The GISCI Pathways to GISP Certification

A guide for college graduates to become a geosaptial professionals.


The GIS Certification Institute (GISCI) emphasizes that becoming a high-level GIS Professional involves identifying and addressing individual knowledge gaps. This "GISP Knowledge Gap" varies widely among applicants due to differences in education, training, and job experience. Therefore, GISCI does not prescribe a singular path to obtaining the GISP (Certified GIS Professional) certification. Instead, they provide resources and outline the certification process to help individuals assess their readiness and decide if pursuing GISP certification aligns with their professional goals.

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Components of a professional portfolio:

  1. Education and Training
  2. Professional Experience
  3. Contributions to the Profession


Becoming a GISCI GISP

You can access the GISP Applicant Procedures Manual: Here

You can access the Instructions for Portfolio Access document: Here

The process of becoming a certified GIS Professional can be broken down into several general categories and stages, which are outlined below and presented in the diagram below.

The GISP Portfolio

The GISP Portfolio, a part of the GISP Application process is not a portfolio in the normally defined area. Ours is an online, menu-guided, password protected snapshot of your Education, Experience, and Contributions to the Profession, each rated with a numerical rubric.

The Professional Portfolio

A “regular” Portfolio is an online catalog designed to display your work products, but this is different from the GISP Portfolio we use, described above. We highly recommended that a portfolio containing an individual’s work products be developed as early as possible for candidates to document and track examples of their work. This will not only be of great benefit in the process of becoming a GISP but also throughout their entire career. The portfolio should be web-based and not only include cartographic work, but also examples of data visualization, data conversion, workflow processes, data development, analytical tasks, production of reports, web GIS development, field mobility and data capture, to name a few. Developing a web-based portfolio will allow candidates to build on it over time and should include a PDF version of it with individual examples to share. The portfolio should also contain examples of conference presentations and poster submissions.

Components of GISP Certification Process

  1. Education and Training

Education and training play a significant role in the development of a GIS professional for attaining the foundational knowledge and skills necessary for a career in GIS and professional certification. An emphasis on education and training is true not only with formal academic programs, but also throughout one’s career by attending webinars, workshops, online training, and other learning plans and curriculums (vendor centric or neutral) as well as self-directed learning. It is also important to note that membership and participation in professional organizations and attendance at GIS conferences contribute significantly to one’s development and expansion of a professional network.

A more detailed description of the Education Section and Requirements to become a GISP can be found: Here

  1. Experience

Professional experience is not only a necessary requirement of a candidate’s Portfolio Review but also has proven to be invaluable in successfully passing the Certification Exam. Although a minimum of 4 years of practical experience is required, history has shown that candidates who have more than 4 years of professional experience in applied geospatial technology, principles and practices in a work setting tend to do better on some parts of the exam.

A more detailed description of the Professional Experience Requirements to become a GISP can also be found: Here

  1. Contributions

Contributions to the profession take many forms and are an important component of the GISP Certification and your career. Examples of this include white papers, conference attendance, presentations, professional association membership, publishing articles, maps, or other publications. All of these should be documented in your professional portfolio.  A membership is a professional association is the area most often used to achieve Contribution points.

A more detailed description of the Contributions Section & Requirements to become a GISP can also be found: Here