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Top 11 Geographer Certifications

This article provides an overview of the most highly-regarded geographer certifications available.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 19 min read

Certifications are an important credential for geographers in the job market for a number of reasons. First, certifications demonstrate a level of expertise and knowledge in a specific area of geography, which can be especially useful for those looking to enter into specialized fields such as cartography, GIS analysis, or environmental planning. In addition, certifications can provide employers with assurance that applicants have the necessary skills and experience to perform well in their desired position. Lastly, having certification from a recognized organization can also help to increase an applicant’s credibility and standing among potential employers.

This article reviews some of the top certifications for Geographers and explains how they can help to enhance a geographer's career.

What are Geographer Certifications?

Geographer certification is a program offered by the American Association of Geographers (AAG) that recognizes accomplished geographers who demonstrate a high level of professional excellence in their field. The AAG offers two levels of certification: Certified Professional Geographer (CPG) and Distinguished Professional Geographer (DPG). To become certified, geographers must meet certain requirements, such as having at least five years of professional experience in the field and demonstrating knowledge and skills through an oral examination.

The benefits of geographer certification are numerous. Certification gives recognition to accomplished professionals who have achieved success in their field. It also serves as a mark of distinction for employers, indicating that the individual has been tested for their knowledge and skills and has met or exceeded the standards set by the AAG. Additionally, certified geographers can take advantage of exclusive job opportunities, such as those listed on the AAG's website, which offer specialized positions within geography-related fields. Finally, becoming certified can provide opportunities for networking with other professionals in the field, which may lead to additional career advancements or even job offers.

Pro Tip: When considering geographer certification, be sure to research the requirements for each certification you are interested in. Many certifications may require additional education, training, and/or experience. Additionally, some certifications may have ongoing requirements such as continuing education or recertification processes.

Related: What does a Geographer do?

Top 11 Geographer Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Geographers today.

1. Certified Professional Geographer (CPG)

Certified Professional Geographer (CPG) is a professional certification offered by the American Association of Professional Geographers (AAPG). It is designed to recognize and promote excellence in the field of geography. The CPG certification is a voluntary program that allows geographers to demonstrate their knowledge, experience, and commitment to the profession.

To become a Certified Professional Geographer, an individual must meet certain eligibility requirements. These include: holding a bachelor’s degree or higher in geography or related field; having at least five years of professional experience in the field; and passing an examination administered by AAPG.

The exam consists of two parts: a written portion and an oral portion. The written portion focuses on topics such as physical geography, human geography, cartography, GIS/remote sensing, and geographic research methods. The oral portion requires applicants to answer questions about their professional experience and geographical knowledge.

It typically takes between six months to one year to complete the CPG certification process. Applicants should plan ahead for the exam by studying relevant materials and taking practice tests.

The cost of becoming a Certified Professional Geographer varies depending on the applicant's country of residence. In the United States, it costs $200 USD for members of AAPG and $250 USD for non-members. In Canada, it costs $300 CAD for members and $350 CAD for non-members.

2. Geographic Information Systems Professional (GISP)

Geographic Information Systems Professional (GISP) is a certification program offered by the GIS Certification Institute (GISCI). The GISP is a voluntary professional certification that recognizes individuals who demonstrate proficiency in and commitment to the field of geographic information systems (GIS). It is designed to promote the highest standards of professional practice in the use of GIS technology.

To become a GISP, applicants must meet certain requirements which include: having a minimum of three years of documented work experience in the GIS field, passing an exam administered by the GISCI, and demonstrating knowledge and understanding of ethical principles related to GIS.

The process for becoming a GISP typically takes between six months and one year. Applicants must first submit an application packet including documentation of their work experience, references from colleagues or employers, and payment for processing fees. Once approved, applicants are then eligible to take the exam. Exams are administered twice per year at various locations around the world.

The cost for becoming a GISP varies depending on where you live and how you choose to pay your fees. Processing fees generally range from $50-$100 USD, while exam fees range from $200-$400 USD depending on location.

