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Top 10 GIS Analyst Certifications

This article provides an overview of the top GIS Analyst certifications and their associated requirements for potential applicants.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 17 min read

Certifications are important for GIS analysts because they demonstrate a level of competence and proficiency in the field. Employers look for certifications when evaluating job candidates because they provide assurance that the applicant is qualified to perform the job duties. Certifications also provide validation of an individual's skills and knowledge, which can help them stand out from other applicants. Additionally, certifications can open up opportunities for career advancement as well as enable GIS analysts to stay abreast of new technologies and trends related to their profession.

The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the best GIS certifications available and explain how they can help GIS Analysts advance their careers.

What are GIS Analyst Certifications?

GIS Analyst Certification is a certification program offered by the GIS Certification Institute (GISCI). It is designed to recognize and promote excellence in geographic information systems (GIS) technology, and it is one of the few professional certifications available for GIS professionals. The certification offers an opportunity for individuals to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in GIS and related fields. By earning GIS Analyst Certification, individuals can demonstrate their commitment to advancing the use of GIS technology, as well as increase their job marketability and professional credibility.

The certification includes two levels: Certified GIS Analyst (CGA) and Professional GIS Analyst (PGA). In order to obtain CGA certification, applicants must have a minimum of 360 hours of documented experience with GIS software or data analysis; pass a written exam; and demonstrate proficiency with various types of spatial analysis. To obtain PGA certification, applicants must have at least 720 hours of documented experience with GIS software or data analysis; pass two written exams; and demonstrate advanced proficiency with various types of spatial analysis.

Earning this certification can offer numerous benefits for individuals seeking employment in the field of GIS. For example, having this credential may help an individual stand out from other applicants when applying for jobs or promotions within the field. Additionally, employers may view applicants who possess this certification as more knowledgeable and experienced when compared to those who do not have it. Furthermore, organizations that are looking to work with experienced professionals may be more likely to hire someone who has earned the credential than someone who does not have it. Finally, having this certification may open up additional career opportunities in both public-sector organizations as well as private companies that rely on GIS technology.

Pro Tip: When considering GIS Analyst certification, make sure to research the available options and choose one that meets your specific needs. Consider the type of skills and knowledge you need to develop in order to become a successful GIS Analyst, as well as the cost and time commitment associated with each certification program.

Related: What does a GIS Analyst do?

Top 10 GIS Analyst Certifications

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

1. Esri Certified Professional

Esri Certified Professional is a program offered by Esri, the world’s leading geographic information system (GIS) software provider. The program certifies individuals who demonstrate expertise in using Esri’s GIS technology to solve real-world problems. It is designed for professionals who are looking to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in GIS and related technologies.

The certification process includes an online exam that tests the candidate's knowledge of Esri products, tools, and processes. Candidates must pass the exam with a score of 80% or higher to become certified. The exam typically takes between 90 minutes and two hours to complete, depending on the individual's experience level.

To get started with the certification process, candidates must register for an account on Esri's website. Once registered, they can purchase a voucher code that allows them to take the certification exam. The cost of the voucher code varies depending on which version of the exam is being taken; however, it typically ranges from $100 - $150 USD.

Once a candidate has purchased a voucher code and scheduled their exam date, they will need to study for the exam by reviewing Esri's training materials and practicing with sample questions. After completing their preparation, they can take the online certification exam at any time before their scheduled date. Upon successfully passing the exam with a score of 80% or higher, they will receive an official certificate from Esri confirming their status as an Esri Certified Professional.

2. Autodesk GIS Professional Certification

Autodesk GIS Professional Certification is a certification program that helps to validate the knowledge and skills of professionals in the field of Geographic Information Systems (GIS). This certification is designed to demonstrate proficiency in the use of Autodesk’s GIS software products, such as ArcGIS, AutoCAD Map 3D, and InfraWorks.

