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#16
Rob

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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.


interesting little tidbit. i think it's a little chick/egg thingy imho. it seems to me that the folks who can/would pursue the GISP probably already make more than the folks who can't qualify, in general terms. that logic doesn't include the folks who can but won't pursue it though. and they say there are now about 1600 GISPs registered.

When I first heard about this a couple years back, i thought, who are they to knight someone as "professional"... Sometimes I think that even if you aren't interested or don't think there is value in such a thing (and I tend to agree with the folks here in that one's portfolio should do the majority of the talking), but everyone else is doing it, you kinda have to bite the bullet just to stay in it. Maybe there will be a tipping point in the future where loads of RFPs weight such a thing higher than not...

i don't have one, but since Hans first posted this and I looked into it, I do think that it could help with our county/state/fed quals packages.

#17
David T

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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.


Erin, I’m glad to hear that! I wouldn’t say it’s the only motivating factor, but it’s a big motivating factor for me. As I mentioned before, it’s taken me out of my comfort zone, which is a good thing. It allows me to really look at things, and consider how I can contribute to my community, while also contributing to my job.

It works both ways, too. Now that I am in management, but boss often teases me that I don’t have time to make maps anymore. However, for my own professional enrichment, I can make the case that I need to make the occasional map. (I can usually find some topic that’s appropriate). Putting together a presentation for the ESRI Conference, allows me to explore an important topic for work. The research and presentation are a benefit to the Marine Corps. It’s a benefit to the community, and I benefit from it. So, a win-win (or is it a win-win-win?)

(and I tend to agree with the folks here in that one's portfolio should do the majority of the talking)


While I agree with that statement - I wonder....how does a GIS Professional show a portfolio?

Keep in mind my background - I studied GIS and Cartography in college. When I graduated, I worked for a couple of years as a cartographer. I didn't do GIS at all in my cartographic position. I did have a cartographic portfolio to showcase when I was ready to move onto other positions.

But, for a GIS Analyst, this isn't as easy. I've recently been involved with interviewing for a couple of GIS Analyst position (I was on the interviewer side). There's no real way to evaluate an SDE Administrator or a Senior Analyst with a portfolio. While it's helpful to see some maps that they may have done, I doubt they'd have anything to show me. Plenty to tell me - what sorts of analysis they've performed, problems they've solved, data that they have managed. But there isn't a good visual measure for someone like that.

At Headquarters Marine Corps (HQMC), we have a very talented Senior GIS Analyst. They tease him often that, while he knows his stuff, and is really good - he can't make a decent map to save his life.

The GISP is, to a degree, a measurement of your GIS abilities, and not your map making ability. I like to think of it as another tool in the tool belt. You should always use the best tools you have available. So, if you're going for a government consulting job, whose focus is GIS - having the GISP certainly can't hurt your chances. If you're doing cartographic work - pull out that portfolio.
David Toney, GISP
GIS Manager
United States Marine Corps
West Coast Installations

#18
Sky Schemer

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The GISP is, to a degree, a measurement of your GIS abilities, and not your map making ability. I like to think of it as another tool in the tool belt. You should always use the best tools you have available. So, if you're going for a government consulting job, whose focus is GIS - having the GISP certainly can't hurt your chances. If you're doing cartographic work - pull out that portfolio.


I don't think the GIS industry is anywhere near alone in this regard. My day job is a UNIX systems administrator, and for years USENIX and SAGE have been fighting this certification battle. Everyone wants something like an MSCE so that they can differentiate a "real" sysadmin from the person who downloaded Ubuntu and installed it on a computer once and then put "Linux" on their resume.

I guess I am a skeptic and I see industry certifications as a form of minority rule. "They" decide what the industry standards are and then you are asked to pay money to be accepted into the club. And what does that cert really mean? It means you passed a background check and took some classes and so on and so forth. All stuff that can be gleaned from a good resume or a phone screening.

The thing is, if you structure your interviews right, you can separate the wheat from the chaff without a lot of trouble. But some employers want to be lazy and filter resumes based on acronyms instead of reading the content, and so it becomes a self-perpetuating cycle.

