How to Learn GIS Online in [2024] Best Books & Courses

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Before I go any further and tell you how to learn GIS online, I will try to quickly explain what GIS is and why you should learn it?

Geographic Information System (GIS) is a system build to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage and present all kinds of spatial or geographical data so that people can understand data more accurately to create a better system and make a better decision.

Over the years GIS has changed and evolves as the technologies grows and we could see some other advancement in the near future.

GIS Analyst/ Professionals are high in demand. Therefore it’s a great time to learn this Geographic Information System mapping technology. Now the question is how to learn GIS online.

To learn GIS plenty of online resources out there which helps you to do the same. But sometimes it might get confusing to see various courses and tutorials which one to follow that’s why here we will guide you to the best online GIS resources and courses that you can follow to learn GIS and save plethora amount of time.

In this very article, I will shed some light upon these topics besides “How to learn GIS Online” which I think important to know.

  • Is GIS really difficult to learn?
  • Which GIS software I Should Learn?
  • Is it really necessary to learn Python or any programming language before learning GIS?
  • Best books to learn GIS

Which GIS Software I should Learn First?

There are many GIS Software present in the market it’s difficult to learn them all. Some of the popular GIS Software I would like to name are ArcGIS, QGIS, Global Mapper, GRASS GIS, SuperGIS, SAGA GIS, JUMP GIS, MapInfo,… and many more.

So people generally asked which GIS software does the Industry mostly used.

ArcGIS and QGIS are the most used GIS Software in the industry.

The answer is you should go either for ArcGIS or QGIS. Or you can learn both one by one. Mostly GIS Analyst Experts know how to use both of GIS Software. Both are amazing software to use for spatial or geographical data.


How to Learn GIS Online?

Like I said earlier there are many resources available online to learn GIS but it’s difficult to find the best one so here I listed the best online courses to learn GIS after spending some times on world wide web.

Why these GIS online courses are best?

I am not just saying, I have data to back up what I say. These are the few reasons why I think the courses I listed here are the Best Online Courses to Learn GIS

[Reason 1] The Instructors in these courses are well experienced in GIS and have been taught hundreds and thousands of students. They are industry experts.

[Reason 2] Most of the students are satisfied with the courses; you can check all the student reviews at the feedback and review section.

[Reason 3] The best thing is all the courses are Risk-Free, i.e., if any point of time you think the course you have joined is not good and do not fulfill the expectation, there is no need to worry, you could get your money back without any question ask.

3 Best Online Courses You Should Join to Learn GIS

These courses are suitable for beginners, intermediate learners as well as experts.

[1] Fundamentals of GIS by University of California (Coursera)

Explore the world of spatial analysis and cartography with geographic information systems (GIS). In this GIS online course you will learn the basics of the industry’s leading software tool ArcGIS, during four week-long modules.

Duration: 20 Hours, Self-Paced

Number of Students enrolled for the Course: 124,000+ (Read Student Reviews)

Money Back Guarantee: No! They will give you 7-Days Free Trial. Start Your Free Trial Now

Our Rating : 4.8 out of 5

You can Sign up Here


[2] Learn geographic information systems (GIS) with QGIS (Udemy)

In this course, you will learn how to use Quantum GIS (better known as QGIS) to perform GIS tasks to solve spatial problems. Engage with real-world projects to use QGIS for solving vector, raster, and database problems. And for those who wants to know how to present cartographically aesthetic map products, this is the course you should go for. Take this Course Now

Duration: 2.5 Hours, Self-Paced

Number of Students enrolled for the Course: 1600+ (Read Student Reviews)

Money Back Guarantee: Yes, within 30 days of purchase

Our Rating : 4.6 out of 5

You can Sign up Here


[3] ArcGIS Desktop For Spatial Analysis: Go From Basic To Pro (Udemy)

This course will take you through some theoretical concepts related to Spatial Data Analysis, and then you will learn how to implement some of the most common GIS techniques (all the way showing you how to execute these tasks in ArcGIS Desktop).

The stuff you’ll learn from this course will be extremely useful in terms of you being able to implement it on future Spatial Data projects you’ll be working on.

It’s a step by step course covering both the THEORY & APPLICATION of Spatial Data Analysis. Take this Course Now!

Duration: 5 Hours, Self-Paced

Number of Students enrolled for the Course: 5400+ (Read Student Reviews)

Money Back Guarantee: Yes, within 30 days of purchase

Our Rating : 4.5 out of 5

You can Sign up Here

After successful completion of these online GIS courses, you will get a certificate that states you have knowledge of GIS and you are capable of analyze, manage, manipulate and present all kinds of spatial or geographical data.


Is GIS Really Difficult to Learn?

Anything would be easy if you are happy with the thing you are doing.

GIS is a vast subject which starts with the basic concepts of Geography that is taught in Junior High School level to complex and advanced concepts involving algorithms, image processing, Spatial Models etc.

If all you want to do is load a map into a GIS computer program and look at it, even a week is enough to learn how to find the right program and operate it.

However, if you really want to learn advance GIS concepts to solve the complex problem and perform data analysis it will take some time and you will face some difficulty. So it all depends with what you want to learn in GIS.

Take this Udemy Course if you want to learn how to solve complex and real world GIS problem: ArcGIS Desktop For Spatial Analysis: Go From Basic To Pro (Udemy)

Like in any other field, you have to solve some real world problem to really understand and use GIS with confidence.

GIS is more application oriented subject, so the more you work on GIS, better you will be in GIS with time.


Is it Really Necessary to Learn Python Before Learning GIS?

The answer is ‘No’ you don’t need any prior knowledge of Python before learning GIS. However, later on you have to learn it to automate the process. As a human being you can’t handle multiple files with multiple data sets on regular basis and Python is just perfect for that.

Lots of GIS analyst use computer programming (Python) to do their work more effectively

Using Python scripts you can automate the work flow and create our own tools to process the data.

If someone is planning to dive into GIS then definitely a little knowledge about Python give an edge. But it is not necessary to learn Python before learning GIS at the start.

If you want to learn Python to automate the work flow to easy your burden then you should Sign Up for this Coursera Course:

Programming for Everybody (Getting Started with Python) Offered by University of Michigan


Best Books to Learn GIS & Python

  1. The Beginners Guide to GIS (Free ebook) Click Here to Read
  2. GIS For Dummies by Michael N. DeMers
  3. A to Z GIS: An Illustrated Dictionary of Geographic Information Systems by Tasha Wade, Shelly Sommer
  4. GIS Tutorial 1: Basic Workbook by Wilpen L. Gorr & Kristen S. Kurland
  5. Learning Python by Mark Lutz

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