Geospatial Specialist Ngaio Papa Whenua

Geospatial specialists gather and analyse geographic and spatial (location-based) information and use specialist software to present it in user-friendly formats such as maps and 3D models.

Experienced geospatial specialists can apply for certification through the Surveying and Spatial Sciences Institute, though this is not compulsory. Anyone with an undergraduate degree and experience may apply.

Geospatial specialists may do some or all of the following:

  • capture, process and analyse information such as survey data and aerial and satellite imagery
  • use surveying technology like Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to define locations of features such as rivers, mountains or utility lines
  • use and develop specialist Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software to turn complex data into more user-friendly formats, like maps and 3D virtual plans/models
  • design data specifications (what data needs to be collected, how it should be collected, and how accurate it needs to be)
  • write and present reports on geospatial data analysis
  • convert paper maps into digital/electronic maps
  • manage projects.

Physical Requirements

Geospatial specialists need to have good eyesight (with or without corrective lenses). For some roles you also need to have normal colour vision.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for geospatial specialists includes:

  • surveying
  • computer modelling
  • computer programming.

Personal Qualities

Geospatial specialists need to be:

  • analytical and good at problem solving
  • good verbal and written communicators
  • detail-focused
  • able to work independently and as part of a team.


Depending on their role, geospatial specialists need to have knowledge of:

  • geospatial data analysis
  • specialist geographic information systems (GIS) software
  • computer modelling and database design
  • computer programming
  • geography and mathematics, including statistics.


Geospatial specialists:

  • usually work regular business hours
  • usually work in offices, but may do field trips to various locations to collect data.

Geospatial Specialists can earn around $47K-$65K per year.

Chances of getting a job as a Geospatial Specialist are good due to a shortage of people interested in this type of work.

Pay for geospatial specialists varies depending on experience, qualifications and what field they work in.

  • Graduate geospatial specialists or geospatial analysts usually start on about $47,000 to $65,000 a year.
  • Geospatial specialists with five or more years' experience usually earn $60,000 to $80,000.
  • Those with at least 10 years' experience, or who work in consultancy or managerial roles, can earn $70,000 to $120,000 or more.

Source: SIBA New Zealand, 2018.

Geospatial specialists may start out being employed as analysts before moving into managerial or consultancy roles.

Geospatial specialists usually focus on a particular aspect of the geospatial data process such as:

  • data specification and capture
  • data integration and analysis
  • map design
  • computer programming
  • database administration
  • project management
  • system administration.

Geospatial specialists can specialise in a number of roles including:

Geographic Information Systems Analyst
Geographic information systems analysts use geospatial technology to read and analyse geographical data, and produce maps and visual representations of that data. They may also develop GIS software.
Geospatial Analyst
Geospatial analysts collect, analyse and record geographic data, and produce information to help businesses and users get the most from their spatial systems.
Geospatial Data Specialist
Geospatial data specialists have database administrator and data modelling experience, as well as expertise in spatial data and extract, transform, load (ETL) processes.
Geospatial Developer
Geospatial developers have experience in general software development, and write applications that have a spatial or mapping element.
Geospatial Information Architect
Geospatial information architects have knowledge of geospatial analysis, data, development and integration, and may become an expert in one or more specific geospatial technologies.

Years Of Training

3 years of training required.

To become a geospatial specialist you need to have a Bachelor's degree in one of the following areas:

  • surveying
  • applied science
  • geography
  • digital technologies – computer science.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) papers may also be included as part of the degree.

Geospatial Specialist