Overall, becoming a GISP requires dedication and hard work but can be very rewarding for those who pursue it. It is an excellent way to show potential employers that you have achieved mastery in your profession as well as demonstrate your commitment to ethical practices in the field of GIS.

3. Certified GIS Analyst (CGIA)

Certified GIS Analyst (CGIA) is a professional certification program offered by the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS). It is designed to recognize individuals who have demonstrated a high level of proficiency in geographic information systems (GIS) and related technologies. The CGIA certification is awarded to those who have successfully completed an examination which tests their knowledge of GIS concepts, principles, and applications.

The CGIA exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions that must be completed within two hours. The exam covers topics such as cartography, spatial analysis, data management, programming languages, and system design. Candidates must demonstrate proficiency in all areas in order to pass the exam.

In order to be eligible for the CGIA exam, candidates must have at least two years of experience working with GIS technology or related fields. They must also provide proof of their education and/or training in GIS or related fields. Additionally, they must submit documentation that demonstrates their current knowledge of GIS concepts and applications.

The cost of taking the CGIA exam is $300 USD. This fee includes the cost of the exam itself as well as any applicable taxes or fees associated with it. After passing the exam, candidates will receive a certificate from ASPRS recognizing them as a Certified GIS Analyst (CGIA). This certificate is valid for three years after which time it must be renewed by taking another examination or completing additional continuing education courses.

4. Certified Geographic Information Scientist (CGIS)

Certified Geographic Information Scientist (CGIS) is a professional certification program offered by the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS). The CGIS certification recognizes individuals who have achieved a high level of proficiency in the use of geographic information systems (GIS) technology. It is designed to demonstrate an individual’s knowledge and skills in GIS, as well as their commitment to the profession.

In order to become certified, individuals must pass a comprehensive exam that covers topics such as GIS fundamentals, data management, analysis techniques, map production, and applications. The exam also includes questions related to legal and ethical issues related to GIS technology.

The CGIS certification process typically takes between 6-12 months depending on the individual's experience and preparation. In order to be eligible to take the exam, applicants must have at least two years of professional experience working with GIS technology or have completed an ASPRS-accredited GIS training program.

The cost of the CGIS certification varies depending on the individual's membership status with ASPRS. For non-members, the cost is $425; for members, it is $325.

5. Certified Remote Sensing Specialist (CRSS)

Certified Remote Sensing Specialist (CRSS) is a professional certification program offered by the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS). The CRSS credential recognizes individuals who have demonstrated a high level of expertise in the field of remote sensing. It is designed to help employers identify qualified professionals who are knowledgeable in the use of remote sensing technology, data analysis, and interpretation.

To become certified as a CRSS, applicants must pass an exam that covers topics such as image acquisition and processing, geographic information systems (GIS), digital photogrammetry, and remote sensing fundamentals. The exam is administered by ASPRS and typically takes about two hours to complete.

The cost for the CRSS exam is $250 for non-members of ASPRS or $200 for members. In addition to passing the exam, applicants must also meet certain educational requirements before they can be certified. These include having at least a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, such as geography or geomatics engineering; having at least three years of professional experience in remote sensing; and completing at least 30 hours of continuing education related to remote sensing within the past five years.

Once an applicant has met all of these requirements, they will receive their CRSS certification from ASPRS. This credential is valid for five years after which time it must be renewed by taking additional continuing education courses or passing an updated version of the CRSS exam.

6. Certified Cartographer (CC)

Certified Cartographer (CC) is a professional certification program for cartographers. It is designed to recognize and promote the highest standards of excellence in the field of cartography. The certification is administered by the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM).

To become a CC, applicants must meet certain educational requirements, pass an exam, and complete a portfolio review. Applicants must have at least a Bachelor’s degree in geography or related field with at least 24 semester hours of coursework in cartography or geographic information systems (GIS). They must also have three years of full-time experience in cartographic work or GIS analysis.

