GIS Freelancing And Highest-Paid GIS Jobs

What is GIS?

Geographic information system (GIS) encompasses interpreting, storing, capturing, visualizing, displaying, checking, and analyzing any data related to geography. For example, GIS uses computers to provide relevant information for road maps and borders. 

World map made using geographic information system (GIS)

GIS freelancing may require expertise in computer science, engineering, geography, cartography, and the use of specific software. 

The services offered are mostly technical tasks that involve the use of Information Technology. Many freelancers offering GIS services work online and earn from a high-paying skill.

What a GIS freelancer does

There are many freelance platforms and various services to offer as a GIG freelancer. Here are 20 ideas for GIG freelancing:

  • GIS mapping
  • forest transect
  • geodatabase
  • map creation and updates
  • map plotting 
  • Mobile GIS applications developement
  • elevation
  • 3D modeling in City Engine and ArcGIS
  • georeferencing of image 
  • web embedding, digitization, interactive maps
  • geofence creation
  • conversion of Geographic Data
  • gis programming
  • marking Locations
  • spacial analysis
  • satellite image classification
  • flow Contouring
  • geostatistical 
  • suitability mapping
  • Google Earth mapping

GIS freelancing is a great way to make extra money or even earn a living online. The earnings may vary depending on your specialties. For example, a basic remote sensing task can cost $50, while a complete interactive map and web embedding can cost $500. 

Where to sell a GIS gig

Some people sell their services on their websites without using any other platforms. But, freelance websites are the most common way to start a gig. Here are 5 freelance websites to sell GIG services:

  • Upwork
  • Fiverr
  • Freelancer.com
  • PeoplePerHour

Some platforms like freelancer.com are freelance bidding sites, and others like Fiverr are not. 

Highest Paid GIS Jobs

Geographic Information Systems jobs are highly in demand even during the corona-virus pandemic because of its efficiency in analyzing the spatial and changing world in digital systems. 

According to an article of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, work vacancies for Remote sensing and GIS technicians, scientists, and technologists will rise by three to nine percent with higher starting salaries. 

GIS includes people having geographical literacy, Computer literacy, technical programming skills, and high management skills at respective job positions. It is one of the reasons why GIS workers can have high salaries:

  • Geographic Information Officer ($98,696) 
  • GIS Managers ($81,029) 
  • GIS specialist ($63,418)
  • GIS programmer ($80,752)
  • GIS Analyst ($62,226), 
  • GIS Technician (47,225), 
  • GIS Business Development /Sales and Marketing ($103,883), 
  • Senior CAD Designers (+$80,000) 
web map

Geographic Information Officer earnings

GIS officers have an average salary of $98,696. They are engaged in the acquisition, storage, review, and display of geographical and spatial data. In the field, they use various GPS apps to capture the position of artifacts, including bridges, street lights, road walls, and flood defenses. 

GIS managers salary

 GIS managers earn on average $81,029 a year. They plan and execute all facets of the City’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) programs, including facilitating project teams, defining personnel, and setting project goals, deadlines, and benchmarks, and designing guidelines for GIS implementation and usage.  

GIS programmer average income

A GIS programmer earns $80,752 on average. The responsibilities of GIS Programmer ranges to create network mapping software and geoprocessing capabilities to complement GIS. Recognize consumer expectations and create a GIS framework to satisfy market requirements. 

Analyze consumer problems and provide effective solutions. Make displays and demonstrations to ensure that consumers appreciate the GIS program. Maintain and help the application following changing market needs.

Assist in data integrity and quality assurance practices to ensure the stability of the program. Ensure that the technology architecture satisfies the needs of the enterprise. It seems they have a massive chunk of the core responsibilities in this field. 

GIS specialist average earnings

GIS specialist’s average salary is about $63,418, but it fluctuates widely from experience to experience. They plan, build, and incorporate geospatial data access and storage systems and databases. They use mapping tools to evaluate the results. GIS specialists create visual maps from geospatial data and interpret both spatial and non-spatial data.

