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#1
Hans van der Maarel

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I was quite interested to read this article, which mentions a GIS certification by the GIS Certification Institute. Basically you fill out a form, pay $250 and they decide whether you're a certified GIS professional.

So I decided to give it a try...

And...

It appears I'm not qualified :) I earned a B.Sc in Geo-Informatics in 1999 and have been working in the GIS/Cartography ever since, the last 3 years running my own business. According to the form you need 30 education points, I only got 22.8, because I haven't done that many additional training after getting the B.Sc (I've been *giving* training, but apparently that doesn't count).

Anybody here succesfully qualify? I'm not being disgruntled here, just curious...

Aside from that (and not just because I didn't qualify), I really wonder what the added value of this certification is. I think, and feel rather strongly about this, that it's what you can do that counts. Not what's on your diploma or certificate...
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#2
Sky Schemer

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The FAQ is a real hoot. There's a lot of "Why aren't my skills/isn't my certificate program/whatnot good enough?" answered with "Well, there's not been agreement on the skills needed for the profession". To which, of course, they have responded by creating their own certification process. :blink:

#3
peanut

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Several colleagues have mentioned this certification in the past. This is the first time I have taken a look at it... Looking through I should have enough points to qualify. The question is... Should I take the time to do it?

I tend to agree with Hans in that I think the certification might not count for much. I would rather let my GIS/Cartographic accomplishments stand on their own rather than use some socially constructed certification as proof of my GIS/Cartographic abilities. That being said part of me thinks that getting certified might provide me with some unforeseen future benefits.

Any other thoughts on this?

Hans:

Looking over the materials you would likely qualify under the grandfather requirements based on GIS experience. 8 years in a GIS position of data analysis, system design, programming, or similar position would qualify you by itself.

Rich

#4
paul

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Funny this should come up; I just started the application process yesterday. I have been a full-time GIS Specialist for a little over 4 years, and I'm just over the minimum qualification criteria. My co-worker received his certification a couple year ago.

As to whether or not it helps people out, I'm sure it does to a degree. Certainly $250 worth anyway. I have seen GISP certification pop up occasionally on job advertisements, usually under "Recommended". I think during a hiring process, if it came down to two otherwise equal candidates, one with a certificate and one without, I'll put my money on the one with a certificate. I think it gives an edge and some leverage to hiring and also salary. Not much, but a little. I'm applying for it because I want that slight edge, and also for some symbolic value. :rolleyes:

#5
ELeFevre

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Hans,
During the application process were ever asked to submit samples of your work?

I don't know, a part of me thinks these type of industry certifications (along some of the 100% online certification programs) only complicate and dumb-down the industry. Hopefully I'm not offending anyone and I'm wrong about that. Although, how many certifications are really necessary? Don't certifications just lead to more and more certifications down the road?? We've discussed this type of thing in past and we always return to the portfolio as the most reliable quage of knowledge... along with a degree from a solid educational program.
I'll make you a nice little "GIS certificate" for free if it will make you feel better. Hell, I'll even throw in a few gold stars for extra credibility. Doesn't make any sense in my book why you shouldn't be able to get the certificate. I hope they refund your $250.



#6
Andrew

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Hi,

I agree with Erin on this one. I too am a bit weary of these online certification processes.

I only had a quick look at the application form and the site, but to me it seems a very wierd that they can calculate how "certified" I may or may not be from that form. I would have thought that my university degree or any equivalent learning avenue (which is theory and competency based) and industry experience would be a better indication to a potential employer. Like Erin mentioned, you couple that with a good portfolio showing your range of skills and understanding of spatial and cartogarphic principles you would have to be much better off in my opinion.

Also just curious and I might answer my question if I have a closer look at the application form, but what measures are in place to make sure information is accurate. I seen that you get points for attending conferences and other similar events, what proof do they ask for there? I seen proof required for a degree, but how will they prove something like that.

