Careers

HS2 GIS Technician

What is HS2?

HS2 is a proposed new high speed railway network, connecting London to Birmingham, and then on to other major cities in the North, including Leeds and Manchester. The trains will travel at up to 225mph, and when it’s finished, the railway will span around 330 miles of track.

What is an HS2 GIS Technician?

GIS stands for 'Geographic Information System'. It involves getting information about geography and the environment, and displaying it through GIS mapping. GIS mapping is a technology that lets you show lots of different kinds of information about an area on a map. For example, you can show what kind of soil an area has, or where things like schools, farms or streams are.

At HS2, a GIS Technician uses GIS mapping to help answer complex questions about the new high speed railway. For example, by using GIS they can analyse the railway design against environmental features to better understand the environmental impact on things like biodiversity, heritage, waterways and what local people will see and hear when the railway is finished. They can discover any risks that the project might create for the environment or the biodiversity in the area (like birds and animals). GIS Technicians look for these risks by creating maps and models of the area where the railway will be, showing the possible environmental risks of the new railway. HS2 can then work out what the best steps would be to protect the environment before starting construction.

So tell me more about how to be an HS2 GIS Technician

There are lots of ways to become a GIS professional , as there are no specific qualifications you have to take to get into this field of work – much of it is learned on the job. However, it’s useful to study the sciences, geography and ICT subjects at school or college, as these are the foundations of GIS work.

A lot of geography-based university degrees teach GIS as a key learning module, so you can get a taster of this area before specialising or undertaking a master’s degree in GIS.

If you are interested in this area of work, it could be beneficial to talk to someone who currently works in GIS, for example through a day’s work shadowing. This will help you learn much more about GIS roles and whether it is right for you. Do some research online or ask advice from your school’s careers advisor as to which companies to get in touch with.

Becoming an HS2 GIS Technician: What does it take?

The job is an exciting blend of civil engineering and geography, with the goal of supporting the HS2 project on things like the environment and getting the project approved in parliament. GIS has been called ‘the 21st century version of cartography’, and it’s an exciting time to get involved as the industry is booming. What's more, you can get straight into a GIS career as a graduate.

To become an HS2 GIS professional , you have to be analytical. You’ve got to be able to understand what the data you find is telling you: what are the trends? Are there any patterns? Is there anything weird or unusual that shouldn’t be overlooked?

You also need to be methodical. Your work will be used by lots of people to help make important decisions about the railway and the environment, so you need to make sure your work is accurate.

Learning and development courses and training to build your career

Most of what you will be doing is learnt in the job, so it’s not hugely important to take specific training courses. However, to get into the area, it is useful to do a geography, science or engineering degree course at university. Courses that have GIS as part of the course content are a good way to start getting skills and knowledge in this area. Employers will want you to have a basic ability with GIS when recruiting you as a graduate. There are also Master’s courses in GIS, which can be a good way to show employers your interest and expertise in the area.

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