3,000 GISPs and counting – To GISP or Not? What Does It Mean To You?

Ok, there’s now more than 3,000 certified GISPs with 345 new certifications in December (according to this PR)  and more than 700 GISers rushed at the last minute to get their Grandfathering in applications in by December 31, 2008… so I have to ask, what does this mean to you?

To put in context, I’m not a certified GISP but I indeed do consider myself to be a GIS professional. I have a degree (BSc) in Geography and GIS and have been working directly with GIS and Geo Technologies since 1991 (9 years as a GIS Analyst – i.e.. GIS geek!) But should I (or should you)  be concerned at not having a "GISP" designation behind my name? Last year I did get all the application material required for being Grandfathered-in last year, however, I never found the lengthy amount of time required to complete the application package nor did I have the motivation to try and come up with the time. The concept is a good one but what’s likely up in the air is who exactly recognizes or will be recognizing this designation?

Indeed during my travels I am encountering more people each year that have GISP listed behind their name on their business card and I have seen a couple of GIS job postings where a GISP has been requested. So what’s your opinion on the GISP designation?

Interesting to note, a complete database of all certified GISPs is maintained online at the GISCI website. A quick glance of the list of GISPs in North America seems to indicate to me that a large number of people with "GIS Coordinator" titles/jobs have jumped on to get certified. Interesting as these are likely professionals that have a fair bit of experience (work and EDU) yet are wanting more credentials via the designation. Also of interest is that many of these people are government employees… once again, perhaps another group that is in need of more credentials.. or perhaps these people are getting more support from their employers who are encouraging them to obtain the GISP – some food for thought.

I asked some of my Twitter colleagues and drew several interesting responses… I’m not sure if its a coincidence but it seems that Twitter may be attracting GIS users that are nor huge fans of the idea of the GISP – or perhaps this is a common feeling…

Some responses (sources hidden):

  • It’s an interesting topic because it doesn’t hurt you to have but its not required most of the time. Get ur clearance!
  • I did not. It is irrelevant. If I see "GISP", what skill set can I assume you have?
  • I think GISCI is another self-serving organization. For me, I see no value in GISP certs
  • I personally don’t give it a whole lot of credibility at this point. Almost like being awarded an honorary degree
  • doesn’t apply here. Working towards a GISP the old fashioned way. Time in the industry is what is holding me back
  • I was grandfathered into GISP and I really don’t care about it. GISP doesn’t solve the "GIS Certified Professional" problem
  • I got certified a couple of years ago, not sure if it helps as Canadian businesses/govt are slow to adopt as far as I can see


Interesting responses, and I may add that most of these comments are coming from seasoned professionals. I would also have to say that I would likely have to agree with most of these comments. However, as competition heats up for jobs perhaps having an extra designation could be a tie breaker, my feelings though would be that if I were torn between several candidates for a hire that I would look for real life experiences and success using GIS and years of hands-on experience for practical applications. Indeed though, having another card in your hand can’t do any harm. For now though, I still don’t have the time available to do the vast amount of homework, research, and paper work to get my GISP designation.

From the GIS Certification Institute… What Is A GISP?

A GISP is a certified geographic information systems (GIS) Professional who has met the minimum standards for ethical conduct and professional practice as established by the GIS Certification Institute (GISCI)

See www.gisci.org 

GISCI GISP

What are your thoughts? Feel free to ping me glenn at gisuser.com or Twitter me @gletham.

Feel free to add your comment on this blog post



Seems that I’m not the only person who isn’t all for the GISP process. Check out this article on Geospatial Solutions by Peter Batty authored back in 2003… interesting!

Also of interest, URISA has just released a paper (Jan 14, 2009) providing comments on the draft Guidelines for Procurement of Professional Aerial Imagery, Photogrammetry, Lidar, and Related Remote Sensor-based Geospatial Mapping Services, as published by ASPRS – See HERE [PDF]

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Glenn is a geographer and a GIS professional with over 20 years experience in the industry. He's the co-founder of GISuser and several other technology web publications.


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