#19
David T

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I guess I am a skeptic and I see industry certifications as a form of minority rule. "They" decide what the industry standards are and then you are asked to pay money to be accepted into the club. And what does that cert really mean? It means you passed a background check and took some classes and so on and so forth. All stuff that can be gleaned from a good resume or a phone screening.


The question is, who is 'they'. The 'they' in this particular case is:

* The Association of American Geographers (AAG)
* The National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC)
* The University Consortium of Geographic Information Science (UCGIS)
* The Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA)

As far as GIS is concerned - do you believe that these organizations have a good understanding of GIS? Or that their membership has a good understanding of GIS? That's an open ended question, and only one that each of us can answer. I, personally, feel that each of these organizations have a good understanding of GIS, that their membership has a good understanding of GIS, and that the requirements for getting a GISP, as set forth by these organizations, were an accurate fit to my skills. But, that doesn't necessarily (and shouldn't necessarily) apply to everyone.

I will say this - while I trust those organizations to help develop the GISP standards, I am not currently, nor have I ever been, a member of any of those organizations.

I spoke earlier about that becoming a GISP has encouraged me to do more within my field. It has encouraged me to look into becoming a member of those organizations. But, after reviewing the benefits, and weighing them against the costs of membership, I decided not to join. One of the benefits of membership is that you earn credit toward your GISP. That weighed into my decision. In the end, I couldn't justify the cost of those organizations with the potential added benefit for credit toward my recertification.

The thing is, if you structure your interviews right, you can separate the wheat from the chaff without a lot of trouble. But some employers want to be lazy and filter resumes based on acronyms instead of reading the content, and so it becomes a self-perpetuating cycle.


I'm not denying that a good resume or phone screening can glean that information. Truth is - there are lazy people out there. And unintelligent people out there. When you have HR Managers, IT Managers, and Contracting Officers that are not familiar with GIS, you run the risk of the wrong person or company getting through. How can you even get those qualified companies, if those individuals don't know what to look for?

To a certain degree, it's shooting for the lowest common denominator. But, it does get you in the front door.

I agree that there are employers that want to be lazy. There are some employers that are just too 'big' to have time to deal with figuring it all out. I work for the Federal Government. It irritates me to know end, but, our Human Resource people, and our Contracting people, don't have time to wade through this stuff for me. But I don't have time to accept every single thing that comes our way. It's impossible for the HR and Contracting staff to be smart about everything. I need to make it easy for them to do their job. So, while it may be a self-perpetuating cycle, it's a cycle I have to participate in.

I understand your points completely, and just offer a counter-point to it. I was in the skeptical column for a good, long time. It wasn't until a friend of mine got her GISP, and I started talking to her about it, that I decided to pursue it. I've only had my GISP since October. I'm curious to see how else it will serve me in the next four years.
David Toney, GISP
GIS Manager
United States Marine Corps
West Coast Installations

#20
MapMedia

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When HR managers learn there is a GISP, then they expect all GIS applicants to have one. And some might obtain a GISP through via employer as professional training.

#21
David T

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To continue the discussion, the following is one aspect I really like about the GISP program:


(As emailed from GISCI today)

GISCI is ready to move forward with its long awaited mentoring program for students and young professionals. The goal of the mentoring program will be to link students and young professionals (mentees) up with GISPs for a 6-month mentoring relationship. A successful mentoring relationship will result in one contribution point being awarded to the GISP.

No other mentoring program like this exists on a national and international basis. GISCI is very excited to link GISPs up with students and young professionals interested in GIS as a career path. The information that GISPs will be able to offer, technical, ethical, or professional, will be invaluable as these aspiring professionals move forward in their careers.

The first step is creating a database of GISPs who are interested in participating. All GISPs are eligible to participate. After a suitable number of mentors have been identified, we will advertise the program to colleges, universities, and through other PR channels. All future GISPs will be given the option to participate too.

How mentoring will work:
1. A student or young professional will visit the GISCI website.
2. They will search the GISP Manifest by "Mentor" which will list all the potential mentors in the program.
3. The student will complete a web form that asks the name of the mentor(s) they are interested in working with.
4. GISCI will send the student's contact information to the potential mentor.
5. The mentor will indicate their willingness or ability to help.
6. After 6-months, the mentor and mentored will evaluate the mentoring relationship and GISCI will award one contribution point based on a positive evaluation.

