Justin Holman is CEO of Aftermarket Analytics, where he leads efforts to develop cutting edge sales forecasting and inventory optimization technology for the Automotive Aftermarket. Prior to joining Aftermarket Analytics, Justin managed corporate consulting for the Strategy & Analytics division at MapInfo Corporation, leading major projects for retail clients including The Home Depot, Darden Restaurants, Bridgestone-Firestone, Sainsbury’s and New York & Company. Before that, Justin served as Vice President of Software Development at LogicTools, now part of IBM's supply chain application software group. Justin holds a B.A. from Claremont McKenna College, a Ph.D. from the University of Oregon and an Executive Management certificate from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management.


  • Rob Beutner 11 years ago

    Great Article!

    A good example of a person in this profession is Dr. Peter Rogerson – SUNY at Buffalo. http://www.acsu.buffalo.edu/~rogerson/

    Not much there on the page unfortunately – but someone that has melded statistics and geography in very meaningful ways.

    • Justin 11 years ago

      Thanks, Rob! I agree that Peter Rogerson is one of the key figures in this area. And Buffalo may now be the very best program to attend especially if you’re interested in spatial statistics and health, because of a strong faculty including Dr. Rogerson, Jared Aldstadt, Eun-Hye Enki Yoo, and, beginning this fall, Geoffrey Jacquez.

  • Dan Putler 11 years ago

    Good article Justin. The timing was good for your mentioning of Alteryx as a tool for spatial statistics. In the current release of Alteryx there is a tool to access R within an Alteryx module. We are currently working on major enhancements in terms of ease of use and reading and writing Alteryx spatial *.yxdb format files into R sp class (spatial) objects that will be coming out in the upcoming 7.1 release of Alteryx. In addition, we are working on PMML based approaches within Alteryx to make integration of statistical model results into business processes seamless.

    • Justin 11 years ago

      Dan, thank you for the comment and for the latest on integration with R. Please keep me posted. Is there a free trial or a demo that I could see?

      • Dan Putler 11 years ago

        The first set of the enhanced R tools will be part of the 7.1 release which is scheduled for late June. The tools fit into the Alteryx visual programming canvas and aren’t stand alone. What this means is that someone interested in them can trial them as part of a 30 day trial of Alteryx 7.1 when it is released. An initial demo of some of the tools was included as part (the last third) of a recorded webinar describing the new features in Alteryx 7.0. The webinar can be accessed through: http://pages.alteryx.com/Alteryx-7.0-Webinar.html

        Closer to the Alteryx 7.1 release, I will be doing a number of preview blogs and video demos for the new R-based tools.

        • Justin 11 years ago

          Thanks for sharing these details, Dan! Keep me posted as 7.1 gets closer.

  • James Norris 11 years ago

    Hi Justin,

    I’m always happy to see articles like this being posted by experienced spatial statisticians and spatial analysts. Assuming that an individual has acquired the necessary education and skill sets, I believe that your most important point is that of being able to communicate effectively – specifically, what does a spatial statistician do? Being able to simplify what many consider to be scary mathematics is a skill set that many scientists have not mastered outside of academia. In industry, supervisors and co-workers need to gain a basic understanding of standard spatial analytical processes. By utilizing appropriate visualization tools, and using metaphors to explain the science side, they can recognize the tangible outputs, and respect what you do. Thanks again for the article.

    • Justin 11 years ago

      Thanks, James! I appreciate the feedback!

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  • Theresa 11 years ago

    Hi, Justin. Your articles on spatial careers are the most useful guides I have found.

    A few years ago I discovered I have a love and aptitude for mathematics. I also have had an increasing obsession with physical geography and environmental science. My background is in a completely unrelated field, but I’ve started taking the first steps toward a career change by completing some GIS and math classes at the local community college. Your articles really helped orient me to the various geospatial career paths. I’ve been considering focusing on geospatial statistics, and I’m now more than ever convinced that pairing an MS in Geography with a Graduate Certificate in Statistics is the way to go for me. I am fortunate that both programs are offered at our local state university. Thanks for the great information!

    • Justin 11 years ago

      Theresa, Thanks for posting the positive feedback – I’m so glad to hear my blog has been helpful! Sounds like you’re making some good moves with coursework and degree planning. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do to help. Best of luck with your career change and please keep me posted along the way.
      Cheers, Justin

  • May 11 years ago

    Hi Justin, thank you. This spatial career guide helps me to decide my career direction. I am a graduate student majoring in GIS, and I am interested in Spatial Statistics. Recently, I started to search for jobs online using key words “Spatial Statistics”, but there are very limited search results. Could you give some practical guide for looking for jobs in this area? Any advice would be appreciated.

