Staff roles, development, and training

Workforce development is the investment in an organization’s most valuable assets—its people—so they have the knowledge and skills required to deliver significant business value.

Through workforce development, GIS teams can acquire the knowledge and skills they need to sustainably deliver high-value solutions, so they can support key business workflows and empower decision-making. But when skills and knowledge aren’t developed within GIS teams, organizations are unable to fully leverage their investment in ArcGIS. Under-developed staff are not aware of technology advancements or contemporary workflows, or they lack the skills required to take advantage of them. As a result, these organizations often rely on more expensive external resources, and staff unable to direct, manage, and monitor consultant work. Esri offers a multitude of resources to equip your staff with skills needed to achieve your organization’s strategic goals.

Assess whether you have access to staff or external resources that have the skills needed to implement, administer, or use the technical that supports (or that will support) business or mission-critical workflows. This topic also includes resources that help to understand common GIS roles on successful GIS teams and the kinds of skills that are generally required for those roles.  Build a training plan for each GIS role in your organization to develop appropriate expertise.

Esri has multiple workforce development options to develop staff skill sets and knowledge around specific products, broader capabilities, and specific real-world business problems and workflows.

  • Unlimited E-Learning for all customers with current maintenance subscription, including unlimited access to Esri’s substantial e-Learning collection.
  • Instructor-Led Training – courses taught by expert Esri instructors. Classes emphasize best practices, discussion, activities, and hands-on exercises.
  • Web Courses – interactive, self-paced courses on focused topics. Activities and hands-on software exercises are included.
  • MOOCs (Massive Open Online Classes) – NO-cost, massive open online courses feature video lectures, hands-on exercises, and access to Esri software.
  • Training Seminars- Technical presentations delivered by Esri experts. Get tips and watch real-world software demonstrations.
  • Learning Plans that have been created by curriculum experts at Esri and by the GIS community. Learning plans empower GIS staff to master a focused ArcGIS topic at their own pace.
  • Esri Technical Certification Program – establishes credibility for individuals who are proficient in best practices for using ArcGIS. Certifications are offered at four levels: foundation, associate, professional, and specialty

Staff roles

Building a successful GIS program is crucial for organizations to leverage the full potential of their investment. To design, sustain and grow this enterprise system, GIS-focused roles and responsibilities must be defined and stay current with the evolving GIS technology to ensure a secure optimally configured environment is maintained and available to end users.

Outlining what GIS focused roles and responsibilities are and how they can effectively coordinate and collaborate with their organization’s IT department roles and responsibilities is essential for supporting the technical environment GIS systems need to function. There are many ways GIS roles and responsibilities have been structured within a given organization. Some organizations have a centralized model within IT, some are hybrid with department roles reporting back to the main GIS division and others are decentralized management of GIS technology. The following outline is to share best practices for what GIS roles and responsibilities are and how they can work effectively both within and alongside their IT department.

A few of the most common roles in a GIS division or program are listed here, know that these are roles, not necessarily job titles. However structured, each role is important to successfully integrate GIS as an essential enterprise system and should be adequately equipped and resourced.

GIS Manager

The GIS Manager is essential to providing the direction of the use of GIS and to ensuring the daily operations of the GIS team meet the needs of the organization. GIS Managers typically have years of experience as a GIS Analyst or related position, with a deep understanding of geospatial technology. GIS Managers often are called on to develop the long-term strategy of how GIS can deliver adoptable, substantiable solutions across the organization. This role may not be directly involved with technical responsibilities for larger organizations. Instead, they will focus on the financial and project management duties. In smaller organizations, the GIS Manager may be much more involved with defining the procedure and standards of GIS-based solutions. In either case, it is the GIS Manager that the organization depends on to develop the successful GIS team.

Related Job Titles: Geospatial Technical Director, GIS Coordinator


  • Sets strategic roadmap based on department priorities and IT strategic objectives.
  • Main point of contact for other IT Divisions such as Network, Server, or Security
  • Main point of contact for other organization departments if centralized or as a hybrid organization structure, such as Planning, Public Works, or Emergency Management
  • Define a clear vision for enterprise GIS deployment and usage to support organizational goals
  • Connect with business line managers to understand their needs
  • Plan the overall structure of GIS solutions within the organization
  • Manage the GIS projects, staff, and budget of the GIS team
  • Supervise production staff such as GIS “Business Analysts” (GIS Analysts, GIS Specialists, Business Intelligence Analysts) who support the enterprise GIS deployment and end users
  • Facilitate the organization’s use of geospatial technology and system integrations
  • Manage contracts and performance of GIS-related service providers
  • Oversees GIS Governance for the entire organization
  • Ensures public engagement with GIS solutions is in alignment with agency public information and accessibility policies and standards

GIS Technician or Cartographer

This role specializes in visualizing data as meaningful information, enabling others to do their work better and gain insight through intuitive representations of organizational and external data.

