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Getting back into GIS/Cart after many years away

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Hello everyone,


I received my BA in Geography in 2004 and went to work as a GIS Analyst for two years (2004-06).  I then went off to pursue other interests in the humanities/academia and did not keep up with advancements in the field. Now, almost 8 years later, I would like to find my way back into the world of mapmaking as a profession, but my skill set is so outdated that I am just not marketable.


So my questions are these: What is the best way to update my GIS/cartography skills and make myself competitive on the job market once again?  Should I enroll in an online GIS certificate or Master's program? Which ones are considered the best?  Is a certificate good enough to show employers that I'm up to speed, or would a Master's degree carry significantly more weight?  Time and money are a consideration, of course, but so is my lack of practical experience over the past 8 years.


The overall goal is to make me employable again in this field. Any thoughts?


Thanks in advance,




David Medeiros

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You might do best to enroll in a local GIS certificate program. You can usually complete these in a year or so, while working. Becasue they are college credit based and invlove in-class learning and participation, they carry more weight that most shorter online programs (and WAY more weight than a wekend "cert" program, if those are even around anymore).


One of the great benefits of being in a local program is local networking that often leads to real world experience through projects, internships (often paid) and even regular employment.


I've done both the GIS certificate and now a GIS Masters over the past few years to advance my career and in both cases I reaped the benfits of being in the program in terms of emplyment way before I was actually finsihed with the work.


Also, don't undefestimate the importance of your BA in Geography. A large number of GIS proffesonals coem to GIS from fields other than Geog and that can be a real advanatge for you depending on what you want to do. For research based GIS or GIS in education in particular.


And look back over your recent non-GIS work to see what else may cary over. Make connections between your exisitng expericne and the work you want to do with GIS or cartography.


Apart from that, the best way to gain expericne is to start making maps. Demonstration projects that you can show on a website are a great addition to your resume. Volunteer some wowrk for a local non-profit or just dream up soemthing to do and post it to your portfolio.


Good luck!

GIS Reference and Instruction Specialist, Stanford Geospatial Center.


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