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GIS Certificate and Certification Program Overviews

GIS certificates cover topics such as spatial analysis, statistical methods and cartography and students learn and work with specialty GIS software. Following completion, individuals have the knowledge needed to pursue certification.

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Essential Information

GIS combines spatial analysis, data analysis and cartography. Individuals who study GIS are able to apply their skills to mapping the boundaries of land formations and natural resources. Most individuals enroll in a cartography bachelor's or master's degree program. However, some universities offer advanced one- to two-year post-baccalaureate certificate programs that cater specifically to GIS. Most of these programs require the completion of an internship. Voluntary certification is available through the GIS Certification Institute.


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  • Cartography
  • Geography

GIS Certificate

A GIS Certificate may be earned by students who already have a bachelor's degree in a related topic including cartography, geography, land surveying, and civil engineering. A GIS certificate enables the student to use geographical information systems with technical proficiency in a variety of professional fields. The GIS certificate includes both classroom lectures as well as hands-on experiments using professional software such as MapInfo and ArcGIS. Classes may include:

  • Cartography
  • GIS technology
  • GIS applications
  • Advanced quantitative methods
  • Graphic design in cartography
  • Web-based mapping

Popular Career Options

A GIS certificate can provide individuals with a skill that is valued in a variety of careers. Some of these include:

  • Urban or regional planner
  • Photogrammetrist
  • Cartographer
  • Spatial analyst
  • Remote sensing expert
  • Civil engineer
  • Imagist
  • Land surveyor

Continuing Education and Certification Information

Individuals who are especially interested in geographical information systems can apply for certification through the GIS Certification Institute. Once individuals have completed a GIS certificate program or training program, they are eligible to apply for certification. They must often demonstrate that they have acumen in the field by submitting transcripts of their work experience and a portfolio of their contributions to the GIS profession, such as publications or conference presentations. The certification acts as a credential, proving that individuals have the knowledge and skills to use GIS technology in the field.

After earning a bachelor's or master's degree, cartography students wanting to specialize in GIS systems may earn a post-baccalaureate certificate in GIS, and then apply for certification through the GIS Certification Institute.

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