    • Justin 11 years ago

      Hi May – I’m glad this has been helpful. For statistics type jobs you’re probably better off searching with keywords “statistics” and “GIS” (or geographic, geospatial, etc). Another approach would be to search using your technical skill set; so searching for jobs that involve “SAS”, “SPSS”, “R” and “ArcGIS” or whatever software tools you use. Yet another approach would be to look for jobs with the title “Data Scientist”. Unfortunately, as a geographer, you’ll have to educate most employers as to what you can offer with your GIS/geography training. I’m confident that this area will grow but the term “spatial statistician” may not really be relevant. I think Data Scientist or Geographic Data Scientist is probably more likely to catch on. Good luck! Cheers, J.

  • BThomas 9 years ago

    Excellent post. I have a B.A/M.A in geography with an emphasis in remote sensing and physical geography. Unfortunately, the job market for my skill set isn’t good. Most remote sensing job posts require security clearance and/or 10 years experience and the environmental science jobs require more of a geology background with multiple certifications. I do have 2 years worth of statistics courses under my belt as well as one calculus course – “Applied Calculus I”. I use statistics all the time and I really enjoy exploring and analyzing datasets using R and SPSS. I have decided that I would like to pursue a career in this field since the applications are limitless. Will a certificate in statistics be enough to land a job or should I take more math courses at a community college?

    • Justin 9 years ago

      I think a certificate in statistics would be useful. You’ll want to take more advanced courses than a local community college would likely offer so you might want to look at online offerings unless you have convenient access to a major University. Look for offerings from the Economics department (Econometrics) or the Business School (Applied Regression) as well as the math/statistics department. Another option is to simply train yourself using books and online tutorials to expand your skills using R and SPSS. Sounds like you’re on a great path to becoming a Data Scientist, arguably the hottest career path currently available. Best wishes, Justin

  • Tchen 9 years ago

    This post is really helpful to me as a statistics practitioner with great interest in GIS. I have printed this post, and keep it for career goal reference.

    FYI, Dr. Cressie is moving back to Australia, no longer in OSU.

    • Justin 9 years ago

      Glad to hear the post is helpful – thanks! Yes, I had heard the news regarding Professor Cressie. Despite that OSU remains a top program so far as I can tell. Thanks for posting your comments! Cheers, Justin

  • lucas 8 years ago

    Hei! great post!
    I am an economist with a master in statistics and a passion for spatial data, handling in R. What about spatial econometrics?? Would you suggest some particular path? I´ve done carreer in financial audit and SAP but I do want to switch to spatial analysis….spatial econometrics.
    thanks again!!

    • Justin 8 years ago

      Hi Lucas,
      Your best bet would be to study at Arizona State under Luc Anselin, who wrote the book on spatial econometrics. You might also look at UT-Dallas and possibly Buffalo.
      Best wishes,

  • Zaky Musyarof 8 years ago

    Hi Mr. Holman.
    This post is helpful to me, thank you very much.
    I am an undergraduate of Statistics from a university in Indonesia. I am very interested to further my education if the field of Spatial/Environmental Statistics. I browsed the Spatial Statistics & Environmental Statistics (SSES) program at Ohio State University, it had closed. In a linear master program, do you have any advice for me to continue my education?

    • Justin 8 years ago

      Hi Zaky,
      The director of the program and the godfather of spatial statistics, Noel Cressie, left Ohio State and moved to the University of Wollongong in New Zealand. He’s set up a similar program there called the Center for Environmental Informatics: http://niasra.uow.edu.au/cei/index.html
      That would be a good place to start. Another strategy would be to read some of Cressie’s more recent publications and find where his co-authors work.
      There should be more of these types of programs. Maybe there are and I just don’t know about them. Let me know what you find.
      Best wishes,

  • Anthony Pezzotti 7 years ago

    Mr. Holman,

    Of all the career guides, the spatial statistics career path is the one that interests me the most. My background includes a Master’s of science in geology, GIS certificate completed during masters degree, and 5 years working in the environmental consulting industry. Given my background, are there any practical steps I can take to do work in this field? My plan so far includes: 1) build up my technical proficiency in various GIS and statistics concepts and software (learning phase), 2) look for opportunities in my industry (not much GIS use in my company) that incorporate more GIS analysis, 3) build a portfolio of various projects I’ve worked on (freelance, volunteer, self projects). I also know that gaining some programming proficiency will be important.

    I can’t go back for a MS in statistics right now (money and time constraints), but would a statistics certification be something worthwhile to look into (e.g. statistics.com offers online certifications, also there are data science certifications that could be useful).


