Studying GIS

Are your studies getting you to the right place?
Add the location factor to your qualification!

Geospatial information, also known as location information, tells us where features and places are, how they relate to one another, and how they can change over time. It ranges from the physical features on, above or below the earth’s surface to information about property boundaries, traffic and people, weather, health issues and hazards.

Location information is being used increasingly by businesses and government to improve their analysis and decision making. By adding GIS papers to your tertiary qualification, you can open up a whole world of career opportunities.

Here’s what GIS Graduate from the University of Otago, Sam Williamson, advises about adding a GIS paper or two to your studies:

GIS gives you a different perspective to the domain you’re currently studying. Everything is located somewhere and can be studied with a geographic perspective, whether its physical or cultural.

It’s always amazing to see people’s eyes open when they see their data displayed on a map instead of a graph or a chart. It always leads to new questions like ‘Why are levels higher in this location?’ Then they can use GIS to answer those questions. I would certainly recommend a GIS component be considered for Physical Science students, but I would even recommend 1 or 2 introductory GIS papers for Business, Arts or even Health Science students.

Sam Williamson presenting to an audience, in front of a digital application

What is GIS?

Geographic Information Systems as they are traditionally known, are information systems that work with spatial data, be they spatial databases or location based services available on your mobile phone. They capture, store, manage, analyse and visualise spatial data in a software environment. GIS is sometimes also referred to as Geographic Information Science, the science that underlies Geographic Information Systems and their use.

Are there job opportunities?

Globally, there is a shortage of skilled GIS professionals.  There are good job opportunities for GIS graduates in New Zealand, with positions across the business sector, central and local government and iwi.

According to a report commissioned by Google (The Economic Impact of Geospatial Services), global geospatial services are growing rapidly and contributing to significant direct and indirect job creation.  A report by Grand View Research (Location Intelligence Market Size & Share Report), states that the global location intelligence market size was valued at USD 14.0 billion in 2021 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.6% from 2022 to 2030. The market for location intelligence is primarily driven by the increasing investments in the Internet of Things (Internet of Things Market Size, IoT Industry Report) and the growing penetration of smart devices and network services, as it enables smarter applications and better connectivity.

Where can I study GIS?

GIS papers are taught across New Zealand – from Whangārei to Invercargill.

View a full list of GIS courses, qualifications and lecturer/tutor contact details at New Zealand tertiary institutes: New Zealand tertiary GIS papers, programmes and contacts

For more ideas:

  • Download the brochure 'Are your studies getting you to the right place?'

Geospatial Education in Aotearoa New Zealand report

This report explores the geospatial education trends in New Zealand and compares tertiary geospatial courses against course titles and descriptions in 5 other countries.