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Women working in GIS Women in GIS Associations
SD Mesa CalWomenTech FAQs

Career FAQs

Academic FAQs
Childcare FAQs

Financial Aid FAQs
Career FAQs

Occupational outlook. Are employers hiring for jobs in this area?
Yes! Tremendous opportunities for GIS technicians have surfaced in the Southern California area. Students who work hard and are motivated will have no problem finding employment into an entry level internship or technician position. Because the new technologies in GIS have such broad application, the labor market for workers trained in GIS is bustling. Most local governments, the military, and companies and consultants addressing environmental, transportation, water, and planning related issues collect and analyze data for GIS databases.

Technology background. Can I pursue a career in this field without a background in technology?
Yes, definitely. However, it does help to have a basic understanding of geography and map reading, which you can take as a course elective (GEOG 101) if you donít have these skills. Students should also have basic computer and desktop software skills.

If you need practice or want to get a head start you can also:

  • Check out the CalWomenTech Learning Library, which offers software tools to enhance spatial reasoning and math skills, which you can use at the Tutoring Appointment Center.
  • Visit the San Diego Mesa College Tutoring Appointment Center, which has software programs available on multiple computers for learning and practice purposes, including a software tutorial for the program used by students for map production (using the industry standard GIS software package from ESRI).

Accessibility for women. Isnít Geographic Information Systems a tough field for women to break into?
Many women have built highly successful careers in Geographic Information Systems. Female students who apply themselves and do well in school should have no problem finding employment, since this field is growing rapidly. The GIS program offers multiple opportunities for hands-on internship experiences with employers while you are in school through GIS Work-Field Experience classes (GISG 270). These on-site learning experiences sometimes result in employment offers and look great on your resume! There are also Women in GIS Associations.

Receptivity to hiring women. Will employers hire women into male-dominated technology areas?
Absolutely! Women are successfully employed as GIS professionals in government, academia, not-for-profit, and the private sector. Read more about women in GIS on our Womenís Success Stories page, or check out our Women in GIS Associations page to see how you can meet other successful women in this field.

Jobs available. What kinds of jobs can I get with a certificate and with an A.S. degree?
Graduates of the A.S. degree program in GIS can expect to qualify for entry level permanent positions as GIS interns (both paid and unpaid) and GIS technicians. To move beyond the GIS technician level, a bachelorís degree may be required eventually since this is a professional level job.

Graduates with GIS certificates can qualify for internship positions and may also qualify for a GIS technician role.

Salaries. What kind of salary can I expect?
You can expect a starting salary of $10 to $16 per hour, and the average wage at placement is $22,000 to $29.000 per year. Workers with experience in GIS earn an average salary of $35,000 to $49,000 per year. Further advancement in this field may require a bachelorís degree.

More information. Where can I learn more about technology careers and what theyíre like for women?
Read articles about women in GIS careers on the Home page of our website for starters, and check out our Women in GIS Associations and Women in Technology links for more information. You can also find a female mentor at E-Mentoring, join our e-mail list for women students at San Diego Mesa College, network with other women at a Women in Technology International meeting, and read our Womenís Success Stories about other women in this and related fields.

Academic FAQs

Math skills. How much math do I really need?
Each new student at SD Mesa College takes a placement tests to determine her level of math skill. In the orientation which follows the placement tests, youíll receive counseling and advice about the best math course to start out with. Some basic math skills courses are available online. GISG 104, the Geographic Information Science and Spatial Reasoning course does have a math prerequisite or advisory recommending the level of math required Ė consult with your course catalog for details and discuss this with your counselor.

If you would like to enhance your math skills, SD Mesa College offers a two-hour readiness workshop on spatial relationships (the ability to see things in three dimensions) which helps students with the math and spatial relationship skills required for the GIS program. Check with your counselor or the Tutoring Appointment Center for more information. San Diego Mesa College also offers math tutoring through the Math and Science Center.

