TLDR: see bottom paragraph
Pretty typical situation here, I have a 2.1 degree in a subject I have little prospect or hope of being employed in. I have managed to find a decent job on an 18 month contract (longest contract to date) in a company with little or no relevance to my degree. I am now looking at doing a Masters in Geographic Information Systems and I am seeking guidance.
The course I am looking at is in Nottingham University and it looks like a solid course. I would probably end up blowing all my savings living there and paying fees for the year but it would be an adventure and I am confident I would be successful at the end of the day. I have been contacting people in the industry for the past week and they have all been exceptionally helpful but they have all confirmed that the job market is quite depressed in Ireland but were hopeful for the future.
With this in mind I was wondering if there was a way I could stay in the job I have and get some decent qualifications in GIS without having to take a year out to do a Masters. ESRI have an excellent training platform on their website for home learning.
So my question is: Is a Masters going to trump training qualifications when it comes to getting a job or would these qualifications be enough to put me in with a chance of finding a career in GIS in the future?
Any advice is much appreciated.
A few pieces of advice that may or may not be helpful:
1. I would recommend doing a geography programme with quantitative/GIS focus instead of GIS. GIS is purely a tool for analysis and you are susceptible to your skills becoming redundant by advances (e.g. new software) if you focus so heavily on the tool instead of the discipline.
2. I believe Sweden, particularly Lund have very good two year GIS, distance-English speaking MSc programmes. Check them out.
GIS is simply a tool for analysis. Geographical Information Science is a discipline and I would say if you're interested in it, do that. I recently just got accepted into the GI Science in the University of Edinburgh having declined Polar Studies in Cambridge which in some vein contains a lot of GIS. Dyl10's advice is good though, do what you want.
Edinburgh/Manchester/Leicester would all generally be seen as having a better Geosciences department than Nottingham just so you know. I also know a girl who did a MSc in Geographical Information Science in Nottingham and really hated it. Everyone in her class was from India/China/Africa except her and she found it extremely difficult to have any sort of social life. She spent all her spare time on her own basically. I'm not saying that the social scene is the reason to choose a university but 12 months without any friends is a very lonely existence.
DIT also used to do some sort of evening based GIS course as far as I know and Maynooth have an excellent GIS and Remote Sensing Masters that includes a work placement.
Thanks for the replies guys. At the moment I am veering away from doing the Masters. Still haven't heard back from the head of the course after 2 emails and opportunities in Dublin are better at the moment. I did a 5 month course in DIT last year and found it very good. The GIS part is straight forward enough but the Spatial databases course is a bit trickier. But hey, if I can pass it with no computer science background then most people should be able to as well.
I did hear about the course in Maynooth and that it had a good reputation. I had heard the fees were quite high though. For now it looks like I'll stay in Ireland and do some evening courses in Finance and a couple of other courses I've always wanted to do while keeping a 9-5 job. Damn it though I need an adventure of some sort, anywhere, been in Dublin too long already!
You're completely wrong about Maynooth. The course is part of the government skills scheme so fees are only €2000-€2500 per year, way cheaper than your regular Masters and in fact cheaper than my reg fees for undergrad.