GIS analyst income

GIS analyst salary ranges from $62,226 to $80k+. The primary responsibilities include using mapping tools to interpret geographical data and create visual maps. GIS Analysts collect this data to make recommendations on how to use land. They also predict and archive geographic shifts and manage the digital databases that carry geospatial data. 

GIS technician expected salary

A GIG technician may expect to earn on average $47,225. GIS technologists develop tailored maps in Geographic Information Systems applications for businesses and government departments. They extract, implement new map data, draw maps with design tools and handle data in the GIS database. 

Senior CAD Designers salary

A GIS CAD Designer earns on average more than $80k and contracts with programming assistance to develop concept plans and prototypes for a particular project requirement. According to the project demand, a CAD designer uses different technologies and application software to create geographical illustrations. 

 GIS relates to many different branches, careers, and educational backgrounds. Mostly you can learn on your own, but your skills should match your offer. As, by 2023, the GIS market will grow up to $17.5 billion.

a person using a tablet for mapping and geolocation

Best GIS software and tools for freelancers

GIS is a field where new technology has enormous importance. Here are some tools and software for GIS freelancing:

  • OptiMap
  • ArcGIS
  • Google My Maps
  • Batch Geocoding
  • City Engine
  • JOSM
  • Google Street View
  • Geofence
  • GAMA platform
  • Arcmap
  • Qgis

It is helpful to join a social network and maybe participate in conferences related to what you plan to do in GIS. 

What are the qualifications for being a GIS contractor

Meeting with other GIS workers, going on job boards, reading job descriptions will give you a better understanding of what is expected in term of:

  • experience
  • degree
  • certificate
  • knowing how to use a specific tool or software

Most GIS jobs require a degree and solid knowledge of geography. But sometimes, experience may be the most crucial requirement for landing a contract. 

Experience in GIS

Getting experience in GIS is possible even before landing your first job. Here are a few websites to consider to engage in a community and get more information about GIS jobs:

These are a few places where you can find people like you looking to build a successful career in GIS or make some extra money with GiG freelancing. 

Peers and community support play a significant role in success. When you start, it is better to participate in open mapping or humanitarian projects to build a network and gain experience instead of doing nothing. 

How to start freelance GIS for small towns and cities

With the development of Arcgis online and other GIS software, small cities and towns can hire contractors or GIS agencies at a lower cost. You, as a freelancer, can offer services that help them get so much value for an affordable price.

Many small towns cannot afford to hire a full-time GIS expert and outsource GIS services related to urban planning. Mapping for land suitability, modeling, and analysis are a few tasks in demand. 

City managers are always looking for better services at a lower cost. Offering your services as an independent contractor could be the solution for them. Any GIS experience you have is going to help you get that full-time gis gig.

You can either get paid per hour or set a flat fee per project. By purchasing a standard license of ArcGIS, you can have access to ArcMap and its other associated programs. Or use any other ArcGIS alternative listed before.

locating on map

You will need a powerful computer that can process a high amount of data and a demanding workflow, for example, a workstation or a gaming computer that could handle the heavy graphic content of GIS.

Make a list of potential clients by looking at cities with a few thousand inhabitants. Visit their websites and social pages to evaluate their GIS content. Once you find a good candidate, find out who is in charge of GIS and put him on the list. 

When you are ready, email your potential client by showing them how they can benefit from your services. Do not ask for a job. But instead, you give them a solution to their problems.

For example, you may offer to convert their outdating pdf zoning map into an interactive online map. Insist on how your offer can help them save time, lower their expenses, or improve people’s lives. 

Networking is part of every business. Start with the connections you have and then try to make new connections to expand your reach.

You can also offer map digitizing to avoid information loss and improve data accessibility. At first, they may not see the advantages, and you may have to demonstrate how some changes can be effective with previous work. 

In the beginning, you need to accept some low-paying contracts as they will help you acquire experience, and some of them can help you find returning customers. You can start by creating your own website or by joining Fiverr as a seller.


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