Monday, September 22, 2014

The emergence of GIS qualifications and their effects on GIS jobs

Careers in GIS are an interesting phenomenon because the field is still relatively new, yet the demand for GIS work is high.  As such, there are heated deliberations over what constitutes a “GIS professional”.  DiBiase thinks that a “GIS Professional [is] someone who makes a living through learned professional work (see table below) that requires advanced knowledge of geographic information systems and related geospatial technologies, data, and methods” (1).

Bill Huxhold was a GIS professional in the nineties who promoted creating a system of qualifications to be called a GIS professional.  Huxhold protests were heard, as he eventually convinced the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) to establish a certification committee to study the problem.  His ideas became popular in the GIS community as well.

 As you can see on the table above, GIS jobs are rapidly growing and is a high-demand job.  This was partially due to the establishing of qualifications for GIS professionals (which is anyone who uses GIS to make a living).  “In 2010, DOLETA issued a Geospatial Technology Competency Model (GTCM) that identifies the specialized knowledge and abilities that successful geospatial professionals possess” (4).  Employers, students, and educators can all use the tool for their own purposes.  Now there are multiple certifications GIS professionals can acquire, such as the GISP, that signify to employers that the GIS professional has the correct skill level.

DiBiase, David.  2012. “Strengthening the GIS Profession” ArcNews.


  1. This is interesting information. The fact that there are qualifications being implemented tells us that GIS is becoming more realized as a legitimate field. Do you know why the fields for cartographers and photogrammetrists are growing the fastest? I'm curious.

  2. This is extremely interesting to read now that I am in a GIS course. It's good that Mr. Huxhold pushed for the creation of a system of qualifications in order to be called a GIS professional. Like other professions, it seems like it would be ridiculous to not have qualifications for the profession, and it is interesting to see how his idea changed things in the GIS environment. I also wonder why mapmakers are the most growing of the GIS jobs.

    1. Interesting comment, the other side of this argument argues that map making should be protected under the first amendment to the constitution with the freedom of expression.