I was wondering if someone could relate instances where being GISP certified helped : finding employment, getting promoted, drumming business up, noticed by your peers, the authority to sign off on deliverables, being the minimum requirement at your place of employment etc... ( for e.g a PE and a PMP help with these requirements)

This is an interesting thread http://www.thegisforum.com/forums/t/608.aspx?PageIndex=1

Is this a marketable certification? There is no test involved, its a review of your employment function, coursework and community participation as it pertains to GIS and if you make the cutoff you get to add GISP after your name. Go on a job portal and search GISP for all of US, you would find no or 1 at best returns. Its no where as respected as being a PE or PMP

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    It would be good to see this reformulated as an answerable question. I think there might be several of them here, depending on your thrust. E.g., what experience have people had hiring GISP's, what alternatives might there be, for what careers and at what stages might it be worthwhile seeking, etc.
    – whuber
    Commented Oct 21, 2010 at 4:47
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    I agree this is an unanswerable question as it's written. Mentioning the GISP certification on other forums has resulted in long diatribes by some who have strong opinions on the subject. If you're looking for one persons opinion (mine) you can take a look at this comparison of the GISP and AICP requirements: bit.ly/bRze3R. However, in the end I believe it all depends on each persons specific situation.
    – Don Meltz
    Commented Oct 21, 2010 at 11:19
  • +1 for the rephrased question. Please consider my vote to close removed (alas, the software doesn't allow me to take it back).
    – whuber
    Commented Oct 22, 2010 at 16:48
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    the thread linked to is gone (indeed the whole server appears to be awol). Commented Apr 21, 2011 at 19:21

9 Answers 9


I've not worked with anyone GISP certified and only been indirectly involved in hiring new staff, however I can relate that the general mood in our branch is "show us what you've done", e.g. a portfolio. We see a lot of people with letters behind their name who don't have much of an idea how to apply their school and seminar education to real work. Letters do help in initial screening but they don't land the job (in our organization).


From what I understand it is only available to the States. I would see it as a plus point on a CV, but in Eurpoe/Australia (and I imagine everywhere but States?) it is not recognised/required.

I imagine (for ESRI-related jobs) the new ESRI certification programme will begin to play a bigger part in candidate selection.

If you look at Oracle or Microsoft, it is nearly mandatory to be certified in the technologies for a lot of roles related to them.

  • Thanks for mentioning this, I wasnt aware of the ESRI certification program, sounds promising- can't wait for it to come out of beta
    – ved
    Commented Oct 23, 2010 at 18:29
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    The Australian and New Zealand equivalent is the GISP-AP and it is certainly recognised in at least some spatial job advertisements e.g. those from Qld Dept Transport & Main Roads
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Oct 27, 2012 at 7:29
  • Good to know, i might look into that.
    – jakc
    Commented Oct 27, 2012 at 10:44

I don't know that it will every carry any weight with people familiar with the GIS industry without having some sort of test (like the Esri certification program mentioned above). However, it does show, at a minimum, that the person has a certain amount of experience and education in GIS and that they've made the effort to get the certification. It doesn't take much to apply and it certainly isn't going to hurt how you look compared to other candidates, whether you are applying for a job or bidding for a contract.

I have started to see some companies advertising that they prefer GISPs, but I haven't seen any specific jobs or RFPs mandating it. My guess is that it's coming more from the HR side than the actual GIS management.

  • yes, i havent come across RFPs asking for it either, also a lot of the GIS certifications seem fragmented - I think what we will see in the next few years is that ESRI certifications gradually gain popularity and GISP wane.
    – ved
    Commented Oct 23, 2010 at 18:34

GISP certification is used by some HR depts as an initial filter on resumes/applications.
Useful tip: GISP a keyword. Even if you put "I do not have my GISP certification", you'll make it to round 2.

