Geospatial Analytics Specialists


Education and Training Requirements

High School

You will need a strong background in computer science (including programming, computer graphics, and database management), science (chemistry, physics, biology), mathematics (algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and calculus), geography, and social studies, so take as many of these classes in these fields as your school offers. Additionally, take English, speech, writing, and foreign language courses to help develop your research, writing, and oral communication skills.

Postsecondary Education

For most positions, you will need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in geographic information systems, cartography, or another geospatial-related field. More than 800 colleges and universities offer classes, certificates, and degrees in geographic information science. Visit the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science’s Web site,, for a list of member schools. Some employers hire GASs with only an associate’s degree, but also require them to have considerable experience in lower-level analytics positions.

Some colleges are beginning to offer degrees in geospatial analytics. For example, Delta State University offers a bachelor of applied science in geospatial analysis and intelligence. Classes in this program (which is accredited by the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation) include:

  • Advanced Remote Sensing
  • Geospatial Math, Algorithms, & Statistics
  • Geospatial Practicum
  • Geospatial Project Planning
  • Internet, GIS, & Spatial Databases
  • Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
  • Introduction to Remote Sensing
  • Programming GIS
  • Techniques in Intelligence Analysis
  • Topographic Mapping
  • Trends in Spatial Technologies


Many colleges and universities offer undergraduate- and graduate-level certificates in GIS, cartography, geospatial intelligence, and related fields. The United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation accredits certificate and degree programs in geospatial intelligence. Visit for a list of accredited programs. The Urban and Regional Information Systems Association offers a list of accredited GIS-related certificate programs at

Other Education or Training

In-person classes and workshops, as well as webinars, are offered by professional associations such as the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, Association of American Geographers, Geospatial Information & Technology Association, MAPPS, United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation, and Urban and Regional Information Systems Association. Contact these organizations for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Geospatial analytics specialists can receive voluntary certification from the GIS Certification Institute. Applicants must have at least four years of experience, pass an examination, and meet other requirements. The exam tests students’ knowledge in the following areas: Conceptual Foundations, Geospatial Data Fundamentals, Cartography & Visualization, Data Acquisition, Data Manipulation, Analytical Methods, Database Design & Management, Application Development, Systems Design & Management, and Professional Practice. Applicants who meet the certification requirements can use the designation GIS professional. Visit to learn more.

Certification for geospatial technologists and scientists is offered by the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing. Applicants must meet experience requirements and pass an examination. For more information, visit

Special Requirements

Some employers may run background checks for prospective GAS hires to ensure that they will qualify for necessary security clearance. U.S. citizenship might also be required.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

The majority of GASs have a bachelor’s degree, but some employers hire analysts with an associate’s degree and considerable (five to 10 years) on-the-job experience in lower-level positions.

To be a successful GAS, you must have knowledge of ArcGIS or other geospatial software, as well as skill at using Google Earth, Microsoft Virtual Earth, and similar open source data review tools. You also need technical experience with designing, creating, editing, and maintaining geodatabases and metadata for various projects; must be able to use data mining tools; have knowledge of quantitative and qualitative analytic methodologies; and have Python scripting experience.

Key personal traits for GSAs include strong analytical skills; the ability to work effectively in a fast-paced, sometimes stressful environment; curiosity; attention to detail; problem-solving acumen; excellent oral and written communication skills; and the ability to work independently with little oversight.