Teach them that "GIS Analyst" will be a rare job in 10 years - just like "Database Analyst" is today.My question(s): what do we mean by GIS Analyst in this context - what functions do they provide today that will be unnecessary or absorbed by other jobs? My official title is something like GIS analyst, though this kind of talk might be more disconcerting if I hadn't already oriented my career towards application development. But I know people I work with, professors, and certainly students today would be interested in discovering if this was in fact the case. If we were to properly investigate this matter, lets consider first what GIS analysts (which we can probably group with specialists, technicians, etc) do that makes them necessary today, and then, in part two, we can examine what that role might look like - if it exists at all - in the future. Here is a quick list of the roles I've seen played by GIS analysts:
- Map production: Your standard cartography work. Organizing the layers, layouts, titles, etc into an aesthetically pleasing package and either plotting/printing it off, or, more recently, publishing it as a service.
- Requirements gathering: Client communication, identifying potential solutions from user stories, project specification and some project management.
- Feature creation and maintenance: Gathering and organizing data from disparate sources, digitizing/COGO work. Associated documentation/metadata probably falls in here too.
- General IT/helpdesk support: Particularly the case when it is a small firm without a real IT department or person, or if that person/department is swamped, or doesn't know anything about GIS software, or IT's grasp on individual departments is tenuous.
- Database/content management: Organizing databases, particularly ESRI geodatabases - what belongs in a given dataset, should it be part of the network, etc. File management of documentation, supplementary data.
- Minor automation tasks: Modelbuilder, Python, VBA stuff. Almost any programming task where not knowing the basics of object oriented programming is not much of a hindrance (though it makes for terrible code).