7 Ways to improve your GIS skills in 2017

As 2017 approaches, you probably analyzing your 2016, noting your failures and successes and have decided to compile a check-list for the new year’s resolutions on matters Geo. That’s really good of you. In the beginning of 2016, I set out some measures to ensure I kept growing my skills in this industry and I have seen a tremendous growth in terms of skills related to the Geospatial realm. I will share some of the ways I have made this possible and I hope you will become a better GIS professional in 2017.

Take a GIS Course

The GIS sector is growing fast and technology is changing fast too.  As a professional, you need to be at pace with ‘things‘ in your area of specialization. You could take a refresher course on some of the areas you think you need help or some guidance on the changes with time. Today, there exist so many free courses on-line and also materials on the same to help you catch-up with areas of need. Sites such as Class Central and free GIS tutorials and applied learning materials are good examples of where one can start their courses.

Attend Workshop and Conferences

Workshops and conferences are great places to grow your skills in GIS as your experience real-life examples and interact with other professionals in the industry to grow ideas in your area. It’s in such workshops that I began my career in data science and machine learning. Conferences and Workshops help one realize the level of skills one has and meet other professionals that have really done great in such endeavors. They act as motivators to continue learning everyday.

Engage in a real GIS project

At times, we ought to think we know much of something until you decide to carry out a real-life scenario project. By ‘real-life scenario project‘, I mean one which you know affects the people directly or indirectly. Define a solution for such a problem and execute it. In this way, you will learn a lot in terms of GIS software, analysis, data management and so forth. Write project reports and proposals to familiarize yourself with the industry-standards for the sake of your professional stand.

Learn a new GIS Software

Professionals have their favourite Geospatial stacks they they are comfortable at and use these software day-in day-out. The good thing with this is that it allows faster execution of tasks by the professional as they understand these platforms fully. The bad thing is, they cannot tackle anything outside of this stack. Make it a habit to learn a new GIS software every six months or even every year. This increases your possibilities to tackle many problems related to different platforms. Another important thing about learning different software is that these software are not the same. They are different in terms of usage and processes. Be a diverse and open minded GIS professional.

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Make GIS a daily affair

You have plans and schedules everyday to ensure you are productive at work. This is very good. What about, plans for the free time in the evening or early in the morning? You know better! . Practice makes perfect, a phrase I believe everyone has come across, is very applicable at work and also in our houses. To become better users of systems or platforms, we have to practice as much as possible. Try out stuff, fail, try again, fail, fail, succeed. It’s only from trying that we are able to learn something good. If working with GIS becomes your hobby, I believe at the end of a month or two, you will be so much equipped with skills in this sector. Read journals, posts, try out software, try to code, train someone and so forth.

Join an online Geospatial forum

Interacting with other professionals makes you a better person as you get to learn new things with time. Find an online forum where people from different countries, towns or even companies interact and share ideas related to your field. You could checkout the Geospatial forums on  Quora, LinkedIn, Google+ and join to engage with its members. A community like GIS Q & A has grown over time and hosts very healthy discussions on matters GIS.

Learn Web mapping

Today, GIS is really changing fast and with the facilitation of other technologies such as Machine Learning, Data Science and Internet of Things(IoT), the world continues to be a smart-world. With this change, data and services are all moving to the cloud. Leveraging data in the cloud is vital for GIS projects as professionals ensure continuous development and maintenance of services for their clients. This is already evident with the SaaS architecture where products are slowly converting to services.


These are some of the ways that I personally, have used to improve by knowledge-base in GIS and have more positive impacts. Start today and become a great person that you always look upon.

Other ways that have proved helpful to you? share them here through comments and you will have helped a person reading this after you!!




Wanjohi Kibui
About Wanjohi Kibui 23 Articles
A GIS Developer, Consultant and Author.Passionate about Geospatial technologies. To read more about his work, visit http://www.lifeingis.com Access video Tutorials on YouTube
  • Anonymous

    Really great tips 4 the year ahead,, thanks a load

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  • Anonymous

    Really good tips.

  • Emily

    Good tips. I will try to follow them.