Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
Frequently Asked Questions
- Do I need a GIS Certificate?
The short answer: It’s better to have a GIS Certificate than not have one.
The longer answer is more complicated. GIS Certificates vary widely from program to program, and while the GIS Certificate at MSU Denver is one of the more inclusive at 8 classes, some are as little as 2 classes. There are also test-based certification programs, so not all GIS certificates are built equally.
More important than the word ‘certificate’ are the skills that you build. Develop a curiosity in the subject, and build projects, maps, and artifacts that demonstrate your proficiency with GIS. That way, when you go for a job or apply for graduate school, you’ll have material that you can talk about that demonstrates your level of competency with GIS.
- Where can I find GIS jobs?
- Along the Front Range, be sure to subscribe to the GIS Colorado list. http://giscolorado.org
- How do I get experience when I need experience to get a job?
It’s true that many jobs require experience. This frustrates many new job seekers, but there is hope and there are options!
- Internships – students who major in our Geospatial Sciences BS degree are required to have an internship. Using an internship to build experience is a great way to develop GIS skills, particularly if you’re paid for your work.
- Volunteer – does your church need a map? A website? Does your favorite cause need some analysis? Think about building skills while working for your favorite cause.
- Small jobs – After two or three GIS classes, you may have enough skills to build and design maps, organize data, or do analysis. You don’t need a full-time job to do GIS work. Small contracting or consulting jobs, even for a few hours, can be lucrative and give you a satisfied customer – who can be a reference in the future.
- Which GIS class(es) should I take?
Start with GIS 1220, Intro to Geospatial Sciences, and then GIS 2250, Geographic Information Systems. Then take the classes that best fit your career goals.
For example, if you’re planning to be a geologist, Remote Sensing is a great class for you.
- How many pages should my resume be?
If you ask five people for resume advice, you’ll get six opinions. Don’t stress about it. Include all of the relevant information for the job. Probably more than 1 and less than 3.
The best advice? Look at resumes online. Look at LOTS of resumes, and use the features that you think work the best.
- What should I include on my resume?
Include all of the relevant information that the job would need to make a decision. This can include:
- “Hard” skills, like your technical skills
- Soft skills – communications, writing, presentation, teamwork, leadership, project management
- Work experience that has given you skills. Don’t include a job if you can’t think of something that made it useful to your skillset.
- Volunteer experience that has given you skills.
- School experience that has given you skills.
- Projects that you’ve completed.
- What minor / Area of Interest should I take with my degree?
With GIS, you have two options for building your career path:
- OPTION A: Master of your domain with some GIS knowledge. Be an expert in your field (Geology, Wildlife Biology, Anthropology, etc), and add GIS to your skillset. This will place you above the other folks in your field without GIS.
- OPTION B: The GIS Master. Know GIS inside-and-out, and have strong technical skills – programming, databases, web development, and/or data science. This will give you the most flexibility with GIS.