For the most part, this will be a phone or email mentoring relationship. Face- to-face activities, such as shadowing the mentor at work, could also occur.


Honestly, this is not something I would have thought to do on my own. I have already indicated my interest to the GISCI.

There's no sales pitch to join the GISCI program (the potential mentees wouldn't have enough experience to gain an GISP). But, here's an opportunity to reach out to those just getting a start in this career path. Although I'm glad to earn the 'point' toward my recertification, that's not the deciding factor in my participation.
David Toney, GISP
GIS Manager
United States Marine Corps
West Coast Installations

#22
MapMedia

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Good on you, Dave.
I mentor a few GIS analysts in the consulting field. Some companies have formal mentor programs, but oddly enough, not many small firms have multiple GIS people, so finding a mentor through GISCI could prove to be a great way to go.

#23
Hans van der Maarel

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Dave,

That is a really great programme indeed and I've been wondering about something like this myself (there was an article in a Dutch Geo magazine last month about the state of Geo-education over here, it got me thinking...). Well, maybe I should go ahead and work my way through the forms to get certified... :rolleyes:
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#24
ELeFevre

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What a great idea and program. There really needs to be more opportunities and channels like this for people just entering the field to go down. This is great for everyone involved.



#25
JUngleGeorge

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There is a problem with the GIS Certification process, and the problem - in my opinion - lies in the actual term "GIS". Here is the problem with that term, as I see it. It all depends on whether one asks "What is GIS?" or "What is a GIS?". The potential employee should be most interested in evaluating the response to the first question, as the answer to it covers the potential job-seeker's academic qualifications - geography in all its aspects. As a senior manager I am more interested in the potential employee's knowledge and qualifications in Geography, and this, to me, calls for at least a Bachelor's degree with a Geography major (North American) ar a degree in Geography (UK/European). If my potential employee has the right degree, then his/her academic background ensures that they will know for what a GIS can be used. The skills concerned with how to use a GIS is the answer to the second question, "What is a GIS?".
The confusion about Certification is based in the difference between the answers to the two questions. "What is GIS?" begs the responder to be able to answer the question as an academic, in its fullness. "What is a GIS?", on the other hand, begs the responder to refer to the computer technology and software skills/training that enables GIS, and enables the academic and geographically knowledgeable professional to properly employ GIS technology.
Certification, in my opinion, should be based on GIS academic qualifications, GIS experience, and GIS portfolio. And that conclusion really makes me wonder whether the proposed GISC in North America has any validity at all. I would prefer to study a good resume, and know that the potential employee maybe has some Vendor Training and Certification in specific software if needed. And this last is not really a specific need for any GIS job, in my experience - after all, doing a Degree in GIS has surely exposed the person to some GIS software and the skills required to use it in a geographically meaningful way?

#26
David T

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There is a problem with the GIS Certification process, and the problem - in my opinion - lies in the actual term "GIS". Here is the problem with that term, as I see it. It all depends on whether one asks "What is GIS?" or "What is a GIS?". The potential employee should be most interested in evaluating the response to the first question, as the answer to it covers the potential job-seeker's academic qualifications - geography in all its aspects. As a senior manager I am more interested in the potential employee's knowledge and qualifications in Geography, and this, to me, calls for at least a Bachelor's degree with a Geography major (North American) ar a degree in Geography (UK/European). If my potential employee has the right degree, then his/her academic background ensures that they will know for what a GIS can be used. The skills concerned with how to use a GIS is the answer to the second question, "What is a GIS?".
The confusion about Certification is based in the difference between the answers to the two questions. "What is GIS?" begs the responder to be able to answer the question as an academic, in its fullness. "What is a GIS?", on the other hand, begs the responder to refer to the computer technology and software skills/training that enables GIS, and enables the academic and geographically knowledgeable professional to properly employ GIS technology.
Certification, in my opinion, should be based on GIS academic qualifications, GIS experience, and GIS portfolio. And that conclusion really makes me wonder whether the proposed GISC in North America has any validity at all. I would prefer to study a good resume, and know that the potential employee maybe has some Vendor Training and Certification in specific software if needed. And this last is not really a specific need for any GIS job, in my experience - after all, doing a Degree in GIS has surely exposed the person to some GIS software and the skills required to use it in a geographically meaningful way?


