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Can a GIS Technician eventually become the CEO of a large company?

GIS training industry today

Below is the training model for generic GIS training today (July 2016).




Many vendors will also offer a training service where they will:

  1. Come to you, and/or
  2. Build the course tailored to your needs.

I don’t have much data on bespoke training, but the cost per day will likely be higher than an off-the-shelf training course. Having said that, bespoke training might offer better value for money in the long term due to its targeted focus.

Whichever way you cut it though, training is a significant cost. Just because it is ‘free’ doesn’t mean it’s free in terms of time commitment, verification of accuracy and finding the most relevant resource. Obviously, generic training has a high value otherwise the 14 companies I looked at (though there are more) would not be doing it. Geographically, they have collectively ‘got it covered’. Especially when they will come to you.


Location of 14 GIS training courses for in the UK July 2016.

The End?


  • For some people there are no suitable training courses, but they have many years’ experience and keep abreast of changes in the industry by networking and attending conferences.
  • External training courses can just be too generic – nice new skills but never used and eventually forgotten.

There are, as I have already established, many training courses to bring you the skills to be a generic GIS user. It is up to you now to apply it to the business.

Let’s rethink training for careers that involve GIS

Where does GIS sit within your organisation?

  • In IT? This is where my first GIS job sat. Actually it had a good deal of visibility because I helped with IT issues as well my GIS role.
  • As its own business line, supporting itself? Anecdotally I see a GIS business line thriving in this model while others in the business using GIS as part of their job activities are not getting the support they might need.
  • Within a business unit? This is how silos occur, and are hard to avoid. This model might mean only one GIS employee and the business unit driving that employee’s work. This model means resources are not shared.


I think where GIS sits in your organisation has a large impact on what training is required. What if a course/courses could talk about techniques to improve visibility, technology (not just GIS), make business improvements, build exceptional careers and provide people with ever increasing skills? Wow, that would be some course!

There are many courses that comfortably cover advances in technology and the development of core skills. There are also courses that are aimed at business sectors. It’s a tough job for a supplier to run these – data confidentiality issues and non-disclosure agreements are big hurdles.


So how could this course be developed? Mainly, I think at least, with great governance. Establish policies, procedures, stakeholders, return on investment. Use these to establish a GIS steering document, even better a steering committee devoted to GIS.

An ESRI Whitepaper makes a good point we are not always prepared to admit “GIS staff members are placed in the position of having to “sell” their larger organization on the benefits of GIS and point out the opportunities for exploitation of this technology. However, GIS staff members may not be the best advocates for their own services.”

I would go further to say GIS staff members may not be best placed to define their training needs. It is with a steering document that evolves with the business that the foundations of exceptional training can be built. There is an impasse lurking around the corner, people with great GIS skills not knowing how to improve themselves further. If this happens nobody wins.

So, can a GIS Technician eventually become the CEO of a large company?

Contact me, I am happy to discuss and help your organisation create an exceptional training plan.

Want to learn more about GIS and EO for Oil and Gas? Then my page contains all my blogs, plus case studies and links

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