On Becoming a GISP

05-30-2014 12:00 AM
Esri Frequent Contributor
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Awhile back, I completed a long time goal:  I applied to the GIS Certification Institute and became a certified professional in GIS (GISP).  The GIS Certification Institute (GISCI) is a tax-exempt not-for-profit organization that provides the geographic information systems (GIS) community with an internationally-recognized, complete certification program.  The Institute is comprised of leading non-profit associations (AAG, NSGIC, UCGIS, URISA, GLIS, and others) focused on the application of GIS and geospatial technology. GISCI offers participants, from the first early years on the job until retirement, a positive method of developing value for professionals and employers in the GIS profession. GISP has a fascinating history and there are now over 10,000 active GISPs located throughout the world.  For more, see my video here.


GIS Certification Institute.

A GISP is therefore a certified geographic information systems (GIS) professional.  A GISP has met the minimum standards for educational achievement, professional experience, and manner in which he or she contributes back to the profession. A GISP must abide by higher guidelines for ethical behavior.  A GISP continues to educate and reeducate him or herself while preparing for recertification.  A GISP has had their professional background scrutinized and reviewed by the GISCI, an independent, third party organization.   A GISP can reside anywhere in the world;  active GISPs are currently found in all 50 States and 25 foreign countries.  A GISP is more than a practitioner of GIS technology:  A GISP is a professional, engaged in the profession and networking with other professionals.

The current GISP Certification process consists of an application that describes an applicant's background in (1) ethics, (2) education, (3) experience, and (4) contributions to the Profession.  It also includes a rigorous but necessary exam.  Once that application, accompanying documentation, exam, and payment are submitted, the review generally takes from 30 to 45 days for approval.  Selected GISPs are performing groundbreaking work in the process of continually improving the exam as GIS continues to evolve.  The exam was originally based on the Geospatial Technical Competency Model (GTCM) that was approved by the Department of Labor in 2010.

Are you a busy GIS professional and think this process will take a long time?  Not to worry.  Bill Hodge, Tony Spicci, and the other staff at GISCI and GIS professionals have labored long and hard on the application process to make it as straightforward as possible.  Although it takes awhile to assemble the necessary documentation and write the statements you need, (1) It took much less time than I had expected, particularly since I maintain an active curriculum vita.  (2) Becoming GISP was absolutely worth doing.  Upon receiving my acceptance letter and certificate, I was proud to have attained this achievement, and more importantly, to give back to my profession that has given so much to me.

About the Author
I believe that spatial thinking can transform education and society through the application of Geographic Information Systems for instruction, research, administration, and policy. I hold 3 degrees in Geography, have served at NOAA, the US Census Bureau, and USGS as a cartographer and geographer, and teach a variety of F2F (Face to Face) (including T3G) and online courses. I have authored a variety of books and textbooks about the environment, STEM, GIS, and education. These include "Interpreting Our World", "Essentials of the Environment", "Tribal GIS", "The GIS Guide to Public Domain Data", "International Perspectives on Teaching and Learning with GIS In Secondary Education", "Spatial Mathematics" and others. I write for 2 blogs, 2 monthly podcasts, and a variety of journals, and have created over 5,000 videos on the Our Earth YouTube channel. Yet, as time passes, the more I realize my own limitations and that this is a lifelong learning endeavor and thus I actively seek mentors and collaborators.