What is a GISP?
By Sarah Schrader, GIS Specialist for Goodhue County, Future GISP
If you attended the GIS/LIS Consortium Conference this fall, you may have noticed a GISP pamphlet within your registration folder. “What is a GISP?” is the big question printed at the top of this pamphlet and is also the question I heard many people ask during the conference. According to the GIS Certification Institute, “A GISP is a certified Geographic Information Systems Professional who has met the minimum standards for ethical conduct and professional practice as established by the GIS Certification Institute (GISCI).” Sounds good… but now what is the GISCI?
In 1999, URISA’s Certification Committee was formed and after several years of discussion and the creation of a pilot program, a portfolio-based certification program was finalized in 2003. This program includes minimum standards for educational achievement, professional experience, and manner in which the applicant has contributed back to the profession. Along with a GIS Code of Ethics, the program was adopted by the GIS Certification Institute and is the basis for GISP certification.
GISCI is the certifying body and was created in January 2004 as a federation of GIS professional associations capable of representing the broad spectrum of the profession. GISCI member organizations include URISA, AAG (Association of American Geographers), UCGIS (University Consortium for Geographic Information Science) and NSGIC (National States Geographic Information Council). Other GIS-related professional associations focus on the application of GIS to a specific discipline or sector of private/public practice. As such, no one association has had the perspective necessary to thoroughly and completely define the profession, until now.
It has been almost three years since the launch of the GISP certification program and there are already 1,289 GISPs (as of September 25, 2006) throughout the U.S. and around the world. Of that number, there are currently 13 GISPs from Minnesota.
What are the benefits of becoming certified through the GISCI? While you should not hold your breath for a ticker-tape parade, there are many benefits to becoming certified. Many recently-certified GISPs were surveyed by the GISCI and many stated that they received some type of acknowledgement from their employer regarding their certification. Many organizations also paid or reimbursed their staff for the application fee ($250). Some GISPs even reported receiving a pay raise after they were certified. Beyond the tangible benefits, there are other advantages for becoming a GISP. Art Kalinksi, GISP from the pilot program, says that “for many of us, the certification is not needed to get a job. What the certification does is underscore our experience and permit us to speak with greater credibility regarding GIS issues.” (source: www.gisci.org)
Did you know that involvement with the Consortium counts towards points for GISP certification? Just by being a member and attending our annual conference, you will gain points towards certification. You can also submit a newsletter article or volunteer on one of the many Consortium sub-committees, or as an instructor or presenter for either the spring workshops or fall conference. For more information on how to get involved in Consortium activities, go to www.mngislis.org
The GISP program has been in development since 1999 to develop standards for certification. The new program has many benefits for GISPs regarding career development. For more information, check out the GISCI website at www.gisci.org. This website offers a wealth of information. In addition to details about the certification program and the application process, there are FAQs and testimonials from current GISPs.
The GISP certification program is an important new tool for progressing in your GIS career. Regardless of whether you decide to take advantage of it, your professional development and involvement in GIS-related activities are important and help improve the GIS profession.
The source for much of this article was: www.gisci.org For more information, see that website or contact Sarah Schrader at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-385-3193.