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    better than "I do not have..." would be something like "working on GISP certification". Even if you have little intention of going all the way, every hour spent working on GIS is going "towards certification" since experience counts in the cert process. Commented Oct 22, 2010 at 19:23
  • yes that is smart - but then again anyone could potentially put this for skirting keyword checks
    – ved
    Commented Oct 23, 2010 at 18:31

I believe it definitely helps. I am now in the process of obtaining this particular certification. (my application is currently being reviewed)

I personally screened, interviewed and hired 2 GIS technicians. If had an applicant with a GISP certification it would have been a huge benefit to him/her. I base this on the fact that I had to go through a similar application process with a similar IT organization with which a hold a comparable designation.

To touch on some comments with respect to the GISP certification; A person simply cannot obtain the GISP certification just out of college and with no have no experience. Minimum 4 years of full time GIS work is required. More experience will likely be needed if the GIS related tasks are less then 80%. Hence, GISP designation holders are seasoned, experienced professionals with sufficient educations and proven experience. The application process is very detailed and requires original documentation.

GISP is governed by GISCI, a professional organization to which holders of this designation must belong. As a member you subscribe to a code of ethics with which your professional practice must be consistent. (This is also similar to any other professional organization)

While GISP is completely different from the new ESRI certifications the two can happily co-exist. This is because GISP enforces re-certifications process whereby holders of this designation must continue to fulfill the certification requirements through a re-certification process. Ongoing full-time GIS employment, ongoing education as well contribution to the GIS community are essential in order to remain certified. Hence an ESRI certification would count towards GISP re-certification. Employers that knows this can easily check when the applicant become GISP certified and ensure that he or she is on a re-certification path by reviewing recently completed GIS courses, etc.

GISIC is based in the US but it is now trying to promote international involvement. There are many GISP in Canada. In fact there are GISP in 50 US states and 25 other countries. GISP accepts international transcripts and accommodates them by providing formulas for their "educational points" calculations. As far as I know it is the only specifically GIS professional organization in the world.


My past company also had' Desirable requirements: • Professional certification (General or Specialist (GISP-AP)) with the Surveying and Spatial Science Institute (SSSI)." And similar for 'CP' for ACS (Australian Computer Society)

While not a 'necessity' it helps define who keeps up to date by attending/participating in their industry's professional development.

Cheers, Peter


I suppose it depends on what you find valuable and who your employer is. 5-step pay adjustments, donuts, newsletter mentions.

It isn't recognized by my employer. I don't know that I would have applied for my GISP if I wasn't grandfathered in.


The equivalent certification to GISP in Australia and New Zealand is the GIS Professional - Asia Pacific (GISP-AP) which is recognised by GISCI and carries the same weight.

For a specific example of where this certification adds weight to a job application see this one from Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads which says:

Desirable requirements:
• Professional certification (General or Specialist (GISP-AP)) with the Surveying and Spatial Science Institute (SSSI)."


Infinitely more important than a GISP or ESRI "ArcGIS Desktop" certification is your university coursework and work experience. A quick search of major government job sites (e.g. USAJobs, AVUE) shows that the feds are not requiring or even asking for additional GIS certification.

GIS certifications are a means to improve you marketability as a job seeker. My advice is to highlight your abilities through instruments such as cover letters, online resumes and, perhaps most important, a GIS portfolio. An employer that can look directly at your portfolio and see actual examples of your end-products along with your programming and cartography examples will certainly weigh these over a certification. I would be skeptical about the statistics GISP or ESRI offers to sell their certifications.

Opinions vary, so here is an alternative view too: ESRI

  • You cannot obtain this certification without minimum 4 years of full time GIS experience and sufficient education. I will elaborate on this in my answer. Commented Oct 25, 2012 at 18:25
  • @Jakub From ESRI: "Obtaining an Esri Technical Certification is a simple process of preparing and registering for, then taking an examination." training.esri.com/certification/become.cfm. A GISP certification is more stringent.
    – Aaron
    Commented Oct 25, 2012 at 18:39
  • These 2 are pretty much unrelated but ESRI certification will count towards GISP. GISP is a professional designation of a professional organization. Commented Oct 25, 2012 at 19:05

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