Membership Salary and Satisfaction Survey Results Part 1 of 3

First of all thank you to everyone who responded to the Salary & Satisfaction Survey.  During this strange year it seemed as good a time as any to see where things stand with you our members.  We had 140 people respond to the survey in some way, shape, or form. In this the first of a three part series, I will release the overall summary of the data. The following two installments will focus on an attempt at some analysis of the data and answering questions and responding to comments.

Our first question asked for people indicate the job title that most closely matches theirs or to indicate specifically what that title is.  As you will see in a screenshot below the most popular position for the respondents was GIS Coordinator with 21 responses followed closely by GIS Specialist with 19.  (See Fig. A) This is perhaps to be expected.  Anecdotally I believe that this is a shift from when I entered the workforce around 20 years ago as offices have expanded and the amount of data created and maintained in a spatial format continues to increase.

(Fig. A) The most common positions among respondents were GIS related.

Our second question requested that people indicate their gross salary, generally in $5,000 increments.  If I am involved in this endeavor in the future I will suggest that we simply ask individuals to enter the actual amount or a close estimate. The main reason being that it would have been easier to analyze the results, which I will attempt to do in the next installment.  What we see here is most commonly our survey takers make between 50K and 55K (Fig. B). Interestingly though more people earn gross wages in the 60 thousands than in the 50 thousands of dollars.  This is due to a definite gap with fewer people earning between 55K and 60K than in the category below or many categories above. I learned during our Fall Virtual Meeting that pie charts should not have this many slices, so I apologize for this “colorful gross salary insect” chart, but I left this one as is to show the full range of salaries and their distribution.

(Fig. B) Distribution of reported salaries in gross.

Speaking of salary, our next question asked how satisfied people were with their earnings. When it came to people’s satisfaction nearly 9 in 10 of the responses were some level of satisfied.  Half of us who took the survey are Somewhat Satisfied.  (Fig. C) Interestingly the same amount of people who were Extremely Satisfied were found to be not at all Satisfied.

(Fig. C)

Some additional quick highlights and notes from the survey results are:

  • Overwhelmingly people have attained a Bachelor Degree level of education to achieve their current position.
  • Around 1 in 6 people have achieved the title of Geographic Information Systems Professional (GISP).
  • Over 4 out of 5 respondents currently work in the public sector.
  • The largest number of responses were from people who have been working in the industry for less than five years (33). This was nearly one quarter of respondents

This will not a surprise if you have looked around the room at an Annual Meeting lately.  We are very pale and mostly male.  About 92% self describe as White or Caucasian (Fig. D). This compares to 87% of the State of Wisconsin estimated to be so as of 2019 according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Quick Facts.  Also about 60% of us identify as Male (Fig. E), compared to half of Wisconsin’s population, according to the aforementioned US Census Bureau Quick Facts.

Overwhelmingly Pale Workforce
(Fig. D)
Majority Male Workforce
(Fig. E)

When comparing the sampling of our demographics to the state’s estimates there is some work to do in order to achieve balance with the natural distribution of people in the state. First off there is no reason to believe that people of color are not interested in their sense of place in the world and the lands they walk upon, let alone the statistics and data derived from it.  This is likely due to environment and opportunity.  Likewise non-males should be just as able to excel in this industry as males. The WLIA needs to promote our organization to people of color and all genders and create an environment that can effectively retain those individuals as members. I am not blaming anyone or assigning fault, but with this knowledge at hand we should change this by trying to be Geo-Mentors and make an effort to reach out to people of all colors and races as well as all genders.

“The WLIA needs to promote our organization to people of color and all genders and create an environment that can effectively retain those individuals as members.”

Speaking of gender, perhaps you noticed our question about gender identity included more options than Female and Male.  Regardless of how you feel about the politics of gender identity this question provides a benchmark of how we identify ourselves in 2020.  Of the 137 individuals who responded to this question. Just shy of 60% identify as Male and just shy of 36% identify as Female (Fig. E) One individual identified as Non-Binary/Non-Conforming and 5 individuals preferred not to answer.  I cannot refer to years past numbers to certify this, it is an opinion of the writer, but I believe that we have more female members now than we did 10 and 20 years ago.  What I can say upon review of our history, and perhaps say more importantly is: we have more female members in leadership positions than we have ever had before.  The election of 2020 for the first time had more females than males elected to the board of directors.  After a three year run of female Presidents in the late Aughts, we have only had one in the last decade, Emily Champagne.  However, our current President-Elect, Carmen Novak, broke that trend.  We currently have more women on the Board of Directors than ever before and they make up a majority for the first time ever.

Our next question asked if you were part of the LGBTQ+ Community.  Close to 5% of people responded that yes they are.  Around 90% responded that they are not, but of those about one out of three indicated that they consider themselves to be an ally to the LGBTQ+ Community. This question provides a benchmark moving forward.

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Photo by Pixabay on

Finally, the WLIA earned 84 out of 100, a solid B rating, but I will share that a single really low outlier really brought that number down.  Our Median and Mode were 90.  Also consider this isn’t grade school.  If we were a TV show or movie Rotten Tomatoes would consider us Certified Fresh!

I will dive into the salary reporting a bit deeper in the near future as I try to compare apples to apples and respond to your comments and questions.

A full summary of the survey results can be found here.

The WLIA used Survey Monkey for the questionnaire and to create the summary of the results.

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