GIS certification is on the minds of many GIS users, and National URISA has played a lead role in developing GIS certification standards. As a result this work, an independent organization called the GIS Certification Institute (GISCI) has been created to oversee and implement the GIS certification program. This program is open to all GIS users, regardless of what software they use, what professional organizations they belong to, or to what field they apply GIS. Certification has many benefits for the GIS community, such as:

  • Providing a means to attain recognition by one’s colleagues and peers that the GIS professional has demonstrated competence and integrity in the field.
  • Encouraging long-term professional development that will help existing professionals maintain currency in GIS technology and methods.
  • Ensuring ethical behavior by members of the profession and providing a basis for judging the validity of allegations or complaints against GIS practitioners.
  • Assisting prospective employers to assess and hire GIS professionals.
  • Ensuring that those who produce geographic information have a core competency of knowledge.
  • Defining and protecting professional bodies of knowledge.
  • Assisting aspiring GIS professionals choose their educational opportunities wisely.

In 2003, GISCI undertook a pilot program in the State of Georgia to formalize the GIS certification process. Several dozen GIS professionals from a number of Georgia entities took active part in the pilot program. During URISA’s annual conference held in Atlanta twenty-nine professionals who took part in the pilot program and met the minimum standard established by GISCI for certification were recognized as “Certified GIS Professional” (GISP). The program has been rolled out nationwide since January 1, 2004.

GISP presentation

For more information on the program, please visit the GIS Certification Institute website at www.gisci.org.