An interesting and thoughtful perspective. I'd like to address a couple of points that you brought up:

Certification, in my opinion, should be based on GIS academic qualifications, GIS experience, and GIS portfolio.


I agree with this statement.

The certification process for the GISP covers those three areas. The first area that you must qualify in, is related to your academic qualifications. Specifically, what classes have you taken. What forms of continuing education have you participated in (conferences, training classes, etc). Not only should you have achieved some level of educational experience (college education), but you should show some continued education in the field. Transcripts and other records to 'prove' your educational background are required.

The second area looks at your work experience. You must explain what it is you do (both currently and in the past), and how it relates directly to GIS. A resume is required to be included. A letter from your current supervisor, certifying that your job duties and other experience are correct to the best of their knowledge.

Thirdly, a GIS portfolio. That's a tougher area to cover. What exactly is a GIS portfolio? Is it just a set of printed maps? I would argue no. It has to be much more than that. There is so much more to do in the field of GIS, beyond making a map. How does one prove, in a portfolio, that they know how to generate a DEM? How does one prove, in a portfolio, that they know how to administer an SDE? The GISC does look for your contributions to the field. What have you done to further your involvement in GIS? For some, it can be map production. For others, it is participation in local GIS councils. It can also include paper presentations at conferences, and publications in trade journals.

The potential employee should be most interested in evaluating the response to the first question, as the answer to it covers the potential job-seeker's academic qualifications - geography in all its aspects. As a senior manager I am more interested in the potential employee's knowledge and qualifications in Geography, and this, to me, calls for at least a Bachelor's degree with a Geography major (North American) ar a degree in Geography (UK/European). If my potential employee has the right degree, then his/her academic background ensures that they will know for what a GIS can be used.


While I agree with your requirements for certifications, I actually disagree with your perspective here. Academic qualifications cannot be the end all for GIS, nor any other field. One of the best cartographers I ever met, never took a cartography or geography class. But she was a heck of a designer, with an outstanding design background. Map creation came easy to her. She was very well respected at the company she worked for, despite her lack of a geography degree.

I was talking to my project manager the other day, and we were talking about one of my GIS Analysts. I was shocked to find out that he is in early 20s. He has a maturity to himself that you don't normally see in someone that age. He is incredibly smart, and knows quite a bit about GIS. He also has a great personal demeanor about him, and I feel very comfortable allowing him to interact with senior military staff (Majors, Colonels, etc). He represents my office very well.

If you were to look at his educational background, you might completely dismiss him. I was shocked to learn that we hired him while he was in high school. He has been with us for 7 years, and definitely knows his stuff.

At the same time, just having a geography degree isn't enough. I know plenty of people with geography degrees, but don't know how to spell GIS. ;) I wouldn't trust them to come near my data.

It falls to the GISCI and GISPs (including myself) to better educate the public, managers, and others as to the purpose behind certification, and the qualifications required to obtain it. I would not have pursued it if I thought it were something that just anyone could obtain.
David Toney, GISP
GIS Manager
United States Marine Corps
West Coast Installations

#27
burwelbo

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Having obtained my GISP I guess I am more biased towards David's point of view. In my opinion, the GISP represents a summary of a persons overall qualifications within the spatial sciences or geomatics. Someone could easily obtain a degree in Geography and never take a GIS course. I have seen people take a few courses and work for 3 months and all of a sudden have GIS Analyst at the end of their email. I like the thought that there is an organizing body rewarding me with a designation that represents the time and effort I have put into my career as well as how much I contribute to the profession. I think alot of employers see the same thing. Dave is also right that a GIS portfolio could be non existant for some disciplines. I think the name should be changed to represent the entire spatial sciences field and not just GIS. Every profession has a professional association so why not us.

Just my thoughts.
Bruce




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