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Transitioning to the world of GIS

Question asked by Chris_Scott on Apr 7, 2015
Latest reply on Sep 1, 2015 by pk_davidson

Does anyone have any experience of transitioning from a broad IT (analysis, design, project management) background to a specialist GIS role?


I anticipate the first question that will be asked is "What kind of GIS role" and that's a very valid question. My strengths and areas of interest are the application of GIS tools and techniques (problem solving) and GIS related technology. My vision at this stage would be to develop towards a GIS consultancy type position.


A bit about me... My background is predominantly in Finance (not the most orthodox start!) where I spent 10 year working in various operational, managerial and IT project based roles. My more recent step in my career saw me move from the world of banking to that of engineering, construction and nuclear power where I discovered my interest in GIS whilst taking a leading role on an ArcGIS implementation project. Since I started to understand spatial data and the power of GIS I have found myself absorbed in reams of training material, courses and hands on experience of using ArcGIS - this is typically a no-no in the world I come from where projects are delivered and then we move on to the next challenge.


The difficulty I am having is defining the path which will allow me to develop these skills and give me the exposure to spatial challenges - some questions I have in my head at the moment are: How do I make the sideways step? Do I need to retrain or take an apprenticeship? Is that do-able without making un-manageable sacrifices? How do I show the skills I have developed over the past 10 or so years are of benefit to an employer looking to recruit for a GIS type role?


For the purposes of this question let's assume that my current employer is not in a position to support my personal objectives. I will not openly name or pass comment about my current employer in this thread, so please do not ask.


What are your thoughts? I'm not the first person to try and make this transition, right?