County group endorses GIS certification

The National Association of Counties has endorsed a certification program for geographic-information systems (GIS) specialists.

The association’s GIS Committee issued a letter of support last month for the GIS Certification Institute’s certification program. The institute issues a GIS Professional certification to people who meet minimum standards for education, professional experience and contribution to the profession.

The association’s letter represents a general endorsement of the institute’s certification process, said Scott Grams, executive director of the institute.

Grams said any practitioner can claim to be a GIS professional, noting that GIS is an unregulated field. The purpose of certification, he added, is to “separate professionals – or GISPs – from casual users of the technology.”

To date, more than 325 GISPs work in county government, he said. County workers represent about 20 percent of the total GISP population.

State geographic-information councils have also shown interest in GIS certification. In 2004, North Carolina became the first state to endorse the institute’s program. Oregon’s geographic-information council has also endorsed certification, Grams said. Those were unsolicited endorsements, he added.

The institute, a nonprofit organization based in Park Ridge, Ill., now looks to get endorsements from five more states, and it has targeted six more to recruit after that, Grams said. The institute’s goal is to secure an endorsement from each state's geographic-information council.

More than 2,000 counties are members of the Washington-based National Association of Counties.


About the Author

John Moore is a freelance writer based in Syracuse, N.Y.

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