Where are all the GIS Jobs Going?

Jul 29, 2015 -- There have been several layoffs over the last few months due to declining oil and gas prices and trends toward more cost effective management practices. This includes many mergers in the Oil and Gas sector by operators and vendors alike.

This has left many GIS professionals looking for jobs. For those looking in the current market right now, it is imperative to consider market trends and where the field is going. As companies merge, layoffs are typical. This occurs mostly where there is department overlap and overhead cost consideration. GIS falls directly into this category.

This trend can be seen in the following mergers of Oil, Gas and Energy companies:

  • Over the last two years Kinder Morgan, Inc. (KMI) has worked on the merger of all Kinder Morgan companies under KMI into one of the largest conglomerates in North America and the $3 Billion Hiland Acquisition.
  • The merger of Palmetto Engineering of Dallas, Texas and  CT&T, of North Little Rock, Arkansas last year.
  • Energy Transfer Company just completed its merger with Regency Energy Partners and has been trying to buy Williams with rumors for merger deals with Oneok and Targa resources.
  • Williams is already planning to merge Williams Cos. with Williams Partners, LP and is also increasing its equity interest in Utica East Ohio Midstream LLC.
  • The recent acquisition of Eagle Mapping Information Systems, Inc. by G2 Partners last December.

This is just the start of these large mergers as more companies try to stave off debt and compete in the international markets. Despite this growing trend The Bureau of Land Management expects a projected 14% job growth, from 54,000 jobs in 2012 to 61,300 jobs by 2022. Despite there being fewer companies to offer jobs. This is due to easier access of geospatial data by the regular consumer through products such as Google Earth and ArcGIS Online. The data used to fuel these applications from behind the scenes will still need creators, administrators and analysts.

As the Geospatial community career trend moves to online web mapping, cloud hosting and 3D visualization more people will have the ability to use geospatial data. OGSpace forecasts a decline in the average power user or the typical GIS analyst position as the end user has easier access to create, process, analyze and report on their own data relevant to their work. As the field grows and changes, it will require more specific knowledge, skills and abilities that many professionals have not developed over the changing technology – whether through habit or budget restraints.

With the availability of free training, GIS offered in high school, and open source GIS platforms becoming more available, the newer workforce will be more adapt to the advancing technology. This promotes a competitive environment as the retirement of older workers positions will need to be filled. While the older generation will still be able to compete for jobs, it will require more personal investment and re-education to the evolving industry standards as less companies exist to apply to.

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