Become a Map Nerd

This Map Nerd began learning about maps and spatial data in college, though the majority of my skills are self taught.

That’s why it’s really important to Map Nerd Consulting that our passion about maps and GIS can easily become YOUR passion as well!

This page is a collection of classes, courses, resources, and networking groups that are great for someone who:

  • is interested in learning more about what GIS is
  • wants to make maps but doesn’t want to spend multiple years in school learning how
  • wants to keep up on GIS technology, platforms, softwares, visuals, or other spatial aspects
  • just loves GIS!

Most of these resources are free or open source (and all you need is an internet connection and an email account). Some resources may require a one time cost, a subscription, or additional payments, but our goal is to share free or low cost resources!

NASA’s Applied Remote Sensing Training Program (ARSET)

NASA’s ARSET provides free, online, self-paced classes for anyone interested in learning about remote sensing and different analysis tools. These classes not only teach you how to use different platforms or softwares, but also go into detail on how each of them has been or can be applied to solve real-world problems.

The online classes/webinars can range from one to five weeks, are typically available in English, Spanish, and/or French; and you can receive a certificate of completion (great for the resume)!

Once a training is completed, the recordings are made available on YouTube.


QGIS is a free and open-source GIS software. It offers GIS functionality, with a variety of mapping features, and data analysis and editing (essentially a free version of ArcGIS).

Resources for using QGIS include: QGIS User Guide and plenty of YouTube tutorials

ESRI Academy

ESRI Academy provides a multitude of courses and information on how to use their products. You can check out all the courses they offer at their course catalog and filter to see which ones are offered free.

ESRI Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are great because you receive a free temporary ArcGIS Pro license to use for the duration of the course.

Recommended courses: ArcGIS Fundamentals, Cartography, Advanced Map Labeling, Spatial Data Science

Google Earth Engine

Google Earth Engine (GEE) is an online GIS platform that can be used to map, analyze, or process data small and large. GEE also contains a catalog of compiled satellite imagery and geospatial datasets from places like NASA, USGS, and NOAA.

GEE is free for personal, academic, and research use, and you are given free space on the cloud for you projects!

GEE resources include: Guides, Community

R and RStudio

R is a great starter language if you want to start to learn to code. R is useful for making maps and processing spatial data, but also for data management, data exploration, creating visuals, and so much more! It’s free, open-source, and there are so many resources online to learn how to use it.

R resources: Documentation, STHDA, Bookdown, Rpubs, R-bloggers


Python is another great starter language if you want to start to learn to code. Similar to R, Python can be sued to make maps, perform spatial analyses, and is compatible with ESRI software and Google Earth Engine. You may have heard the time old question: ‘which coding language is better?’ or ‘should I learn python or R to do my project?’. This article compares the functionality and user experience of R and Python – and honestly, they’re both great languages!

Python resources: Python for Beginners, Intro to Python Programming

LinkedIn Learning

LinkedIn Learning is a great place to find videos on how to code (R, python, PostgreSQL, Javascript, etc), how to build a website, how to become a better leader, and so much more! These videos are created by people who have been there and done that, and you can comment and ask questions directly to the creators.

If you don’t have LinkedIn Premium or don’t want to pay, check your local or county library to see if they offer free access through your library card!

Recommended courses: Building a Small Business Website with WordPress, SQL Essential Training, HTML Essential Training


StackOverflow is a map nerd’s best friend and life saver. StackOverflow is a question and answer forum that anyone can use! It was created to be a more open alternative to earlier question and answer websites such as Experts-Exchange.

Trying to figure out how to combine two data layers in ArcGIS Pro? Have you been staring at the same line of code for hours and can’t figure out why you’re getting an error message? Want to know how to use conditional formatting in Excel/Sheets? StackOverflow is your answer. Literally.

You can ask questions and also answer them!

Web Apps

Web Applications or Web Apps are interactive tools that are a lot easier to create than many think. Need to create a custom survey form? Make a web app. Want to display spatial data using a unique interactive platform? Make a web app.

There are a lot of existing resources that help you create a web app. But a few we recommend are: ESRI Web Apps, R Shiny, Leaflet Javascript


Canva is a free design platform used to create social media graphics, presentations, posters, charts, and lots of other visual content. I love this platform because of all the free and customizable templates available and there are lots of digital graphics, videos, and photos for you to use. There is also a free phone app so you can design on the go!

P.S. we designed our logo using Canva!

Society for Conservation GIS (SCGIS)

The Society for Conservation GIS (SCGIS) is an all-volunteer, U.S. based 501(c)3 non-profit organization. We are an organization committed to advancing conservation GIS globally by building and supporting a vibrant community of conservation GIS practitioners.

SCGIS is a great place to build your network and share your ideas with the global community of GIS and conservationists.

Women in Geospatial +

Women in Geospatial + creates a community for womxn who are interested in the geospatial industry. This networking group provides lots of venues for building connections with others; multiple events throughout the year to network and learn what others are doing; and a mentorship program that brings together people who want to develop professional skills for a geospatial career together.

This group is great if you’re looking for ways to increase your involvement in the geospatial field.

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Have a mapping, GIS, or communications resource you don’t see on here yet?

This list is not exhaustive and only touches the top of the iceberg.

Share your resource by clicking the SHARE YOUR RESOURCE HERE button and we’ll add it to our collection!

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