    Anthony Pezzotti

    • Justin 7 years ago

      Hi Anthony,
      I think your plan makes some sense but I would start with the programming piece. My advice would be to learn Python and check out the “PySal” module. Maybe get a taste of R too. To me this would be the most efficient path to marketability in the data science world. I wouldn’t pursue any further degrees or certificates but the portfolio idea is good.
      Best wishes,

  • Josh 5 years ago

    Hello Justin,
    Thank you for this simple, yet insightful post. I had my BSc and MSc in Urban Planning in Nigeria. I love to develop a career on GIS Applications. I was able to find a supervisor in Germany, who just believes in me, after I was able to draft a proposal, just simple ideas on GIS Applications to Health outcomes. However, I have no explict background in GIS, Programmming, Statistics, Mathematics or Geography, except basic modules during my studies. I started the PhD on the note that I would take a course on spatial statistics. I have taken the course and I discovered that, it is a different field from my background. After the course, I had redrafted my proposal. But my challenge is that I dont have the expertise required, practical skills etc. I am scared and sometimes I feel like runing away from the PhD program. I found your blog today after typing on google *the required skills to be a spatial statistician*. What is your advice for me? what can I do to overcome this hurdle? Thanks

    • Justin 5 years ago

      Hi Josh,
      Thanks for your note. First, don’t feel intimidated by the vast amount of knowledge you don’t have already stored neatly in your brain. That’s why you’re in graduate school, right? If you already knew everything you wouldn’t need a PhD. Second, you don’t need to become an *expert* in spatial statistics to become an expert in “GeoHealth” or GIS + Epidemiology. It’s one important piece of the puzzle but, as you note, there are other equally important pieces including Geography, GIS, programming, specific health outcomes, etc. The only expertise you need to develop is the minimum level sufficient to complete a meaningful research project. And the best way to learn is to figure out what you *need* to be able to do on your own. Don’t think of your PhD studies as a linear sequence during which you first acquire all knowledge necessary to do research and, only then begin said research. You should expect to learn by doing along the way. My suggestion is to break your research proposal into very small, manageable tasks. Let’s say you’re studying the 2014 Ebola epidemic. Perhaps your first task is to gather data to understand the nature and extent of the epidemic. Gathering good data isn’t easy but you don’t need any special skills beyond the ability to wrangle a spreadsheet or, at most, a relational database. Once you have the data, hopefully with a spatial dimension, you probably want to make a map or a set of maps. That’s the time to pull out a GIS program and figure out how to produce such a map. You don’t need to know everything about GIS, you just need to know how to make a map that will help you understand and communicate your research findings. Once you have a map maybe you’ll want to trace or attempt to model the “spatial diffusion” of the virus. To do so, conduct a literature search with keywords “ebola” and “spatial diffusion” or similar. Learn how others have done similar work. Don’t worry about reading Noel Cressie’s entire life work on spatial statistics, just figure out how to solve the problem you *need* to solve. You’ll be surprised at how much you learn along the way. You may also be surprised as you make faster progress than students around you who feel the need to reinvent every wheel before assembling a useful cart. Hope this helps you. Above all, be persistent in your quest. Buckle down and fight the good fight. Don’t run away.
      Best wishes,

      • Josh 5 years ago

        Hello Justin,
        Thank you very much for writing explicitly. I am grateful for your time and breaking down the problem. You understood perfectly my challenges.
        Best wishes.

  • Tianchi Liu 4 years ago

    Hello Justin,
    Thank you for your Spatial Career Guide!
    I am an undergraduate at UC Berkeley studying statistics. I took a GIS course last semester and I am very interested in combining my interests in statistics and GIS. It seems spatial statistician would be a great fit! I know I will go to graduate school sometime, but right now, I am more inclined to work for a few years first. I would appreciate if you could give me some guidance on what to do after graduation with only an undergrad statistics degree. Is it even recommended to work first?
    Thank you in advance,

    • Justin 4 years ago

      Hi Tianchi!
      I’m so glad to hear some of this has been helpful to you. I think you have many good options. Working for a few years before grad school would be great as long as you can get a job where you’ll be learning applied methods and working with a dynamic team. If you can’t find that sort of situation then grad school would be a great option too. You may have an easier time finding a job with a Masters degree but the current job market for your skills is very hot. My advice is to look for a position where you’ll gain the most knowledge, rather than looking for the biggest paycheck. Good luck!
      Best wishes,

      • Tianchi Liu 4 years ago

        Thank you very much for your advice!

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