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2014
What are the five most important skills that a successful professional in GIS should have? I have recorded a three-part video series (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3) wherein I address this important issue.

I begin the video series by presenting two ways of thinking about GIS in your career:  (1) As a toolset that you use in your career as a biologist, public safety officer, marketing analyst, or in another career where GIS is listed only as a required or advised set of skills;  and (2) As a GIS manager, technician, analyst, or another career where GIS or a variant is a part of the title and primary job duties.

I see GIS as a three-legged stool, one that incorporates content knowledge, skills, and the geographic perspective.  In other words, the skills alone will not guarantee success, but are a fundamental part of it.  Equally important is the content knowledge--whether in GIScience, meteorology, energy, water resources, planning, or another field.  Finally, don't be discouraged by my mention of the geographic perspective if you feel inadequate here.  It is one of the most interesting parts of the stool, and one that might take years to develop.  Indeed, as most things in GIS, it is a lifelong endeavor, which leads me to my #1 top skill:  I can't give it away:  Watch the video to find out!
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The Top 5 Skills you need for a successful career in GIS.



I realize that many "Top" lists are subjective, mine included.  Yet I purposely used this format for this list precisely so that the can be debated, argued, and modified.  I invite you to do so by posting your reflections and comments.
Most everyone I know in the geospatial field feels passionate about their work, and many seek ways to spread awareness about GIS beyond the geospatial community.  So it was with enthusiasm that I agreed to participate recently with the organizers of the History Colorado museum's "COmingle" event.  With the "CO" referring to Colorado, and the "mingle" referring to its after-hours "fun evening with friends or a date" focus, COmingle is an "offbeat mix of games, trivia, demonstrations, exhibit adventures, performances, and hands-on activities", with food and "a whole lot of Colorado spirit." The activity I decided to host there was "Geography Quiz Night", because I had the perfect venue on which to do it--a giant basketball court-sized terrazzo map of the state of Colorado.  I dubbed it "G Harmony," or "Geography harmony." I wanted the quiz to be active, so for each of the 10 questions in each quiz, I asked the participants to stand on the location of the state to indicate what they thought was the correct answer.  I handed out prizes to the individuals or teams with the most correct, least correct, or more creative answers so everyone could win a prize.  The prizes were a combination of books, gift cards, and posters from me (Esri) and the History Colorado museum.
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Joseph Kerski, center, walking "toward Colorado Springs", conducting Colorado quiz on map of the state.



I conducted two quizzes during the evening, and my questions included, "Which county has the largest agricultural output?", "Where is the lowest point in the state?", "Where was the coldest temperature ever recorded in the state?", "What tiny town saw its high school boys basketball team beat all odds to become state champions in 1929 and 1930?", "Where is the 3rd largest city in Colorado?, and "Where is State Highway 1?" As I was giving the questions, I talked about mapping and GIS.  Challenge yourself with the complete list of my questions here. I had announced this event to the Colorado GIS community and education community, and so it proved to be a nice relaxed setting to meet new colleagues, in addition to others from outside geography and GIS, including innovative programmers from Oh Heck Yeah! who created a kinesthetic computer game people played there. What might you do to reach out and bring your community together to spread geography and GIS in innovative and fun ways?

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