Careers in New Mapping

Digital Mapping is a large and fast growing industry. A recent report for Google estimates that the global industry (defined as geoservices) has more than $200 billion dollars in yearly revenues and employs half a million people in the United States. Studies by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration defines geospatial technologies as a high growth industry and predicted that an additional 150,000 jobs would be created between 2010 and 2020.

As a result the U.S. Department of Labor notes that, “the widespread availability of advanced technologies offer great job opportunities for people with many different talents and educational backgrounds.”

Below we outline a series of different job descriptions from GIS Technician to Data Scientist to give you a better sense of how the New Maps Plus program can prepare you for a career in this exciting industry.

Read more about exciting careers in digital mapping below.

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Potential Careers

Designer

Geovisualization is a booming field that brings design thinking into contact with data science and geographical expertise to make and communicate meaning from geospatial data. Geovisualization is part of the larger user interface and user experience (UI/UX) fields which is one of the top ten job titles that didn't exist five years ago. Supported by an expanding landscape of software platforms, innovative scripting tools, and volunteered geographic information, geovisualization designers will take a leading role in framing and communicating today’s social and environmental challenges; an information architecture for our complex and interconnected world.

The New Maps Plus graduate certificate and master’s degree programs will empower students to meaningfully address the challenges of doing data-driven-design in the complicated world of big (geo)-data. The New Maps Plus degree programs offer access to the UK Department of Geography’s internationally-recognized expertise in scholarship on the geospatial web, cartography, and GIS scholarship, which merges critical sensibilities with technical sophistication and geographical knowledge to provide students with the skills to make maps that matter.

Data Scientist

The job of a data scientist is one of the newest types of digital mapping-related careers. Building on the increasing amount of geotagged data that has appeared over the past decade – the phenomenon of so called “big data” – data scientists gather, analyze and present data in meaningful and visually appealing ways. And it is one of the fastest growing professions.

Becoming a spatial data scientist takes an artist’s sensibility, a critical mindset and a range of evolving technical skills to combine data in new ways to create meaning and understanding to spatially based questions. While this sounds similar to the traditional purview of cartographers there are a couple of key differences.

First, programming skills have become the key ways in which data is accessed, cleaned and made ready for analysis.

Second, statistical knowledge is an important means by which data is examined and used to find patterns and clusterings.

Third, critical design sensibilities (particularly UI/UX) are essential for creating geovisualizations that help users explore data and answer tough questions.

The New Maps Plus graduate certificate and master’s degree program provides the background needed in all three skills sets. More importantly, NMP teaches you how to keep on learning and building upon your skills and sensibilities as you advance in your career.

Local Government GIS Technician

Local governments provide many GIS and mapping services to the public and are one of the largest employers of GIS professionals. From maps of bike lanes to zoning areas, cities constantly publish visual information to help residents understand and engage in their city’s changing landscape and infrastructure.

Sometimes the proprietary GIS software platforms pose limitations on public outreach with maps. For example, a mapping project for an urban reforestation initiative needed to publish photographs and video on a zoomable map that can be updated over time. But the software in use didn’t include the costly online subscription to publish an interactive map leading instead to publishing traditional, static PDF maps.

The New Maps Plus curriculum provides a less costly alternative by using open source GIS applications to provide a work flow to publish powerful maps online without the restrictions or limitations of licenses. Plus the New Maps Plus approach allows one to tap into a robust community of support, ranging from weekly interaction with instructors to critiques by top developers in open source mapping applications. The program also shows how to integrate existing GIS workflows into these new open source environments and helps build programming skills that can be applied to systems within existing proprietary software.

The biggest bonus is that publishing new dynamic maps using open source solutions can help increased engagement with city mapping products and information without the added cost of licenses. The New Maps Plus program can help liberate your maps for the greater public good. With mapping jobs, such as in local government, expected to grow faster than the average compared to other occupations, this program will keep you on top of the emerging wave of mapping technology.

Data Journalist

Data journalism recently became indispensable to the survival of news agencies and their ability to quickly obtain, understand, and deliver meaningful information across a variety of media platforms, particularly the web. Data journalists now augment traditional investigative journalism and news reporting, seizing new opportunities to tell richer stories through novel uses of emerging data visualization tools and techniques. The growing demand for this role requires a new set of skills and expertise. Check out the use of maps in these New York Times stories about Snow Fall and A Year in Interactive Storytelling.

New Maps Plus recognizes that data journalists work within a fast-paced flow of information. Understanding how to find it through data hubs and portals is imperative for the job, as well as how to use APIs to retrieve it in manageable data formats. Speed is essential, and journalists need people with the skills to script and automate information processing to produce timely graphic narratives.

More important than hiring technologists specializing solely in code, data journalism seeks the “full stack” designers and developers, the jacks of all trades also capable of teaching themselves quickly emerging mapping tools and technologies. Once information is culled and filtered from the growing sea of available data, journalists today harness new techniques for seeing simple, meaningful patterns.

Chief among these techniques are interactive web graphics, particularly maps often linked with coordinated information visualizations such as timelines and scatterplots. Data journalists creatively combine traditional wordsmithing of journalistic reporting with new forms of engaging geospatial storytelling. Graduates of New Maps Plus will be well-positioned to provide ways to see such narratives within information and share that with the broader public.

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