How to combine Geoscience and Geographic Information Systems and become twice as hire-able now.

Hey Everyone!

Geoscience was my first love. I spent my academic career in the geoscience roles doing fun research and traveling the world.

But I found a new love, Geographic Information Systems. In a stroke of luck (or pure genius) I discovered an amazing combination of science disciplines.

Geoscience and GIS is a perfect match and I didn’t even know it!

I spent 99.99% of my time in front of a computer writing code and never appreciated just where all the data I played with came from.

Turns out that geoscience is not just “sit-in-front-of-your-computer-all-day” career. You can go out into the field and harness GIS to do amazing geoscience research and acquisition.

Yes geologists do GIS, but the ones I have known knew didn’t have in-depth training. They were taught about rocks, but not how to create a map for field surveys.  

Having excellent geographic training and solid GIS software foundations, will make you twice as hire-able. Having GIS will also give you skills outside of geoscience.

GIS and Geoscience are a great combination for career advancement. GIS is also useful in other fields!
GIS and Geoscience are a great combination for career advancement. GIS is also useful in other fields!

Why do the geoscience and geographic information system fit so well together?

First is straight forward, we live and operate on the surface of the earth. GIS gives us a powerful tool to plan, execute, and analyze complex geographical operations. With complex GIS techniques and technologies we can visualize the earth’s surface and subsurface.

With detail spatial analysis we can understand rock formations, dip and strike of geology, plan better surveys, model water flow (both surface and subsurface), detect geo-hazards like unstable slopes and flood areas.

The value of GIS extends into other earth sciences that combine even more disciplines like biology, ecology, and social science. The parralells are

Here are some steps below that you can take to better combing GIS and Geoscience.

Get GIS training NOW.

GIS is a great add on to many disciplines and should not be seen as single career goal. Taking a 1 year college degree, or two year masters in GIS will prepare you for an amazing future.

Get trained in GIS. Pick and poke learning is ok, but getting insights and feedback from humans is best.
Get trained in GIS. Pick and poke learning is ok, but getting insights and feedback from humans is best.

On-line courses are good too but I am a huge advocate for in-person in-class training. Something powerful happens when humans come together to pass on information.

Take what works best for you and get start  your GIS training now.

Start your work at the GIS level.

For years I made the mistake of jumping right into the geophysical data I had on my computer without knowing where it came from. Noise in the data was XY Hz, missing sections were just gone, and data wasn’t acquired in perfectly straight lines because reason.

The GIS cycle is a good place to start to understand your geoscience data.
The GIS cycle is a good place to start to understand your geoscience data.

If you start at the GIS level, you will see that the noise came from roads, the missed sections were flooded areas, and lines were not perfectly straight because of dense forest.

Starting with your geoscience data at the GIS level will get your out of head and into the real world.

Get involved in field operations with GIS.

GIS as a planning tool is essential and not just for field operations. You valuable geoscience knowledge can be integrated for a deeper understanding once you start seeing how data is acquired.

GIS is versatile and will help you with understanding your data.

You will get to see how remote sensing can help you understand geology better. Canopy cover and bare earth will show you how field operations will progress. You may discover something new, like how flood plains are good locations for acquisition, but bad if rain comes.

Once again, GIS will get your out of your head and into the real world.

GIS is part of your final results and improvements.

Analyzing your field data by itself is just not enough for a complete understanding of the geoscience. Understanding the limitations you had during the planning process and during field acquisition will make you aware of what is going on with your data.

Your final results including GIS will have a more nuanced understanding of how future data will need to be acquired. “Can we get better data next time” will turn into “We need multispectral remote sensing data to plan where our geophones are going to be placed”.

Improve your GIS mindsets.

I have learned over the years that “how-to” knowledge is common. The software you need to learn for GIS has great manuals, plenty of free “click-here-do-that” resources and instructional videos everywhere.

Geographic Information Success

What is hard to teach, and hard to learn, are mindsets needs for success.

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Build a Bulletproof GIS… but before you begin, you have have this: Purpose

I love Geographic Information Systems, but this was not always the case. In this post I am going to talk about the first step in building a great found foundation for GIS, and my future blog posts about how to build a bulletproof GIS.

