Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

GIS students in class

GIS is a rapidly emerging field in technology. Green River offers a hands-on learning environment that prepares you to embark on this new and exciting career path. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is a database management system that handles large amounts of information in a digital map format. It organizes this information into computer databases, performs various data manipulations, and analyses and displays spatially referenced information both graphically and numerically.

GIS efficiently manages sophisticated databases by improving information management, resulting in better decision-making capabilities.

GIS technology is used by a wide variety of businesses and agencies. It has environmental applications, as well as planning, surveying, and mapping applications. It also applies to:

  • Election administration and redistricting
  • Infrastructure management
  • Oil, gas, and mineral exploration
  • Public health and safety
  • Real estate information
  • Research and Education
  • Transportation and logistics

Green River College offers two programs for GIS students to prepare for various careers in the field. Students may enroll in a two-year Associate in Applied Science degree program or in a one-year certificate program.

Areas of employment

  • Computer cartographer
  • Geographic database designer
  • Geographic data analyst
  • GIS analyst
  • GIS programmer
  • GIS technician

When can new students enroll?

Both of the GIS programs at Green River offer enrollment at the beginning of any quarter.


Complete an admissions application to Green River College, complete the COMPASS assessment, and meet with an advisor.

Basic PC skills, DOS and Windows operations knowledge, equivalent to Bus E 100 or 111, or instructor’s approval, are required for entry into the program.

How long does the program take?

It depends on you. If you attend Green River full- time, you can complete the Associate in Applied Science degree requirements in two years. The GIS certificate can be completed in three quarters. If you attend part-time, completion will depend on how many credits you earn each quarter.

Special fees

Courses requiring special equipment and software have modest fees.

What will contribute to success in the program?

The successful GIS technician enjoys working with detailed information and possesses computer, verbal, and technical writing skills.

Special Program Notes

Both GIS programs offered at Green River are also Worker Retraining programs if you meet the following criteria:

  • you have been terminated or have received a notice of termination from employment; or
  • you are currently eligible to draw unemployment benefits; or
  • you have exhausted your benefits within the past 24 months

Does the program transfer to four-year schools?

The Associate in Applied Science degree may be transferred to four-year institutions. However, credits earned in the GIS certificate program may apply only as electives towards a four-year degree. All transferability is at the discretion of the receiving institution.

Employment outlook

The future of the field is wide open. According to Vertek Job Analyzer GIS will experience a 90% growth from 1996–2006.

Salary range

Entry-level positions in GIS-related fields usually begin at annual salaries between $20,000 and $25,000 and exceed $60,000 for positions with skills developed through additional degree work and experience.