Related Job Titles: GIS Analyst, GIS Technician, GIS Specialist


  • Research and define modern cartographic skills and standards
  • Create visual representations of data (map production)
  • Compiles data from a variety of sources to create mapping products
  • Prepare web maps to be incorporated in desktop, web, and mobile applications
  • Design, prepare, and revise maps, charts, plans, three-dimensional models

Enterprise GIS Administrator

This role administrates ArcGIS Enterprise components and related IT resources to ensure the efficient, performant, and secure delivery of the organization’s geospatial solutions. The responsibilities of this role may vary greatly based on the size of the organization and the depth of IT resources supporting the enterprise GIS. Smaller organizations might depend on this role to configure and troubleshoot IT issues related to the performance of ArcGIS Enterprise. In larger organizations, this role could coordinate with IT staff to maintain and resolve enterprise GIS issues.

Related Job Titles: GIS Analyst, GIS Technician, GIS Specialist*


  • Secure the ArcGIS Enterprise content by following best practices to maintain the integrity and protect confidentiality of the information hosted by the system
  • Manage ArcGIS Enterprise users by assigning appropriate roles to users, manage and allocate application licenses, and monitor member activity
  • Monitor the ArcGIS Enterprise deployment through monitoring system logs and reviewing server usage statistics and activities
  • Ensure the integrity of ArcGIS Enterprise system by maintaining backups of each component

GIS Analyst

The title of GIS Analyst typically encompasses several geospatial roles, ranging from cartographer to application development to enterprise GIS administrator. However, the core role of the analyst is to understand and analyze data using GIS technology and discover patterns and trends through spatial data. This role is expected to have a strong command of modern geospatial tools required to process and gain insight from this data.

Related Job Titles: GIS Specialist, GIS Technician, Cartographer


  • Conduct use-case analysis of business functions to establish GIS application requirements and geospatial data model requirements
  • Identify and define appropriate applications of the system and associated GIS products
  • Plan and design the analytic procedures and methodologies for performing the applications
  • Prepare initial work and cost estimates for GIS development activities
  • Work with the GIS manager to develop the annual work program
  • Conduct in-house training and tracking progress on system implementation and application projects
  • Plan and communicate specific work tasks for database creation and management, application development, and ongoing maintenance
  • Troubleshoot performance and accuracy issues with spatial data and applications
  • Integrate various information sources through geo-rectify maps, charts, and other forms of information
  • Export data in multiple formats
  • Generate reports for various stakeholders
  • Work closely with end users to identify GIS requirements, technical issues, and training needs
  • Analyze current business processes and record best-practice solutions
  • Review current data and GIS processing techniques and update as needed
  • Troubleshoot and resolve GIS application problems
  • Communicate with internal and external technical resources to resolve end-user issue
  • Provide guidance to end users on methods to resolve problems or address GIS related issues
  • Identifying and defining appropriate applications of the system and associated GIS products
  • Planning and designing the analytic procedures and methodologies for performing the applications
  • Preparing initial work and cost estimates for GIS development activities
  • Author and publish information layers with intuitive fields, scale dependencies, symbology

GIS Editor

This role is responsible for creating, maintaining, and correcting the organization’s spatial data using GIS tools.

Related Job Titles: GIS Specialist, GIS Technician, GIS Data Editor


  • Maintain the data integrity and accuracy of the organization’s spatial information
  • Conduct the activities necessary to maintain network schematic data, schematics, and maps
  • Edit, analyze, and perform QA/QC tasks utilizing GIS software
  • Record detailed change notes and metadata

Application Developer

This role would develop and maintain intuitive, fit-for-purpose geospatial based applications to enable end users to accomplish their work better through applying location intelligence. The level of experience and skills can vary greatly based on the organization’s needs. Applications can be created through no-code tools to configure ArcGIS surveys, author dashboards, create web and mobile applications as well as through highly customized applications using higher level programming languages such as JavaScript, C++, etc. to automating routine tasks or workflows.

Related Job Titles: Geospatial Solutions Developer, Computer Programmer, Software Engineer, Software Developer, GIS Developer


  • Configure and extend ArcGIS capabilities to meet the needs of the organization
  • Create custom GIS based solutions when the capabilities of ArcGIS do not meet all the requirements
  • Integrate location services hosted in ArcGIS or your enterprise with enterprise systems
  • Build apps with web, native, scripting, and open-source APIs
  • Create web mapping applications and interactive maps for the web