Anyhoo good topic.

Also I just wanted to add I that there are a number of members here who I admire as they do absolutely outstanding work, being relatively new to the industry (3 years now) these people symbolise where I want to be one day. Hans I always look at your work when I come across it (and want one of those chairs) IMO it would take one brave (or stupid) person to make a decision on your ability/competency based on a certification like we have discussed over a portfolio like yours.

#7
Hans van der Maarel

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@Andrew,

Thanks for the kind words.



@Rich,

Yes, I think you're right, I could qualify under that provision.


@Erin,

Is that your side business? ;)


On a general note, I too would prefer to be judged on my portfolio and accomplishments. I'm trying very hard to improve and enhance my skillset through tackling more and more challenging projects. The thing is that I don't think attending conferences and training courses counts for that much. Especially training courses, if you don't end up using any of the stuff you learned there, it will be gone in a few months. I haven't really progressed that far into the form (30-something pages, and it was late last night that I looked at it).

Still, it might be worth doing this. The money, $250, isn't really a big hurdle. I guess it would look good for shameless self-promotion. :rolleyes:
Hans van der Maarel - Cartotalk Editor
Red Geographics
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#8
MapMedia

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GIS certification is good for certain people in certain sectors. It is not equivalent to a civil engineer getting his/her certification, because it is not a license. I have worked with people in GIS positions that really had no foundation at all, and were scrambling to learn as they went. Not fun to co-work with someone who is barely treading water. ;) Certainly their employer could have used a certification as a screen through which they wouldn't have gotten through.

So, hiring (or getting hired) aside, in terms of a competent GIS analyst consulting on their own, certification is a client demand issue: do your clients, and their RFPs require certification? <YES/NO THEN statement here>

#9
araki5

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Hans,
Sorry about the GISP cert. I would assume since you have been in the field for a while and have been getting clients they would have taken that as a major part of the cert. This is what concerns me about GISP. It seems as though the whole process is arbitrary and capricious. My friend just got his GISP about a month ago and he barely got the 4 year requirement. He is very knowledgeable about GIS, but my suspicion is that this GISCI really counts CONFERENCES (ie ESRI UC) as a major factor in its decision to award the cert to which his employer puts up the money and accomodations for it. I'm for conferences, but I'm not for the $1000 price tag and that really is the BULL$HIT part of this organization and how they award the cert.

I really am interested in the cert, however, it really ticks me off to no end that it really is a crapshoot on who gets it and who doesn't. Sorry about my language, but this is pretty serious stuff. A lot of municipalities are REQUIRING GISP certification to get the contracts for work and now were talking about people's livelihoods. Not a good sign.
Randy Long
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Raster is Faster, but Vector is Corrector.

#10
David T

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I think I'm the first GISP to step into this thread.

First off - you have to start somewhere. Is it perfect? By no means. But, it's a start. And that's the first key. Much as we are finding that anyone can open ArcGIS or Google Earth and proclaim "I have made a map!", we need to have something to show that we are a profession, and that our expertise is worth something.

Officially, my academic degree is "Bachelor of Arts, Geography, with an Emphasis on Geographical Analysis". What does that mean? Does that mean that I have GIS knowledge? Does it mean that I can make a map? In my case, the answer to both is yes. But that isn't necessarily the case with anyone else. Five years ago, when I was hired into my first GIS position (after spending two years as a Cartographic Artist - working strictly in Freehand, and two more years as a mapping services salesperson) - I didn't have much in the way of good GIS qualifications. I had my experiences in school (4 years removed), but I would certainly be called a beginner.

In my five years as a GIS Technician, I assisted a multitude of users. Some of them didn't know how to spell GIS. Others have gotten quite good at working GIS. But none of them are GIS Analysts. However, having a working knowledge of GIS - how does that set them aside from me?

Certainly, experience is key. Looking over someone's resume, talking with them - clearly, that's the way to figure out what their skill level is. There's no good 'GIS Test' that's going to tell us that someone is more qualified over someone else.