The exam consists of two parts: a written examination and a practical demonstration. The written examination tests knowledge of cartographic principles, techniques, and technologies. The practical demonstration requires applicants to create a map from given data using GIS software.

The entire process usually takes about six months to complete. There is an application fee of $150 USD, plus additional fees for the exam ($200 USD) and portfolio review ($50 USD).

7. Certified Geospatial Technologist (CGT)

Certified Geospatial Technologist (CGT) is a professional certification for those who work in the geospatial industry. It is designed to recognize and validate the skills, knowledge, and experience of geospatial professionals. The CGT certification is administered by the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS).

To become a Certified Geospatial Technologist, you must have a minimum of two years of professional experience in the geospatial field. You must also pass an exam administered by ASPRS. The exam covers topics such as GIS principles and concepts, remote sensing principles, geographic information systems applications, data analysis techniques, cartographic principles, and more.

The process to become a Certified Geospatial Technologist typically takes several months to complete. First, applicants must submit an application form and pay the applicable fees. Once accepted into the program, applicants must take an online training course that covers all of the topics on the exam. After completing the coursework and passing the exam with a score of 70% or higher, applicants will be awarded their CGT certification.

The cost to become a Certified Geospatial Technologist varies depending on whether you are an ASPRS member or not. For non-members, there is an initial fee of $200 plus additional fees for each course taken ($100 per course). For members of ASPRS, there is an initial fee of $150 plus additional fees for each course taken ($75 per course).

8. Certified Map Analyst (CMA)

Certified Map Analyst (CMA) is a certification program offered by the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM). It is designed to recognize individuals who have demonstrated expertise in the field of cartography, geographic information systems (GIS), and spatial analysis. The CMA certification provides a way for employers to identify those with the highest level of knowledge and experience in these areas.

To become certified as a CMA, an individual must meet certain qualifications, including having at least five years of professional experience in GIS or related fields. They must also pass an exam administered by ACSM that covers topics such as cartography, GIS, spatial analysis, data management, and more. The exam consists of multiple-choice questions and takes approximately four hours to complete.

The cost for the CMA certification varies depending on the type of membership you have with ACSM. For non-members, it costs $400 to take the exam; for members, it costs $300. Additionally, there are annual renewal fees associated with maintaining your CMA certification status.

Overall, becoming a Certified Map Analyst can take anywhere from several months to several years depending on your current level of experience and knowledge in GIS and related fields. After meeting all qualifications and passing the exam, you will be able to demonstrate your expertise in this field through this prestigious certification.

9. Certified Geodetic Surveyor (CGS)

A Certified Geodetic Surveyor (CGS) is a professional surveyor who has achieved the highest level of certification in the field of geodetic surveying. This certification is awarded by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) after passing a rigorous examination process.

The CGS exam consists of two parts: a written exam and a practical exam. The written exam covers topics such as geodesy, coordinate systems, mapping technologies, and GPS/GNSS principles. The practical exam tests candidates’ knowledge of geodetic surveying techniques, including boundary surveys, topographic surveys, construction surveys, and GPS/GNSS surveying.

In order to become certified as a CGS, an individual must have at least four years of experience in geodetic surveying or related fields. Additionally, applicants must be members in good standing with their state or provincial engineering or surveying board and have passed the Fundamentals of Surveying Exam administered by NCEES.

It typically takes up to six months to prepare for the CGS exam and receive results from NCEES. To get started on the path to becoming a CGS, individuals can review study materials provided by NCEES or take an approved review course offered by various organizations throughout the United States.

The cost to take the CGS exam varies depending on where you live but generally ranges from $500-$700 USD.

10. Certified Photogrammetrist (CP)

A Certified Photogrammetrist (CP) is a professional who has achieved a high level of proficiency in the science and art of photogrammetry. Photogrammetry is the science of making measurements from photographs. A CP is an expert in the field, capable of producing accurate and reliable results for mapping, surveying, engineering, construction and other applications.

