Higher Education

No More Map Layouts: Programming, Developer Ops, and Cloud Computing Skills Will Get GIS Students Jobs

What are the geographic information system (GIS) skills and types of experience that industry is looking for in graduates? Honestly, I really wanted to know as well!

“What are the skills I should focus on?” This is a question I have discussed with students and faculty, and it always seems to be the top question from the audience in any GIS lecture.

In this series, I wanted to talk directly with GIS users to understand the skill sets that they are looking for. As companies look to hire, what do they need? What makes an individual stand out? How are companies using GIS, and how do they see it changing?

In this first installment, I sit down with Matt Gaffner, a solution engineer with DTN. DTN is an Esri partner that provides weather data services and forecasts to customers.

Over the course of our 15-minute discussion, Gaffner provides some fantastic insights that should help provide students and faculty with some guidance on that top skills question.

As Gaffner discusses in depth, GIS has become much more dynamic and has gained many real-time and web-based capabilities over the last few years. If real-time weather alerts based on the real-time proximity of vehicles doesn’t illustrate how much GIS has changed in the past few years, I don’t know what does. Students who can come to the table with skills in cloud computing and programming will find themselves in high demand.

Watch the video interview with Matt Gaffner.


Visit the Modern GIS in Higher Education web page, geared for faculty and students. There, you’ll find lessons, guides, resources, and more, if you are looking to incorporate modern GIS technology and skills into your curriculum.

About the author

Brian currently works as a Senior Solution Engineer supporting Higher Education and has been working in the geospatial industry for more than 13 years. GIS brought Brian to the frozen tundra of Duluth MN as a digitizer, to the Big Island of Hawaii as a GIS Analyst, and the streets of Milwaukee as a Crime Analyst. Brian has taught GIS at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Salem State University. Brian is also a proud Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, father of 2, and husband to 1.


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