You can start here if you haven’t even clicked your first buffer, or if you just finished your last GIS course, if you are struggling to get your GIS career off the ground, or find yourself in a GIS rut.

I am going to teach you how to 10 more effective in GIS, double your value in GIS, and massively increase your impact (and make more money) in GIS.

So what is a bulletproof GIS anyway?

Over the past few years I have been putting together geographic information systems that allow me maximum creativity, maximizing my time, maximize safety, and maximize cash. I have made some huge gains along the way, but I have also made some huge mistakes.

What I am going to teach you is how to avoid mistakes and create a better GIS so you can have an amazing career.

Here is something not many people know about me, I few short years ago, I would not have been able to tell you what GIS stood for.

Yes I used maps all the time, I even made maps in Photoshop and Illustrator for presentation, figures for scientific papers, technical talk slides, my thesis, and teaching. “Maps” had their purpose, but GIS was just not on my radar.

Then I found GIS, and I never worked harder, I never learned more, and I never loved a topic as much as GIS in my life. Yes, this includes my PhD in Geophysics (probably a blog or two on that one day).

Why did I work so hard and why did I have so much success in GIS?

It turns out that we humans are purpose driven creatures. We do way better in life if we have a target that we are aiming at, or a goal we are working towards.

The saying “Where there’s a will, there’s a way” should actually be “Where there’s a purpose, there’s a way”.

For me, my purpose in GIS was straight forward. I needed a job.

Little did I know when I started GIS just how awesome it is.

My purpose for needing a job drove me to figure out what I needed to accomplish.

My purpose in GIS changed rapidly as I progressed through my courses and shifted from “I need a Job” to “I need a job I love” to “How can I build a job I love?” and it didn’t stop.

The world of GIS has massive opportunities spanning multiple industries, using some very cool technology. Your purpose in GIS will shift rapidly as you progress, and that’s a good thing.

Finding your ultimate purpose in the world is a very large task and beyond this little blog post. It is well worth finding of course, and I encourage you to do your searching if you have not already discovered your purpose.

I have created a worksheet to help you figure out how to best deal with your purpose as it is related to GIS. You can down load the sheets below.


Identify your purpose with respect to GIS. Do what it takes to get it done with respect to GIS.

GIS is Awesome! So… now what? This is a little awkward…

Geographic Information Systems is AMAZING! It’s technologies and software are everywhere and used to generate not only an impact in the world, but also money! I fell in love with GIS (not literal love… geeez) after seeing it work first hand in field operations for resource exploration.

But I also noticed not everyone I knew who took GIS was getting a great job. Some had low level “click here, do that” GIS jobs, and some couldn’t find any employment at all. After getting asked over and over again on my LinkedIn account about GIS jobs, I realized something.

Skills are common, Mindsets are NOT.

Any keen person could teach themselves the GIS software through trial and error. I taught myself the Adobe suite of products (Photoshop, Illustrator, Aftereffects, Premiere Pro) over a number of years via YouTube (and Pre YouTube… yes I am little oldish). I am no Adobe expert, but I have skills. Skills are common, Mindsets are not.

A lady who trained in GIS at the same time as me was so mad about not finding a GIS job, she said “I could have learned all I needed to from YouTube videos!” For her, I would say this was true. She could easily have learned “Click Here Do That” from a video and she probably learned this why which is why she ended up with no job at all.

So let me reiterate, Skills are common, Mindsets are NOT.

We had the same practical training in GIS which essentially consisted of “Click Here Do That, Repeat”. I exaggerate of course, there is TONS to learn in GIS and the program I took can be found here which was AMAZING. Also, skills may be common, but they are very VERY important.

If you don’t know how to create a buffer from a subset of objects selected based on their proximity to an attribute within a subset of line features selected by attributed polygons in your Geodatabase, you are missing some very important fundamentals.

The differences between my GIS experience and others is that GIS is not just about the skills or the software, which are VERY important of course. What is essential for success and to make an impact on the world (and money), are mindsets.

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