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Thread: GIS certificate programs

  1. #1
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    GIS certificate programs

    How can I find out (short of browsing through the website of every college and university in the country) which institutions offer GIS certificate programs? Is there any reputable institution that offers it online?
    Also, how many jobs in this field are there to be found? Is it a few dozen in the entire country? Hundreds? Thousands?
    Thanks in advance for the information.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian JimPlans's avatar
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    OK, I'll bite:

    Google "GIS Certificate Programs" and click on the very first link that isn't an ad.

    There are many, many GIS programs out there. Do some research on what each one offers and make sure you know what you want to learn before coughing up your cash.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian FueledByRamen's avatar
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    Google "GIS Jobs" and click on the very first link that isn't an ad.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian JimPlans's avatar
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    Also, it's always helpful to check out the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    The section on Surveyors, Cartographers, Photogrammetrists, and Surveying and Mapping Technicians has information on empliyment in the field.

    BTW, the section on Urban and Regional Planners is also interesting.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    UC-Riverside has GIS Summer School in which you can complete a year long certificate program in only 8 weeks:
    http://www.extension.ucr.edu/sciences/geo/summer.html
    It's very reputable. A lot of folks that teach it also work for ESRI.

    My recollection is that Penn State has an online program:
    http://www.worldcampus.psu.edu/MasterinGIS.shtml

    It has been a few years since I looked it up, but I think this is the other online certificate program I was in interested in at one time:
    http://college.usc.edu/gist/certificate/index.cfm

  6. #6
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    Thank you all! What I was wondering, though, is whether there is a program in which someone can enroll who hasn't had any GIS experience before and that results in certification in the end.

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    And I also wondered, what are the exact job titles to which a GIS certificate may lead?

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    Quote Originally posted by Akrido View post
    And I also wondered, what are the exact job titles to which a GIS certificate may lead?
    A GIS certificate by itself? With no experience or additional education?

    Hmmm. Fry cook at McDonald's is the first thing that comes to mind.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian JimPlans's avatar
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    I'm reading "certification" and "certificate" in your comments, and it seems like you're using the terms interchangeably. I don't think they mean the same thing.

    A GIS certificate would be for a short course (less than a year, if not much less) that teaches the basics of GIS and how to use a certain GIS program. Having that certificate would mean that you know how to do basic GIS tasks.

    A GIS certification is given out by organizations like the GIS Certificaton Institute (http://www.gisci.org/) and means that you have substantial education and real-world experience in GIS.

    So, getting a GIS certificate will not make you a certified GIS professional.

    Having a GIS certificate would possibly get you a low-paying, entry-level job in a firm that does light- to medium-weight GIS analysis, like a surveying or planning firm. However, in this economy you would be competing with many other people who may have bachelor's degrees or higher, along with experience doing GIS analysis, so by itself it's probably not enough. If you have some sort of a bachelor's degree related to sociology, politics, or earth sciences, and you're trying to get a planning-related GIS job, then a GIS certificate could be an edge on the competition if you already have other desirable skills.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    I got my GIS certificate from UC-Riverside with zero GIS experience beforehand.

    No, it is not the same thing as a certification.

    Yes, I have an entry level job that an 18 year old high school grad can get (and I've had coworkers on my team that fit that description).

    I heard very good things about the job prospects for folks who got a certificate from UC-Riverside. My understanding is that it is very well respected and that most folks who get it go on to well paid, cool GIS careers.

    Remember: I had a serious health crisis which made me unemployable for a long time. When I was well enough to work, I took the first job offer I got. I've been there ever since. Just saying: A certificate in GIS is not a magic wand and doesn't by itself do great things for you -- same as any sheepskin. I dropped out of college around the time I turned 20, inspired by two middle-aged men who had scads of education and delivered newspapers for a paycheck (one of them later sold shoes). They each had a Bachelor's. One was pursuing his second bachelor's, which (last I heard) he never finished and remained about 6 months short of completing. The other was, similarly, about 6 months short of his Master's. I figured I could deliver newspapers without a college degree -- and be money ahead for not owing student loans. My conclusion was that it is a myth that a college degree can give you a career. It takes something more than that, like some drive and a clue what you want to do with your life.

    Just my 2 cents.

  11. #11

    GIS certificate

    I'm taking a course through University of West Florida right now. It is a one year course that consists of 7 classes giving you 24 credits. It only starts in Jan and goes to Dec. It is completely online but it is tough. I spend all my time not at work doing homework.

  12. #12
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    Sorry for mixing up "certificate" and "certification."

    I am looking at the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association site now, and they list a lot of places that offer a certificate program, but, as I was told on this forum earlier, it is better to get a Bachelor's right away, or so I understood. Again, no place near me offers such a degree, so I have to find some place that offers it online. Something called the American Sentinel University has a Bachelor's in GIS online, but I have to know more about it before I apply there.

    Was it hard to get into the West Florida program? How long does the whole degree take to complete there?

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    If you want to go for a bachelor's degree, why would you "pegion" hole yourself into GIS? Might as well spend the money getting a more flexible degree and just add in the certificate if your really that into it.
    No Signature Required

  14. #14
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    I already have a Bachelor's degree that is fairly flexible and am now trying to break into a career in regional and urban planning. So do you suggest that I now add a certificate in GIS?

  15. #15
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    Michele -
    Wow. Health crisis are hard. (I'm stuggling now, but able to work.) And there are master's level people living on the street. No argument at all with this. -But as someone who has a BS in a field unrelated to my work, -please consider a degree. Without mine, I would make far less. Likely half of what I make per hour.

    Having said this, I am looking at a change in careers and so looking at various schools, including UCR. Thanks for mentioning it. Wish I were a CA resident! About $14k more per year for non-res.! Ugh. Oregon is gray...

    *Has anyone heard anything positive (or maybe more importantly, negative) about Univ. of Oregon, Oregon State, Southern Oregon Univ., or, especially **Portland State Univ.**?


    Quote Originally posted by Michele Zone View post
    I got my GIS certificate from UC-Riverside with zero GIS experience beforehand.

    No, it is not the same thing as a certification.

    Yes, I have an entry level job that an 18 year old high school grad can get (and I've had coworkers on my team that fit that description).

    I heard very good things about the job prospects for folks who got a certificate from UC-Riverside. My understanding is that it is very well respected and that most folks who get it go on to well paid, cool GIS careers.

    Remember: I had a serious health crisis which made me unemployable for a long time. When I was well enough to work, I took the first job offer I got. I've been there ever since. Just saying: A certificate in GIS is not a magic wand and doesn't by itself do great things for you -- same as any sheepskin. I dropped out of college around the time I turned 20, inspired by two middle-aged men who had scads of education and delivered newspapers for a paycheck (one of them later sold shoes). They each had a Bachelor's. One was pursuing his second bachelor's, which (last I heard) he never finished and remained about 6 months short of completing. The other was, similarly, about 6 months short of his Master's. I figured I could deliver newspapers without a college degree -- and be money ahead for not owing student loans. My conclusion was that it is a myth that a college degree can give you a career. It takes something more than that, like some drive and a clue what you want to do with your life.

    Just my 2 cents.

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