I have now been rejected on 5 jobs asking for mappers on the pure basis that I am a programmer. I don't get interviews and when I ask I get response of "You are a programmer and we wanted a mapper with programming experience".

I have my basics, I can use ArcMap, configure ArcSDE, understand coordinate systems. I have experience writing ESRI add-in code in ArcMap and direct code accessing the server without ArcMap. I understand how the spatial type is implemented and know how to create a matching UDT in accordance to OGC. I am familiar with the basic spatial operations.

I know that I am missing some things (possibly a lot of things), but nobody wants to tell me what they are. So please tell me. Please assume some generality, I want to know what most programmers lack when compared to mappers, just listed my case to prove motive.

Note: Open source GIS is coming next.

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  • 1
    I can't offer much advice besides suggesting you assemble a portfolio to highlight the GIS experience you evidently do have. Incidentally, I am keenly interested to learn more about all these job opportunities for mappers with programming experience. :) – anoved Dec 20 '12 at 0:47
  • @anoved not sure what you mean, there is so much about the death of traditional GIS in favour of the 'GIS programmer' that this seems like crazy talk. See for example smathermather.wordpress.com/2012/10/27/…. – Stev_k Dec 20 '12 at 1:17
  • Suggest this be converted to community wiki as there is no right answer. – blah238 Dec 20 '12 at 2:15
  • @blah238 I didn't know where to put it. I knew it didn't have an answer so I put in on meta and it got moved here. – user13395 Dec 20 '12 at 2:20
  • 2
    Sounds like you need to sell yourself a little more and review your resume. I got hired into GIS out of a Computer Information Systems program and got paid to learn GIS on the job. I did an intro to GIS in my Resource Management program and that is all the GIS i had under my belt. Perhaps take an ESRI course on cartography and add it to your resume? There are lots of free online webinars with ESRI. Google Maps community has many free webinars as well. Download an open source software and learn it so you can add it to your resume. Sell yourself is the best advice i can give. – danagerous Dec 20 '12 at 16:45

Possibly one of the most important is an eye for Cartography. Mapmaking is part science, which it sounds like you've got pretty much down, and part art. Sometimes the hard things can be intangibles such as what colour ramp is suitable for a particular dataset and how to minimise clutter. You don't mention experience of these things. I'm not saying they are as hard as programming to learn, but they may take time and experience.

At the end of the days, maps are created and viewed by people, not computers, and perhaps it's this experience of simplifying complex data into a map fit for human consumption that you are lacking, as well as working with real life data.

  • 1
    As someone who has gone the other way in recent years (always been a cartographer, added coding chops), in general, this answer is correct, but not particularly specific. Read up a bit on the following technical terms (and use them correctly in interviews or your CV): graphic variables, geovisualization, thematic mapping, geographic vs projected coordinate systems, choropleth maps, dasymetric maps. Look around a bit on cartotalk.com, too, to get a feel for what the lingo & concerns are. And indeed, don't sell yourself short :) Good luck! – Paulo Raposo Jun 4 '16 at 7:46