Geospatial science roles

Intelligence to create

Geospatial scientists can take on many different tasks and roles during their careers, depending on their qualifications and level of experience.

When you are just starting out in the industry – either while still undertaking study, or as a recent graduate – you will likely work as a geospatial operator or cartographic technician. Once qualified, you can move into a GIS officer role if you have completed a TAFE course, or a graduate geospatial analyst role if you have just completed university study.

Spatial coordinator

A spatial coordinator is concerned with the where – AKA, location-based data. They collect and dig through data that cross-references location with things like population, land use, environmental impact and more.

They perform the following tasks:

  • Produce paper and electronic maps using a variety of software
  • Take part in design and management of Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
  • Design interactive mapping products for computer systems and the web
  • Work with cartographic technicians and other production team members

GIS analyst

GIS analyst

Satellite imagery, aerial photos, sonar… the GIS analyst takes time out to pore over all of them.

GIS analysts offer technical support to wildlife management, urban planning and market research projects. They do this by making maps, develop software and so much more

They perform the following tasks:

  • Undertake complex computer functions such as 3D modelling to create visual representations of data
  • Use GIS software and processes to perform spatial analysis in order to produce data layers, map tables and reports
  • Prepare technical documents, reports and summaries using GIS applications
  • Carry out quality control on final data

GIS officer, graduate (GIS) and GIS assistant

If you are adept spatially and enjoy computers and problem solving, one of these roles could be suitable for you. GIS professionals develop and customise geographic information systems (GIS), which can then be used to address all manner of problems and queries.

They can do the following:

  • Map physical and manmade features
  • Take measurements and make observations from aerial photographs
  • Create complex models to assist councils, government and land professionals
  • Study the natural and urban environment
  • Store data in geographic information systems (GIS)

Geospatial engineer

It’s the job of geospatial engineers to look at the big picture. Drawing on the latest technology, geospatial engineers sift through huge volumes of geospatial data to measure up large-scale and highly dynamic geographic features.

Here are some of the tools at the geospatial engineer’s disposal:

  • Global navigation satellite positioning systems, including GPS
  • Airborne LiDAR
  • Terrestrial laser scanners
  • High-resolution mobile laser scanning
  • Robotic total stations
  • UAVs


If you are interested in a more researched-based area of spatial science, you could work towards because a geodesist.

Geodesists are the people who manage and maintain coordinate frameworks that map our world, often operating at national or state-wide levels. Their work tends to be completed following post-graduate study, in government agencies or universities.

Registered surveyor

A registered or licensed surveyor is the only person who is legally authorised to perform land or cadastral surveying and sign-off on projects. The surveyor collects data that forms the bedrock of the work a geospatial scientist undertakes.

Surveyors perform the following tasks:

  • Apply the laws & procedures relating to land ownership, boundaries and titles when undertaking surveying work
  • Accurately map out positions of boundaries where land is subdivided, bought or sold
  • Study the natural and urban environment
  • Plan and provide critical advice for project developments in land and buildings
  • Manage projects from planning approval through construction for land development in urban, rural and regional areas
  • Utilise cutting-edge technology such as GPS and laser technology to measure angles and distances on the land

Find out more about what surveying involves at A Life Without Limits, our sister website.

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