You need to research your target job market carefully. GIS work tends to be within particular business sectors e.g. transport, natural resources or utilities, or often in the public sector e.g. planning or conservation, or the military. So if you have some specialist knowledge of the business as well as GIS skills, or other relevant skills like a geology degree in the oil industry, then you could find interesting opportunities. But salaries are not particularly high and public sector work is often much less well paid than private sector software development. A little GIS goes a long way in most organisations, who usually do not need more than a few GIS experts to meet their needs, so there are not huge numbers of jobs out there. Also, GIS is about much more than web maps, and you need to invest serious time and effort in developing the skills required to be a serious GIS professional. It's not just about knowing how to use tools like ESRI or gvSIG, you have to understand what they do, how they work, what the results mean and how to apply them intelligently to real-world problems. If it's a topic that really interests you, then great, but if you are mostly looking for a well-paid job, you would probably be better off training as a Java architect.
FWIW I did a MSc in GIS a few years ago, but I emerged from it right in the middle of the global financial crisis and nobody was hiring. I really enjoyed learning about GIS but I've never found any opportunity to use the skills at work, and now I'm working in a relatively low-paid public sector junior Java developer role but still earning more than many public sector GIS specialists.
If you want to find out a little more about basic GIS I think there are a couple of free introductory courses online at Coursera.
Everybody can be replaced. Knowing some GIS-specific APIs and products is an additional skill to have, not a career direction in itself. Learning something new is always worthwhile, IMO, particularly if you can do it on the company's time, and really want to work for them.
vijay jacob wrote:My target market is Switzerland.I thought it was niche skill.
Switzerland is a small country (around 8 million population) and from what I've seen, it is also is a small market for private sector GIS (I think a lot of the market is served by German companies), although there seems to be a fair amount of public sector work. But you would almost certainly need to speak German, especially if you want to work in a Swiss public sector organisation, and you would probably find that Swiss employers expect you to have specialist qualifications.
In terms of technology, many GIS specialists use ESRI tools, which are very powerful, very expensive and traditionally based on Microsoft technologies. Another significant player is MapInfo, which has also tended to be used in combination with Microsoft tools. This is partly because GIS specialists tend not to come from a software engineering background, but have simply learned eough programming to get their job done, so they are often more comfortable with more productive and user-friendly development tools than with a general-purpose 3GL like Java. A lot of GIS work involves ad hoc analysis and processing of large volumes of (often messy) data, so VB and .NET are popular tools, and Python is also widely used. More specialised, processing-intensive work (e.g. image processing) might be done using C++, while large volumes of vector data might also be processed inside a spatially enabled database e.g. Oracle or PostgreSQL. Java is used in GIS, and there are good open source libraries and tools, but a lot of mainstream commercial and public sector work is still dominated by the Microsoft stack. To be honest, Java would not be my first choice for a lot of specialised GIS work.
chris webster wrote:But you would almost certainly need to speak German
That's a good point. You can not expect to be able to get a job in Switzerland if you don't speak one of the local languages, unless the job description specifically mentions an English-language work environment.
especially if you want to work in a Swiss public sector organisation
Another good point. In that case you would probably be expected to get by in German and French.