I look at it this way. I take pride in having a GISP. It's the first profesional recognition of my experience with my peers. I believe it shows pride in what you do, and an interest in your community. Because of the requirements to participate in your own continuing education, along with attending conferences, as well as submitting material to conferences - I believe it shows pride in your profession, and a desire to continue to grow.

There are some other things to consider as well. If you are using GIS to gather data, and then exporting that to Illustrator, does that make you a GIS Professional? No. There is much more to GIS than just that. Someone else mentioned that the GISP seems heavily weighted to conferences (especially the ESRI Conference) - while no one conference gets any more points than another, there's a reason that conferences get weighted. With my own experience, I can tell you that the ESRI conference is a fantastic learning environment. I have learned more in four days at the ESRI Conference, then I have a learned in the year previous. Even if it's just a jumping off point to learning more about a topic when I return to the office, it still offers me a starting point to continue my education.

The participation portion of the GISP has encouraged me to grow beyond my comfort zone. Now that I am a GISP, I'm actively submitting maps to the ESRI Conference. I recently wrote an article for the GISP Newsletter. I am actively participating in the local GIS community (San Diego Regional GIS Council). I'm hoping to present a paper at the next ESRI Conference. I wish I could say that it was strictly my own desire that drives me to do this, but I will admit that having and maintaining my GISP helps motivate me a little bit more.

I know the arguement can be made that you can do all of that without having a GISP. But how do you show that?

Now, speaking from the government management side on a few issues - at this point in time, I wouldn't put it into a contract that a contractor is *required* to have GISPs on staff. Maybe at some point in the future, but at this point in time, there just aren't enough GISPs to require something like that. However, if I were looking over a contract, and one firm at GISPs, and another did not - all other things being equal, I would be more inclinded to go with the firm with the GISPs. I do believe a contractor does have a better advantage if they have numerous GISPs on staff.

When it comes to hiring, if two individuals were sitting in front of me, with equal skills and talent, I would give more stock to the individual with the GISP. (But, more goes into hiring a person than what you see on paper - and that includes the GISP).

I will agree that the GISP process can be confusing. Hans, I'm sorry that you didn't qualify when you submitted. I believe that the process can be confusing at times. I have a feeling you would probably qualify under the grandfather provision. You would not be the first person with a lot of experience, that has mentioned to me that they do not qualify.

I am happy to assist anyone giving this serious consideration. If you have questions or concerns, or are unclear on some of the procedures for the application process, please contact me, and I will go through it with you.
David Toney, GISP
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United States Marine Corps
West Coast Installations

#11
Hans van der Maarel

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Just for clarification: I haven't submitted it yet. The forms do come with a lot of explanation, including the line "you need a minimum of 30 education points to qualify". So I figured I'd save my money and use it for something else :rolleyes:

Still haven't made up my mind about the whole thing though. I mean, the cost is negligible, so it's just a matter of sitting down and doing it (although free time is rather nonexistant for me at the moment, so that's one thing holding me back). It's just that I wonder whether I'll ever end up in a situation where having the GISP proves to be a benefit.

The participation portion of the GISP has encouraged me to grow beyond my comfort zone. Now that I am a GISP, I'm actively submitting maps to the ESRI Conference. I recently wrote an article for the GISP Newsletter. I am actively participating in the local GIS community (San Diego Regional GIS Council). I'm hoping to present a paper at the next ESRI Conference. I wish I could say that it was strictly my own desire that drives me to do this, but I will admit that having and maintaining my GISP helps motivate me a little bit more.

I know the arguement can be made that you can do all of that without having a GISP. But how do you show that?


