Who is a Geographic Information Systems Professional (GISP)?

  • GISP is a Certified Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Professional endorsed by a 3rd party (GISCI) though a peer-reviewed evaluation. 
  • GISP has met the minimum standards for educational achievement, professional experience, manner in which he or she contributes back to the profession, and practices in an ethical manner. 
  • GISP must adhere to the highest standards of ethical behavior. 
  • GISP participates in continuing education to educate him or herself while advancing in their profession. 
  • GISP has had their professional background scrutinized and reviewed by an independent third party organization. An Institute comprised of leading non-profit associations (AAG, NSGIC, UCGIS and URISA) focused on the application of GIS and geospatial technology. 
  • GISP can come from anywhere in the world.  Currently, active GISPs reside in all 50 states and over 55 foreign countries.
  • GISP is more than a practitioner of GIS technology. 
  • GISP is a Professional.

Before the Program is explained, it is important to discuss the difference between certificates, certification, licensure, and accreditation. GISCI offers a complete certification program.

Certificate: An award given to an individual recognizing completion of an academic or training program.

Certification: A process, often voluntary, by which individuals who have demonstrated a level of expertise in the profession are identified to the public and other stakeholders by a third party. Designed to recognize expertise.

Licensure: The granting of a license to practice a profession. Often regulated by states and indoctrinated in legislation. Designed to guard against incompetence. 

Accreditation: The process of evaluating the academic qualifications or standards of an institution or program of study in accordance with pre-established criteria.

Read the GISCI Policy Statement on GIS Professional Certification

Minimum Required Points for Initial Certification

The GISP is expected to be knowledgeable of the ethical considerations of this industry and will conduct him or herself in an ethical manner in all aspects of the job.

Experience is the most important factor in applying skills to real world problems, and education plays a very important role in providing the knowledge and intellectual maturity required to approach problems and communicate solutions effectively.  In addition, professionals must contribute to the advancement of the profession by donating their skills in professional efforts not designed for individual compensation, but rather to maintain the fundamental health of the Profession.

This forms the basis for the minimum number of points required in each category.  The minimums are based upon a model GIS Professional who possess the following characteristics: a baccalaureate degree in any field supplemented with a number of courses, workshops, seminars, conferences, and other documented educational activities whose subject matter relates directly to GIS and geospatial data technologies; at least four years of equivalent full-time experience in a position that involves spatial data compilation, teaching, GIS analysis, design, or programming; and more years if in a GIS user position; and a demonstrated record of participating and/or presenting in GIS conferences, publications, or GIS-related events (such as GIS-Day). 

Flexibility is important, of course. GISCI recognizes that there are many professionals who should qualify but do not have the formal background that is currently available to those who are now at the beginning of their careers, and that there are other professionals who have not yet built a record or do not have institutional support to contribute back to the profession.  As a result, points for a variety of different activities within the three categories of Education, Experience, and Contributions allow those non-typical individuals to qualify with different points that add up to equivalent levels.

The minimum number of points needed to become a certified GIS Professional, as detailed in the three point schedules below, is 150 points.

All applicants are expected to document achievements valued at a minimum of 150 points. To ensure that applicants have a broad foundation, specific minimums in each of the three achievement categories must be met or exceeded.  These minimums are as follows:

Education - Section I: 30 Points
Experience- Section II: 60 Points
Contributions - Section III: 8 Points

The additional 52 points can be counted from any of the three categories.  The applicant has complete flexibility in deciding how to make up this difference. In other words, the 52 points can be made up from any combination of points from any one (or more) of the categories.

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