Studying the Geospatial Career Path
Authors: Elenora van Rijsingen, Esther Moore, Helen Whiteley, Katie Stenson, Stefanie Lumnitz
Elenora van Rijsingen, Esther Onyekachi Moore, Helen Whiteley, Katie Stenson, and Stefanie Lumnitz from the Women in Geospatial+ 2nd mentorship cohort studied the career paths of over 100 women and men working in the geospatial domain. A survey was administered and completed by persons from within the WiG+ community and from the public.
The objective of this project was to understand and visualize career paths of participants across the geospatial domain, types of skills that link to certain jobs/sectors, as well as salary ranges linked to location, years of experience or public and private sectors. The result of the survey is intended to provide useful information for anyone looking to start a career, or change their career path within geospatial.
The survey centered around participant’s current and previous jobs in geospatial, one’s level of education as well as their technical and soft skills.
134 responses were received across 32 countries and 117 (87.3%) were female while 17 (12.7%) were male.
Fig. 1: Map showing the location of the respondents. Source: 2021 WiG+ 23 Geospatial Career Path Survey
Sector distribution of the participants
Of the 134 responses, 44.8% confirmed to be working currently in the Industry sector with the second highest, 26.1%, working in Government followed by 16.4% who worked in Academia. Others worked in Non-Governmental Organizations, Charity organizations, IT services, Research institutes and a few of the participants were students.
Fig. 2: Pie chart showing the sector distribution of the respondents. Source: 2021 WiG+ 23 Geospatial Career Path Survey
Sector, in this study, refers to the broader grouping of various job specialties which can be applied under the same or similar umbrella, while fields refer to the more specific areas in which these specialties are applied.
Specific Job Fields of the Participants
About 70% of the respondents identified with the term “GIS/geospatial” in their job title. This was expected considering the dissemination of the survey in channels of communication predominantly used by the GIS community (i.e., private LinkedIn posts of the participants, Posts in Forums and Slack channels of the Women in Geospatial+ community) – 61.9% confirmed to be members of the Women in Geospatial+ community.
The specific fields in which the respondents worked spanned across geospatial, engineering, technology, transportation, utilities, agriculture and a variety of others.
Fig. 3: Showing the career fields of the participants current job. Source: 2021 WiG+ 23 Geospatial Career Path Survey
Sector movement of the Participants between first and current Geospatial job
Notable was the little career movement from one sector to another when comparing the participants’ first and current geospatial jobs. Career movement across the sectors stay balanced, as each of the sectors saw minimal increase or decrease of the original participant size.
The Sankey chart in Fig. 4 shows the movement across sectors between the first and current geospatial job of the participants. We observed some movement from the Government sector to Industry and Academia, and then some inflow into the Government sector from Industry, Academia and NGO. Although, there are movements, a large proportion of participants remained working in their respective beginning sector throughout their career until the date of the survey.
Fig. 4: Sankey chart showing the movement across the sectors. Source: 2021 WiG+ 23 Geospatial Career Path Survey
Participants movement across continents between first and current geospatial job
Most participants remained in the continent they started their career journey till the time of the survey. However, it is observed in Fig. 5 that 36% of participants from Africa, 23% from Asia and 50% from South America leave their continents to other continents where their current geospatial jobs are based. Overall, there is little movement across continents but can be observed that a large proportion of the movement go to Europe.
Fig. 5: Sankey chart showing the movement across continent from first to current geospatial job. Source: 2021 WiG+ 23 Geospatial Career Path Survey
Current salary in current geospatial jobs by Sector
The current salary ranges of participants according to the years of experience was analyzed. We observed that participants working in industry experienced a gradual increase of salary over time, while participants working in academia maintained a low salary range in early years before a sudden increase in salary after the 5-year mark as seen in Fig. 6. This could be for a variety of reasons; however, the study size is too little to make any concrete assumptions.
Fig. 6: Bar chart showing the current salary against the number of years of experience of the respondents. Source: 2021 WiG+ 23 Geospatial Career Path Survey
First and current salary comparison/growth
Comparing the first and current salary of respondents across different sectors indicates an increase of salary with concurrent roles across all the sectors. Participants working within the government sector reported higher earnings than those in industry as shown in Fig. 7.
Fig. 7: Bar chart showing the first and current salary of respondents across sectors. Source: 2021 WiG+ 23 Geospatial Career Path Survey
First and current salary by top 3 countries of participants
Comparing first and current salary ranges of the top three countries where the survey respondents are located, participants living in the USA reported highest current earnings. Hereby, we did not account for participants who switched sector or country during their career journey as the sectors and countries were determined based on their current job for visualization purposes.
Fig 8: Bar chart showing the first and current salary across the top 3 countries of the respondents. Source: 2021 WiG+ 23 Geospatial Career Path Survey
Common skills in the geospatial domain according to the participants
Noteworthy were the skills identified in Fig. 9 as most important career skills within the survey responses, the most popular being communication skills, the second most popular being programming skills followed by GIS analysis skills, amongst a variety of other skills.
Fig. 9: Word cloud showing the soft and technical skills from the survey responses. Source: 2021 WiG+ 23 Geospatial Career Path Survey
Other direct advice on skills fostering a career in geospatial collected by a variety of respondents included:
“Getting certified in Geog(GIS), RGS IBG gave a real boost to my career, keep growing your skill sets, contribute to your profession through volunteering, presenting at conferences…”
“One must ace the technical skills in their niche”
“Being a woman in a technical field isn’t easy, so I’ve learned how to present myself with confidence, assertiveness, and a sense of humor. Presentation and communication skills have been key for getting my point across in male dominated meetings.”
Additionally, a number of respondents highlighted: receiving mentorship form their professional supervisors as being an advantage in getting ahead in their careers.
The Women in Geospatial+ Group 23 team
Forging a geospatial community where all genders can thrive.Inspire. Unite. Empower.