Todd Barr


GIS Analyst Salary Breakdown

GIS Analyst Salary Breakdown

A long long time ago, in a District Far Far away — I was sitting in a windowless room in SE DC. I was the Lead GIS Developer and I shared a room with the Lead GIS Analyst. When you’re in a room without internet you spend a BUNCH of time talking. I’m not sure what was the catalyst in the conversation that lead to salary, but he indicated that he was making X, and figured I was making X. Nope, I was making about 30% more than X. I knew our skill sets were different, but it was the first indicator of the “Developer/Analyst” gap in pay for GIS.

Fast forward, Jesus 14 years, I’m in Boston at a hard to get reservations for Italian eatery with other GIS folks. The night away from FOSS4G shenanigans. Again, I have no idea how we came onto a salary conversation but it did. And the younger developers indicated how much they made. Mentally, I was spot on with her salary, from what I know of her skills and her experience. I know how developer’s salaries work, but talking to recent graduates and other folks looking for jobs in GIS that salaries seem low.

Soon I’ll talk about GIS Developer positions in comparison to normal Developer positions salary and the mass difference there. (Spoiler, this is why we’re losing developers)

So, I decided to do some research into what are the factors that affect the salary of a GIS Analyst.

I’m relying on the research from here for this analysis.

Caveat, we are going to be dealing with national averages across both private organizations and public agencies, COLAs aren’t applied. That being said, the mean income for a GIS Analyst comes in at around 51K a year.

Also, this is only including salary, bonuses and other perks are not included.

Payscale’s methodology is bases on the requirements within job descriptions (skills, experience) and how those impact the overall salary of a GIS Analyst.

First, Experience

Really, when you’re late career all your money goes into Aleve and comfortable shoes

The way this breaks down is Late Career is greater than 20 years. Experienced is 10–15 years, Mid-Career is 5–10 years, and less than that is Entry- Level.

Second, Skills

Yeah this is Ugly, I know its Ugly, but I was watching the final episode of Ballers

Umm wow.

So, if you are a GIS Analyst, learning Database Management and Reporting is the almost the same salary bump as being in the industry for 20 years. <cough> level up your shit </cough>. I’ve been screaming for years about learning SQL.

The equivalent bump of being an Analyst for 15 years, is Web Development. So picking up Javascript, and how to work with Server tech might be in your best interest.

Giving you the same salary boost as being Mid Career professional, is Data Modeling. Understanding how to produce conceptual data models as well as understanding the customer/client’s data requirements are key to anyone. Part of these skills really can’t be taught. Understanding the questions to ask a client takes experience.

Autocad gives an Analyst a 2% increase in salary. I think may just really be due to rarity of the skills. Also, there is a push of Autocad 3D model builders with gaming and with the advancement of AR, you’ll see a bunch more of that.

Coming in at “having a total null effect in your overall salary” — Data Analysis — make senses since this is what you’re SUPPOSE to know. Database Management, is a bit surprising, but again, a basic knowledge of data storage should be required. Now Python? Python. Really. Python. Python? Nooooo. Python? Okay, I’ll stop yelling at people to learn Python, I guess.

narrator: He did not stop yelling at people to learn Python

So there are the positives and the neutral affects on a GIS Analyst’s salary, now lets look at the negative influences on an Analyst’s salary.

Data Management, (note not Database Management) has a negative impact of 1% on the Analyst’s salary. This is different from data modeling, as this is just understanding the processes of data creation management and removal of data. Again, basic knowledge for anyone within the GIS world, or at least it should be.

For the next variable we must remember, that I did not make this list, if ArcGIS is a requirement for the position the total compensation for that position will be 2% less than the national average. Again, this is probably due to how common this is. Sure, there are a bunch more ArcGIS positions, but they they don’t pay as well.

Two mainstays of “classic” GIS, GPS use and Cartography, both lead to a 2% drag down on the overall salary. Both of these are really undervalued in GIS. Data collection, and making the maps easy to read are the blocking and passing of GIS. I mean, I’m not a map maker, but I appreciate those who are.

Lastly, Microsoft Office. Ugh, positions with MS Office in the description come in at 6% less than the national average. A number of years ago, James Fee posted an ad from Craigslist where they were looking for an Administrative Assistant with GIS skills. I think the pay was like 12 bucks an hour. Pretty sure this has more to do with experience. Anyone who has been in the industry, hell ANY industry, for a couple of years has knowledge of office software. I mean, how else are you suppose to open someone’s spreadsheet that they call a database.

While its always hard to predict what skills you will need in 5 years, judging from this list, if you want to stick around as an Analyst, go pick up Database and Web Skills. In other words, move closer to being a developer than an Analyst.

So basically, the skills you picked up either at your training or your school actually REDUCE your overall salary. Picking up web skills and database skills causes your salary to increase by, well a bunch.

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to see how we can fix this. Stay tuned.

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