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.