It typically takes two to three years to become a Certified Photogrammetrist. The process involves completing an accredited training program followed by passing a comprehensive exam administered by the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS). This exam tests knowledge in photogrammetry principles, aerial photography, digital imagery analysis, GIS/GPS data collection, and more.

To get certified as a CP, you must first complete an accredited photogrammetry training program such as one offered at a college or university. After completing the program, you can then apply to take the ASPRS certification exam. The cost of the exam varies depending on where you take it but typically ranges from $200-$400 USD.

Once you have passed the exam you will be officially certified as a CP and will receive your certificate from ASPRS. You will also need to maintain your certification by completing continuing education credits every five years in order to remain active as a CP.

11. National Council for Geographic Education Certification in Geography Teaching

The National Council for Geographic Education Certification in Geography Teaching is a professional certification program designed to recognize the highest standards of teaching excellence and professional development in geography. It is intended to serve as a mark of distinction for teachers who demonstrate their commitment to the profession and their dedication to providing quality instruction in geography.

The certification process involves completing an application, submitting letters of recommendation, and passing a comprehensive written examination. The exam covers topics such as physical geography, human geography, cartography, GIS (Geographic Information Systems), and geographic education theory and practice. The exam takes approximately two hours to complete.

In order to be eligible for the certification, applicants must have at least three years of teaching experience in the field of geography or related fields. They must also have completed at least 18 semester hours of college-level coursework in geography or related fields.

The cost for the certification is $175 USD plus applicable taxes and fees. This fee includes the cost of taking the exam as well as any additional materials needed for review prior to taking the exam.

Do You Really Need a Geographer Certificate?

The answer to this question depends on your individual career goals. If you are seeking a job in the field of geography, then a certificate may be beneficial or even necessary. However, if you are already employed in a related field, such as planning or environmental science, then it may not be essential to obtain a geographer certificate.

For those interested in pursuing further education and training in the field of geography, a certificate can offer many advantages. This includes gaining expertise on specific topics within the discipline, such as GIS (Geographic Information Systems), cartography, remote sensing or hydrology. Moreover, a geographer certificate provides recognition of your knowledge and skills in the field and can open doors to new job opportunities or promotions. It also reflects your commitment to learning and professional development which can be attractive to employers.

Nonetheless, there are some drawbacks associated with obtaining a geographer certificate. First of all, it can be expensive and time consuming to complete an accredited program that meets the requirements for certification. In addition, it may not always be easy to find programs that offer certificates since they tend to be less popular than degree programs. Finally, depending on your current job and level of experience in the field, the additional knowledge gained from obtaining a geographer certificate may not always have an immediate impact on your career prospects.

Ultimately it is up to you to decide if getting certified is worth the effort and expense involved. However, consider that having an extra qualification could give you an edge when competing for jobs against other qualified candidates who do not possess one. Therefore if you are looking for ways to expand your knowledge base and improve your chances at success in the workplace then obtaining a geographer certificate might just be worth considering after all!

Related: Geographer Resume Examples

FAQs About Geographer Certifications

1. What are the requirements for becoming a certified geographer?

Answer: The requirements for becoming a certified geographer vary by country, but generally include a bachelor’s degree in geography or related field and professional experience. In some cases, additional education or experience may be required.

2. How long does it take to become a certified geographer?

Answer: The amount of time it takes to become a certified geographer depends on the individual's level of experience and educational background. Generally, it can take several years to become certified.

3. How much does certification cost?

Answer: The cost of certification varies depending on the organization offering the certification and any fees associated with taking exams or submitting an application.

4. What benefits do I receive when I am certified as a geographer?

Answer: Being certified as a geographer can give you an edge in the job market, as employers may view your credentials favorably. Additionally, certification can also lead to higher salaries and more opportunities for advancement within your chosen field.

5. Are there any continuing education requirements associated with certifications?

Answer: Yes, most certifications require that you keep up with industry developments by completing continuing education courses or attending seminars periodically in order to maintain your certification status.