Technology skills. How can I prepare for the program if I donít have a background in technology?
Some students select GEOG 101, Physical Geography as one of their early electives to build a basic understanding of geography and skills in map reading. Students should also have basic computer and desktop software skills. The SD Mesa College Tutoring Appointment Center has software programs available on multiple computers for learning and practice purposes, including a software tutorial for the program used by students for map production (using the industry standard GIS software package from ESRI, a company originally known as Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc.).

The CalWomenTech Learning Library offers tools to enhance spatial reasoning (your ability to see things in three dimensions) which is critical to GIS and math skills, which can then be used at the Tutoring Center. Instructors can also recommend online learning resources.

Once youíre enrolled in the program, there are also GIS Work-Field Experience classes (GISG 270) available which provide hands-on learning experiences through the course of your studies. You can also seek an internship through the Career Center for additional hands-on experience.

Course required. How can I find out what courses I need to take for the GIS program?
Visit the GIS program website for details about both the degree and certificate programs and the courses required. You can also view SD Mesa Collegeís course catalog for additional detail.

Placement tests. Are placement tests required for this program?
Yes. Students entering an associate degree or certificate program must take placement tests to determine their math and English level. Call (619) 388-2718 or visit the testing center at Room I425 (2nd Floor) to schedule your tests, or view complete details about placement testing on the SD Mesa College website, including a link to sample questions. Testing helps you and your counselor determine which math and English courses you are prepared to take.

Length of program. How long will it take to complete the GIS program?
The A.S. degree in GIS is a full-time, two-year program which requires 60 units of coursework. This includes general education requirements and courses required for the GIS major. Some students spread their coursework over a longer period due to family and work commitments.

The GIS certificate program is completed by most students in a year or less, depending on how the courses are scheduled.

High school preparation. Can I prepare myself for a technology program at San Diego Mesa College while Iím still in high school?
San Diego Mesa College has developed online GIS learning modules that students can take while in high school to learn more about GIS. Although your teacher must supply a password for the advanced modules, some areas of the GIS Career & Education Awareness website are accessible to the public. Visit the website to learn more about GIS, and ask your teacher or counselor if the program is available at your school. SD Mesa College offers certificates of completion to students who complete the modules.

SD Mesa College has also developed a fast track program with several high schools, which arranges for students to take courses at SD Mesa College while they are still in high school. Ask a teacher or the counseling department if your high school has a fast track program with SD Mesa College, or contact the GIS department or the Counseling Center at SD Mesa College for details.

Childcare FAQs

Child care. Where can I get child care assistance for when Iím at school or work?
San Diego Mesa College offers a state-funded pre-school program at its Child Development Center for children of SD Mesa College students from 24 months to five years of age. The program requires parents to participate in the program by enrolling in a child development course and becoming involved in classroom activities (although not their own childís class). Students report that this course and classroom experience helps them develop people skills that serve them well in their chosen fields.

It is important to register your child early to ensure placement; there are more openings in the fall semester because enrolled parents have priority to keep their slots throughout the school year. You will be asked to complete an enrollment packet, present your childís immunization record and birth certificate, and provide your monthly income verification and current class schedule. Low-income families receive first priority. Some children may also qualify for Head Start, a school readiness program.

For more information, call the Child Development Center at 619.388.2812, or pick up an application at the center.

Child Development Center
7250 Mesa College Drive
Building R (corner of Armstrong Drive and Mesa College Drive)
San Diego, CA 92111

Financial Aid FAQs

Finances. How can I get financial aid?
San Diego Mesa College has an excellent Financial Aid program, which provides information and guidance about a variety of grants, student loans, and federal work-study programs. The Financial Aid office also provides a variety of websites where students can explore additional financial aid options. Women students are also advised to explore outside scholarships specifically designated for women.

Students do not have to be enrolled in SD Mesa College to apply for financial aid. Since the application process sometimes takes weeks or months, students should apply for aid as soon as the applications are available. All financial aid applicants must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Obtain a copy from the Financial Aid office or fill it out online at the FAFSA website.

To explore financial aid services at SD Mesa College, visit or contact:

Financial Aid
Building I300, Room 100 (1st floor)
7250 Mesa College Drive
San Diego, CA 92111


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