About the Position

SFEI is seeking a GIS Specialist to join the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) team. This position will be a full-time position (40 hrs per week), under the supervision of the GIS Manager. A successful candidate will be enthusiastic, self motivated, and passionate about applying technical GIS skills to address environmental problems. You will collaborate with your colleagues to ensure an optimal relationship between science and policy through innovative approaches to information collection, display, and analysis. Although a strong foundation of GIS skills is required, an environmental science background to enable effective landscape interpretation, change analysis, and mapping is ideal.

This is an opportunity to work creatively with other GIS professionals on exciting advanced technical challenges to address some of the most important environmental issues in California and beyond. Your immediate team will include the GIS Manager, Pete Kauhanen, and other GIS specialists, Alex Braud and Regan Murray. However, you will also often work with software engineers, environmental scientists, and experts from across the Institute.

GIS Focus Area Description

The GIS Focus Area is responsible for serving the Institute and external user community’s spatial information needs through collaborative and innovative projects. Its success has provided the Institute with a strong reputation of GIS excellence, regarding spatial dataset creation, spatial tools and analysis, and evocative cartography. The GIS Specialist will work with both technology and science teams to develop and implement GIS methods, tools, and web delivery applications to support local and statewide environmental management. GIS staff work closely with SFEI’s Clean Water program on aquatic contaminant distribution and analysis and the Resilient Landscapes program on wetlands mapping, landscape analyses, and resilience planning. GIS is one of five “focus areas'' of the Environmental Informatics Program which provides clients and partners with the most current technology tools available to meet their missions.

Role Responsibilities

Duties are likely to be diverse and will require an enthusiastic, team-oriented individual. Typical duties will include:

  • Use remote sensing, object based image analysis, and other advanced methodologies to further automate wetland mapping to support the Institute’s aquatic resource mapping initiative (https://www.sfei.org/cari)
  • Tool development—team-oriented code development of GIS-specific landscape analysis tools
  • Science-driven methods development—collaboration with SFEI and partner scientists to answer environmental management questions with GIS
  • Data acquisition—sleuthing out GIS datasets and/or GIS contacts from various agencies, counties, cities and special districts
  • Data management—organizing and maintaining GIS data in accordance with SFEI’s on-line data management protocols
  • Cartography—production of high-quality maps
  • Project management—tracking project progress and time management


We seek a candidate that can bring a strong technical GIS background and an inquisitive and creative approach to environmental problems and data creation. This candidate should have a minimum of 2 years of experience in a professional GIS setting and thus have the organizational and project management skills to work both with the larger GIS team and on specific tasks independently.

If you’re excited about this role, but your past experience doesn’t align perfectly with every qualification in the job description, we encourage you to apply anyway. You may be just the right candidate for this, or one of our other roles.

Required Skills

  • Minimum of 3 years experience with ESRI's ArcGIS Desktop / ArcGIS Pro, ArcGIS Online, ArcServer, spatial data manipulation and formats including Arcpy, data management, and analysis toolboxes
  • Strong technical capabilities in multiple GIS areas such as spatial analysis, data acquisition, management, display/visualization, spatial statistics, remote sensing, raster analysis, and image classification
  • Experience with automated mapping work flows including segmentation and machine learning or rule-based classification
  • Experience with GIS scripting/tool development with ArcPy, GDAL/OGR, PostGIS, R, QGIS, or Google Earth Engine programming language(s)
  • Experience or interest using GIS for natural resource management
  • Exceptional attention to detail and problem-solving skills
  • Motivation to gain and develop new technical skills
  • Ability to manage time effectively on multiple projects
  • Capability to works productively in a collaborative team setting
  • Ability to work independently and follow through with tasks under general guidance from supervising staff
  • Effective written and verbal communication skills—ability to communicate technical information to non-technical clients

Preferred Skills

  • Training and experience in the environmental sciences (e.g., coastal and wetland science, biology, geology, landscape architecture, and aquatic ecology)
  • Experience with automation of GIS workflows
  • Experience using Object Based Image Analysis (OBIA)
  • Experience with eCognition Software
  • Experience with and interest in keeping up with advancing and emerging technologies, e.g., object detection, machine learning, lidar, multispectral imagery, Unoccupied Aerial Systems (UAS)/drones, etc.
  • Experience with the complete project lifecycle from conceptualization through requirements definition, design, development, testing implementation, maintenance, and user training as it applies to GIS related technology
  • Experience in photo interpretation of wetlands, flood infrastructure, and/or vegetation

Benefit Highlights

    • Matching contributions to retirement plan (403b)
    • Medical Insurance: health, vision, dental
    • 12 paid holidays, plus vacation days starting at 3 weeks/year
    • Hybrid workplace

    Salary Range

      $69,000 - $78,000 (dependent on experience)

      About SFEI

      San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization which has a 30-year track record of providing robust and innovative science to decision-makers, policy-makers, practitioners, and community members to measurably improve the health and resiliency of Bay-Delta ecosystems. As a boundary organization, SFEI operates at the interface between science and policy, recognized nationally for our ability to build consensus to support effective environmental decision-making and policy. Our mission is to deliver visionary science that empowers people to revitalize nature in our communities. 

      SFEI employs an interdisciplinary staff of more than 70. Our operations and IT staff are the backbone of our organization and keep everything running smoothly. SFEI has three major programs: Clean Water, Environmental Informatics, and Resilient Landscapes. Our program staff represent numerous scientific and technological fields, including chemistry, modeling, ecology, wildlife biology, landscape planning, historical ecology, geomorphology, geospatial analysis, and web development. 

      For more information on our mission, values, programs, and staff, visit the San Francisco Estuary Institute website.

      Equal Opportunity & Affirmative Action Employer

      At SFEI, we celebrate the diversity of our staff and the places we serve, and recognize the value and strength of diversity. We are committed to growing together and creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace. In 2022, SFEI developed and adopted mission and vision statements for DEIJ within and beyond our organization. We also created an action plan which is currently underway. We strongly encourage applications from women-identified people, people of color, and people with other identities commonly under-represented in environmental science. We invite you to share what you like about your professional experience as well as about yourself personally. 

      San Francisco Estuary Institute is proud to be an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer. We are committed to providing employees with a work environment free of discrimination and harassment of any kind. All employment decisions are based on business needs, job requirements, and individual qualifications. Qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, including sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, physical or mental disability, family or parental status, protected Veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by applicable federal, state, or local law.

      Accommodations Statement

      If you are a qualified individual with a disability or a disabled veteran, you have the right to request an accommodation if you are unable or limited in your ability to use or access our website or application portal as a result of your disability. To request an accommodation, contact us at 510-746-7355 or admin@sfei.org.

      Please note that SFEI cannot sponsor an employment visa (e.g., H-1B) to fill this position.

      In the spirit of a fair hiring process, no phone calls please.