Ngaio Papa Whenua
Geospatial specialists gather and analyse geographic and spatial (location-based) information and use specialist software to present it in user-friendly formats such as maps and 3D models.
New geospatial specialists usually earn
$45K-$65K per year
Senior geospatial specialists usually earn
$70K-$120K per year
Source: SIBA, 2018.
Pay for geospatial specialists varies depending on experience, qualifications and what field they work in.
- Graduate geospatial specialists or geospatial analysts usually start on about $45,000 to $65,000 a year.
- Geospatial specialists with five or more years' experience usually earn $60,000 to $80,000.
- Those with at least 10 years' experience, or who work in consultancy or managerial roles, can earn $70,000 to $120,000 or more.
Source: SIBA New Zealand, 2018.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)
What you will do
Geospatial specialists may do some or all of the following:
- capture, process and analyse information such as survey data and aerial and satellite imagery
- use surveying technology like Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to define locations of features such as rivers, mountains or utility lines
- use and develop specialist Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software to turn complex data into more user-friendly formats, like maps and 3D virtual plans/models
- design data specifications (what data needs to be collected, how it should be collected, and how accurate it needs to be)
- write and present reports on geospatial data analysis
- convert paper maps into digital/electronic maps
- manage projects.
Skills and knowledge
Depending on their role, geospatial specialists need to have knowledge of:
- geospatial data analysis
- specialist geographic information systems (GIS) software
- computer modelling and database design
- computer programming
- geography and mathematics, including statistics.
- usually work regular business hours
- usually work in offices, but may do field trips to various locations to collect data.
What's the job really like?
GIS combined John's favourite subjects
"Before my first year at Otago University I was undecided on what career path to take. So I did a range of papers – geography, computing and surveying – and ended up mixing all three subjects by taking the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) programme.
"My favourite areas of study involved management issues in GIS, cartography and map production, and learning how aircraft and satellites capture data and photography from space.
"While at university I attended a Māori GIS Conference and saw how GIS can help realise the cultural significance and potential of Māori land. This was valuable for me as I have family links to Ngāti Whātua and Te Arawa.”
Skills in GIS analysis took John to Brisbane
"After working for a projects firm in New Zealand, I relocated to Brisbane as the sole GIS analyst on a multi-million dollar concept study for a natural gas project.
"My role involved designing facility layouts and locations, new road networks, routing of pipelines, and placement of well systems across 11,000 square kilometres in Queensland. I'm now back in New Zealand working in GIS with HERE Technologies.
Advice for aspiring geospatial specialists
"If you’re keen on GIS you could start by reading and using maps, and using GIS software and online map services. You will have a huge advantage if you become efficient using software and computers early on.”
John is of Ngāti Whātua and Te Arawa descent.
To become a geospatial specialist you need to have a Bachelor's degree in one of the following areas:
- applied science
- digital technologies – computer science.
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) papers may also be included as part of the degree.
A tertiary entrance qualification is required to enter further training. Useful subjects include English, maths, physics, geography, digital technologies, and design and visual communication (graphics).
Geospatial specialists need to be:
- analytical and good at problem solving
- good verbal and written communicators
- able to work independently and as part of a team.
Useful experience for geospatial specialists includes:
- computer modelling
- computer programming.
Geospatial specialists need to have good eyesight (with or without corrective lenses). For some roles you also need to have normal colour vision.
Experienced geospatial specialists can apply for certification through the Surveying and Spatial Sciences Institute, though this is not compulsory. Anyone with an undergraduate degree and experience may apply.
- Surveying and Spatial Sciences Institute website - information on geospatial specialist certification
Find out more about training
- New Zealand Esri Users Group
- LocationTech New Zealand
- 09 475 0234 - www.locationtech.org.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
Increasing demand for geospatial specialists
Demand for geospatial specialists is expected to continue to grow due to an increase in the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to organise information and create maps and models. This is because there is more demand for visual displays of data, such as maps showing local economic opportunities, animal migration patterns, or people's daily habits.
However, not enough people are training in this area. As a result, other spatial scientist (geospatial specialist) appears on Immigration New Zealand's long-term skill shortage list. This means the Government is actively encouraging skilled geospatial specialists from overseas to work in New Zealand.
Demand is highest for geospatial specialists with at least five years' experience, and skills in:
- database administration
- programming and spatial reasoning
- problem solving.
According to the Census, 18 geospatial specialists worked in New Zealand in 2018.
Useful to build geospatial specialist experience while studying
Building up experience while you study can increase your chances of getting a geospatial specialist job. There are lots of ways to get experience in GIS roles as you study or work such as through cadetships, scholarships and on-the-job training programmes.
Types of employers varied
Geospatial specialists are employed by:
- local and regional councils and council-owned organisations
- government departments and agencies such as Land Information New Zealand (LINZ)
- specialist GIS consultancy companies
- map and chart-making companies
- large companies working in industries such as forestry, transport/logistics, construction, mining and telecommunications
- Farrier, T, Spatial Industries Business Association (SIBA) representative, geospatial capability committee, careers.govt.nz interview, July 2018.
- Immigration New Zealand, 'Long Term Skill Shortage List', 19 February 2018, (www.immigration.govt.nz).
- O'Malley, G, principal advisor - geospatial capability building, location information, New Zealand Geospatial Office - Land Information New Zealand, careers.govt.nz interview, June 2018.
- Stats NZ, '2018 Census Data', 2019.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)
Progression and specialisations
Geospatial specialists may start out being employed as analysts before moving into managerial or consultancy roles.
Geospatial specialists usually focus on a particular aspect of the geospatial data process such as:
- data specification and capture
- data integration and analysis
- map design
- computer programming
- database administration
- project management
- system administration.
Geospatial specialists can specialise in a number of roles including:
- Geographic Information Systems Analyst
- Geographic information systems analysts use geospatial technology to read and analyse geographical data, and produce maps and visual representations of that data. They may also develop GIS software.
- Geospatial Analyst
- Geospatial analysts collect, analyse and record geographic data, and produce information to help businesses and users get the most from their spatial systems.
- Geospatial Data Specialist
- Geospatial data specialists have database administrator and data modelling experience, as well as expertise in spatial data and extract, transform, load (ETL) processes.
- Geospatial Developer
- Geospatial developers have experience in general software development, and write applications that have a spatial or mapping element.
- Geospatial Information Architect
- Geospatial information architects have knowledge of geospatial analysis, data, development and integration, and may become an expert in one or more specific geospatial technologies.
Last updated 27 April 2021