Eh... what do you mean? How would I show it? By simply doing it I guess... I've got some similar stuff behind me already, and more coming up. Not because I have a GISP to maintain, but because I like to do it and it certainly helps my reputation along as well. ;)

Edited by Hans van der Maarel, 06 August 2007 - 02:57 PM.
Changed wording a bit to better make my point

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#12
David T

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It's just that I wonder whether I'll ever end up in a situation where having the GISP proves to be a benefit.


That's a good question, and one I think a lot of people need to figure out. Is it a benefit for you? Do you see it being a benefit for you?

If I were a freelancer, or had only a small business, then I don't really see the point in doing it. The cost may not be an issue. But, I don't see a real benefit necessarily from doing it.

Where I see a benefit are for those of us in the public sector, or those of us that are part of a larger company. I recommend to all of my GIS Analysts - because they are all staffed by our primary contractor TAIC - that they look into becoming a GISP. These are all individuals that have no desire to be consultants, and have no desire to branch out on their own. They have a desire to stay within a bigger company's framework.

The participation portion of the GISP has encouraged me to grow beyond my comfort zone. Now that I am a GISP, I'm actively submitting maps to the ESRI Conference. I recently wrote an article for the GISP Newsletter. I am actively participating in the local GIS community (San Diego Regional GIS Council). I'm hoping to present a paper at the next ESRI Conference. I wish I could say that it was strictly my own desire that drives me to do this, but I will admit that having and maintaining my GISP helps motivate me a little bit more.

I know the arguement can be made that you can do all of that without having a GISP. But how do you show that?


Eh... what do you mean? How would I show it? By simply doing it I guess... I've got some similar stuff behind me already, and more coming up. Not because I have a GISP to maintain, but because I like to do it and it certainly helps my reputation along as well. ;)


That wasn't as clear as it could have been. Of course, you can put those things onto a resume. And you don't need to have the desire for a GISP to motivate you to doing those things. But, in the GIS world - you don't have to be a cartographer. You don't *have* to make good maps to be a good (or great) GIS Analysts, or GIS Professional. So, if you don't have a portfolio of cartographic work, it's not necessarily as easy to showcase your work and your talents.

If a company is just doing a quick glance at resumes, then having the GISP next to your name, may get you to the 'look at more closely' resume pile. It certainly shows, very quickly, that you have experience in the field.

If you see yourself applying for jobs that I would be hiring (whether you are bidding on a contract, or interviewing for a GIS Analyst position), then it might be appropriate to get a GISP. But, if you're not really running in circles where it matters, then I'd think twice.
David Toney, GISP
GIS Manager
United States Marine Corps
West Coast Installations

#13
David T

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I plan on posting this in another topic, but as it applies to this topic...

URISA released their latest salary survey.

To quote the relevant part:

Certified GIS Professionals (GISPs) earn, on average, nearly $9,000 more per year compared to those who are not certified $66,308 vs. $57,669).

28% of respondents are Certified GIS Professionals (GISP), and more than half (58.2%) of those who are not certified are planning to apply for GISCI certification within the next three years.


I'm not making a judgement call about the validity of the survey, etc. But, I saw that figure this morning, and wanted to pass it along to this conversation.
David Toney, GISP
GIS Manager
United States Marine Corps
West Coast Installations

#14
ELeFevre

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I think I'm the first GISP to step into this thread.

The participation portion of the GISP has encouraged me to grow beyond my comfort zone. Now that I am a GISP, I'm actively submitting maps to the ESRI Conference. I recently wrote an article for the GISP Newsletter. I am actively participating in the local GIS community (San Diego Regional GIS Council). I'm hoping to present a paper at the next ESRI Conference. I wish I could say that it was strictly my own desire that drives me to do this, but I will admit that having and maintaining my GISP helps motivate me a little bit more.



Hey David,
You made me think that if the GISP encourages someone to become more involved in the field/community then it's a win-win all around. I may need to reconsider my position on this one! thanks.



#15
MapMedia

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Good point Dave.
If anyone is consulting for municipalities or agencies in the US, you likely need a GISP.




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