to create web-based applications to become a GIS developer. It is generally necessary to have a good understanding of multiple platforms and be familiar with how databases work. Also, it is essential to know how to use languages such as Structured Query Language (SQL) and HyperText Markup Language (HTML) to develop web applications.


Besides learning the computer science aspects, you also need to have knowledge of the GIS software for which you are developing tools and applications. Many colleges and institutes offer courses in GIS, and some have programs in which you can earn a GIS certificate. You should learn the different functions that GIS software can perform as well as the field data collection techniques that are used.

You should also consider taking the time to learn map coordinate systems and projections since those are important aspects of GIS software. There are thousands of different coordinate systems, so it can be advantageous to understand how they work with the data. For example, some map projections preserve distance while others preserve shape.

After you have the basic knowledge and education necessary to become a GIS developer, you should start looking for ways to gain experience in the field and practice problem solving in real world situations. To start, you can seek internships with governments or companies that employ GIS developers. Also, you can begin to design and develop applications on your own.

Once you are ready to become a GIS developer, you will want to send your resume to potential employers. There are several websites that show job openings specific to the GIS field, or you can check general job posting websites and newspaper classified ads. You might also try contacting your ideal employer directly to see if there are any jobs available.


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