GIS: A Way Out of the Career Doldrums

Many of the 4 million jobs currently open in the United States are vacant because there’s a skills shortage and a need for more highly educated workers, experts say.

Advancing your GIS degree with an online master’s degree or certificate will differentiate you from the masses. The marketplace is changing, so should your strategic plan. Build your credentials, professional background and continue your education in a flexible online environment – be a competitive force in the job market.

Getting a job has been tough for recent college graduates. One of the reasons has been “credential creep.” The bachelor’s degree has turned from a once impressive calling card into a common distinction, then a given, and now just another in a sea of baccalaureates.

Many would-be workers are finding that markets demand even greater levels of education and expert knowledge. GIS programs have become one of the paths to a career. A strong knowledge of geographic and geospatial information systems can open doors to a rapidly growing field. As the Boston Globe Magazine notes, higher levels of university education are becoming necessary to compete in a tight job market.

“Many of the 4 million jobs currently open in the United States are vacant because there’s a skills shortage and a need for more highly educated workers, experts say. While a record third of Americans ages 25-29 have bachelor’s degrees, “there’s some credential creep going on,” says Heather O’Leary, a principal analyst for Eduventures, a Boston firm that offers consulting to colleges, universities, and the institutions that support them. “Forty years ago, a high school diploma was enough, and a bachelor’s degree was more for high-end positions. That has shifted. Now even for very basic administrative roles, employers are starting to prefer or require bachelor’s degrees. So now it’s a master’s degree that makes you stand out.”

The Globe article tells the story of David Boiano, who had majored in meteorology and minored in communications in a bid to become a television weatherman. Nothing came of it other than two years of waiting on tables. So Boiano went back to school to learn GIS, which has become an important set of data analysis and visualization technologies used in the public and private spheres.

“Boiano had learned a little about the field as an undergrad and says that “got the ball rolling in my head.” Later, with his master’s in hand and a year’s work experience with the city of Cambridge, he was recruited by the Boston Water and Sewer Commission at a higher starting salary than he’d ever expected. “I was nervous, because they said they wanted five years of experience in programming, and I really only had a year, if that, and it was while I was in school,” says Boiano, now 26. “But I think because of the master’s degree they put me a little above midrange in salary.”

One potential problem with pursuing a graduate degree or graduate certificate in GIS is undertaking a program while attending to family and life commitments. A way around this is an online GIS degree, such as the ones offered by American Sentinel University.

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