9 GIS Certifications (Plus Tips) to Advance Your Career

Many companies and industries use GIS to collect data and improve products and services, creating positions that require professionals to have advanced GIS knowledge and experience. GIS certification can improve your application material and show your knowledge and skills. If you work with GIS, it can be beneficial to learn more about relevant certifications and how to earn them. In this article, we explain what GIS is, list nine different certifications you can follow, and provide tips for choosing the best certification for you.

What is GIS?

GIS, or Geographic Information Systems, create and manage maps. GIS uses advanced technology to capture, store and analyze information about the Earth’s terrain. Cartographers, analysts and other professionals can use GIS to create maps and predict changes in terrain. GIS can also be useful in locating and tracking points of interest in cities and in improving navigation applications.

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Types of GIS Certification

Depending on your career path and position, earning a GIS certification can help you advance your position or increase your income. Many certifications require a fee and that you pass an exam before earning the credential. These are some of the GIS certifications you can follow:

1. ASPRS Certification

The American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing certification focuses on your competence, integrity, and knowledge. GIS technologists and many other professions can apply for this certification, as it applies to many professions in the remote sensing and photogrammetry industry. You can take the certification exam with online proctoring as long as you currently work in the industry. To obtain your credentials, you may be required to complete a written test and submit a letter of reference.

2. Esri Technical Certification

Esri offers a variety of certifications that include basic and specialized exams. Consider earning an Associate, Entry and Professional certification in the Core category and a GIS and Coding Language related certificate in the Specialty category. Many exams have 90 questions and you may have to pay a fee before enrolling. Before choosing an exam, consider your current experience level, skills, knowledge, and other certifications you may currently have.

3. Geographic Information System (GIS) Certificate

This Certificate from The University of Washing Professional and Continuing Education is an online program that usually takes about 9 months to complete. It is an education-based certification that focuses on cartography and GIS fundamentals. Students who enroll in this course can learn more about understanding raw data, scanning maps, conducting research, decision making, and land use planning. Environmental science, disaster preparedness and aerial photography are also part of this certificate course.

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4. Geographic Information System (GIS) Certification

The University of Houston’s Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences offers Geographic Information Systems certification to those who work with GIS. The program focuses on providing knowledge and skills for GIS users with an emphasis on geospatial applications. Those who complete this course and certificate can learn more about visualization, modelling, acquisition, storage and analysis.

5. Geospatial Intelligence Analytics

This graduate certification provides information and training to facilitate data analysis and communication. Those who complete this certification review content about analytics, science, and intelligence topics. You can learn more about remote-sensing systems and facilitation of GIS analysis and communication.

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6. GIS, Mapping and Spatial Analysis Expertise

This certificate from the University of Toronto focuses on practical skills and GIS knowledge. The certificate course includes an applied learning project in which you can apply GIS practices and data to your personal interests. In this course, you can learn more about working with satellite imagery, filtering data, and analyzing spatial relationships.

7. Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Science and Technology

The University of Southern California’s Dornsife Spatial Sciences Institute offers a graduate certificate in geographic information science and technology as an online program. This course can take 8 to 16 months, depending on whether you complete it full-time or part-time. During this programme, you can gain knowledge about spatial thinking, geospatial science and econometrics.

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8. Professional GIS Certificate

This Professional GIS Certificate is a 7-week professional development course by Michigan State University’s Department of Geography, Environmental and Spatial Sciences. During the course, you can learn more about introductory geospatial topics, GIS principles, remote sensing and cartography. The certificate includes online laboratories for direct experience and technical qualification. This course is best suited for professionals currently working with GIS or recent geology graduates who wish to improve their application content.

9. Remote Sensing and Earth Observation

This course at Penn State World Campus teaches students about drones, lidar, and satellites. The course focuses on how you can leverage data, collect information, use remote sensing, and understand terrain mapping. Students develop foundational knowledge in image analysis and GIS while completing assignments in a 12-credit course.

related: 10 careers to pursue with a geology degree

Benefits of GIS Certification

Depending on your career, experience, skills and current position, earning certificates can advance your career and potentially increase your earnings. These are some of the benefits of getting a GIS certification:

  • Learn new skills and specialties: Some certificate programs are education-based, which means you can complete programs and courses to earn certification. It provides you an opportunity to learn about new and more specific topics related to GIS.

  • Improve your application content: By listing certifications on your resume you can show your skills, knowledge and commitment to learning. You can also explain the skills and knowledge from your certificates in your cover letter.

  • Increase your job opportunities: Some employers may look for candidates with specific certifications, while others may prefer candidates without certifications.

  • Verification of your GIS knowledge: Certification is a great way to assess and verify your current GIS knowledge.

Tips for Choosing a GIS Certification

GIS certification can enhance your resume and demonstrate your commitment to learning and improving. Here are some helpful tips for choosing the GIS certification that works best for you:

  • Consider your current skill and experience level: Different certifications cater to people with different skill levels and varying degrees of experience. Before enrolling for a certification, consider your current level of experience and how the certification may impact your career.

  • Communicate with your manager or team lead: Consider scheduling a meeting with your manager to discuss your position and which certifications can advance your career or improve your chances of promotion.

  • Create and assess your career goals before choosing: Creating a career goal can help you understand what your ideal position is and how you want to specialize. Understanding your career path and knowing your goals can help guide you in choosing a certification.

  • Review material and test information: Many certifications provide a preview of the material they cover and how they assess your knowledge. If a certification uses a testing method that you are not excellent at, consider other certifications instead.

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