Highlight Your Skills with a GIS Portfolio

Caitlin Dempsey


The end product of most GIS projects is a visual output such as a map or an online app. Since most of the work in developing a map or a geospatial application remains hidden to the casual observer, a spatial portfolio is a great way to highlight your geospatial accomplishments, including all the work you did to create that map or application.

What is a GIS Portfolio?

A GIS portfolio is a way to digitally present GIS projects and maps that you have created. In a nutshell, a GIS portfolios is a visual résumé or curriculum vitae (CV). This is the space where you can let others know what geospatial skillsets and experiences you have through that goes beyond the text-based approach of a traditional C.V.

Why Do You Need a GIS Portfolio?

A GIS portfolio is a great way way to highlight all of your skills. Your GIS portfolio is a living memory book of your career. On a personal level, it’s a wonderful reminder to yourself of all that you have accomplished and lets you further visualize a roadmap to additional skills you want to acquire.

A GIS portfolio should be a living digital document. Ideally you should start creating one with the first GIS or cartography course you take and update it as your career in GIS develops. It’s never too late to start a portfolio even if you are a seasoned GIS professional.

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GIS portfolios also serve to promote your accomplishments online. If you’re looking to serve on panels, as a speaker, or work as a consultant, a GIS portfolio is a great product to develop.

A growing number of employers are requesting access to your GIS portfolio as part of your job application. Portfolios can showcase not only the maps you have map and the GIS tools you are skilled in, but also let potential employers understand your writing, communication, and organizational styles.

A screenshot of two GIS jobs that require a GIS portfolio.
A growing number of jobs are requiring a GIS portfolio as part of the job application.

Some graduate programs also require a GIS portfolio. One example is the University of Mary Washington which explains, “We see applicants with varied qualifications, and we want to admit students who will succeed.  Being able to see and read an applicant’s work will help us assess their ‘graduate potential'”.

The University of Mary Washington is one graduate program that requires applicants to submit a GIS portfolio.  Screenshot taken 14-February-2021.
The University of Mary Washington is one graduate program that requires applicants to submit a GIS portfolio. Screenshot taken 14-February-2021.

How do I Get Started with a GIS Portfolio?

Portfolios should contain examples of your maps and apps as well as a clear and concise write up describing each project as well as the tools and programming languages used.

Take care to omit any confidential, personal, or proprietary maps and information when developing your portfolio. If you aren’t sure if you can publish a map or other information on your personal site, then check with the organization you created the product for and first get permission to use it in your portfolio.

Examples of GIS Portfolios

If you are struggling to figure out kind of information to present in a GIS portfolio, looking at what others have done is a great way to get some inspiration. A search on the web will pull up quite a few published examples.

Listed are here are a couple of great examples to give you some ideas on how to organize and present an online portfolio.

A very visually appealing and well-laid out example is Kate Berg’s GeoPortfolio. She created it using Esri’s Story Maps Classic (and also has a parallel portfolio on Github). All of her work is organized into clear categories and her portfolio includes a way to contact her.

Screenshot from Kate Berg's GeoPortfolio.  Taken 15-Feb-2021.
Screenshot from Kate Berg’s GeoPortfolio. Taken 15-February-2021.

Visitors can easily browse highlights of GIS projects she has worked on and get a sense of the tools and skills used.

Projects and accomplishments are organized by type. Projects are succinctly described with bolded sections so viewers can quickly see the tools, data, and skills used.

Jonah Adkins also has a compelling GIS portfolio built using Github and Jekyll. On his project page, all of his work is laid out in grid format.

The tags let users easily filter projects by software or skill type.

Screenshot from Jonah Adkin's project page.  Taken 2021-Feb-17.
Screenshot from Jonah Adkin’s project page. Taken 17-February-2021.

Click on the image to see it enlarged. Clicking on the project title or the View icon takes you to a short write-up about the project (or to a video link in the case of presentations).

What both these GIS portfolio’s offer is a visually compelling and organized overview of work done by these geospatial professionals. Portfolios like these are self explanatory in how to browse through them so links to them can be sent to prospective employers, conference organizers, or potential clients.

You can find more portfolio examples by doing a search for “GIS portfolio” on the web.


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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.