GIS Skills

Caitlin Dempsey


What skills are needed to be a successful GIS professional?  Broken down by category, listed here is an in progress list of all the skills a GIS professional may be required to have.  Provide your input on essential skills in the comment section below.


Map Elements

  • Know all the components of a map layout.  See: What’s in a Map?
  • Cartographic Design.  See: Principles of Cartographic Design

Spatial Analysis


Database Management

  • Relational Database Management
  • Structured Query Language


  • Ability to operate GIS related hardware and associated peripheral devices such as GPS units, plotters, digitizers, and scanners.

General Skills

  • Basic understanding of Microsoft Windows operating system and ability to use standard office software (e.g. word processing, spreadsheet, presentation software).
  • Proper use of grammar and spelling.  Oral and written language skills.
  • Ability to work independently.
  • Understanding of how to seek out peer support to answer technical questions.

Programming and Scripting Languages

  • Knowledge of Python
  • Ability to script repetitive tasks


Web Technologies

  • Web Servers

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About the author
Caitlin Dempsey
Caitlin Dempsey is the editor of Geography Realm and holds a master's degree in Geography from UCLA as well as a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from SJSU.

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1 thought on “GIS Skills”

  1. Hi,
    I am working as a GIS developer in India.
    Following is the list of skills that are normally required in the GIS service industry in India. They should more or less apply anywhere in the world.

    1. GIS package knowledge (ESRI dominates in most cases)
    2. Knowledge of development framework of the package (ArcObjects for ESRI)
    3. Support programming language by the package/framework (Java/.Net & any COM compliant language in case it’s ESRI)
    4. SQL basics (just enough to connect and query/update a database)
    5. Knowledge of any other package/framework is always helpful.

    Ujjwal Nigam
    +91 – 9923810054

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