The Autodesk GIS Professional Certification exam consists of two parts: an online assessment and a hands-on project. The online assessment consists of multiple-choice questions on topics related to GIS fundamentals, data analysis, cartography, and spatial analysis. The hands-on project requires candidates to design a GIS solution using Autodesk’s software products.

It typically takes about 6 months for candidates to complete the requirements for the Autodesk GIS Professional Certification. Candidates must first pass the online assessment before they are eligible to take the hands-on project. Once both components have been completed successfully, candidates will receive their certification from Autodesk.

The cost for taking the Autodesk GIS Professional Certification exam varies depending on your location and other factors. Generally speaking, it costs around $500 USD for both components of the exam.

3. GISCI Geospatial Core Technical Knowledge Exam

GISCI Geospatial Core Technical Knowledge Exam is a comprehensive exam designed to assess the knowledge of geospatial professionals. The exam covers topics such as GIS principles, data management, spatial analysis and modeling, and cartography. It is administered by the Geographic Information Systems Certification Institute (GISCI) and is required for certification as a GIS Professional (GISP).

The exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions and takes approximately three hours to complete. It is offered in both English and Spanish languages. The cost of the exam varies depending on geographic location but typically ranges from $150 to $200 USD.

In order to take the GISCI Geospatial Core Technical Knowledge Exam, you must first register with GISCI and submit an application for certification. Once your application has been approved, you will receive an email with instructions on how to schedule your exam at a testing center near you. After passing the exam, you will receive your official GISP certification from GISCI.

4. GISP (Geographic Information Systems Professional) Certification

GISP (Geographic Information Systems Professional) Certification is a professional certification program for individuals who wish to demonstrate their expertise in the field of geographic information systems (GIS). The GISP certification is administered by the GIS Certification Institute (GISCI) and is recognized as an industry standard for validating the knowledge and skills of GIS professionals.

To become certified, applicants must meet certain eligibility requirements and pass an examination. The requirements include having at least four years of professional experience in GIS, or two years of experience plus a college degree or equivalent education in GIS. Applicants must also agree to abide by the Code of Ethics established by the GISCI.

The exam consists of 150 multiple choice questions covering topics such as cartography, spatial analysis, data management, and programming. It takes approximately three hours to complete the exam.

The cost of becoming certified depends on whether you are an individual or a corporate member. For individual members, the cost is $400 for US residents and $500 for non-US residents. For corporate members, the cost is $1,000 per employee for US residents and $1,200 per employee for non-US residents.

Once you have completed all the requirements and passed the exam, you will be officially recognized as a certified GIS Professional (GISP). This certification can help you stand out from other job applicants and demonstrate your commitment to professional development in this field.

5. USGIF GIS Professional Certification

USGIF GIS Professional Certification is a certification program offered by the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF). It is designed to recognize individuals who demonstrate a high level of knowledge and skill in the application of geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) technologies. The certification program is open to all professionals, regardless of their current job title or experience level.

The USGIF GIS Professional Certification consists of two parts: an online assessment and an in-person exam. The online assessment is designed to test a candidate’s knowledge of geospatial intelligence concepts, principles, and practices. The in-person exam tests a candidate’s ability to apply this knowledge in practical scenarios.

The entire process typically takes about three months from start to finish. Candidates must first complete the online assessment before they can register for the in-person exam. After registering for the exam, candidates have up to six months to take it at one of USGIF's approved testing centers.

The cost of the USGIF GIS Professional Certification varies depending on whether you are an individual or part of a corporate organization. For individuals, the cost is $495 USD; for corporate organizations, it is $1,995 USD.

6. GIAC Geographic Information Systems Security Professional (GISSP) Certification

GIAC Geographic Information Systems Security Professional (GISSP) Certification is a certification that validates an individual's knowledge and skills in the area of GIS security. It is designed to demonstrate proficiency in the areas of GIS security, such as risk assessment, incident response, system hardening, and secure data management.

The GIAC GISSP certification requires a candidate to pass three exams: the GIAC GISSP-Security Essentials exam, the GIAC GISSP-Application Security exam, and the GIAC GISSP-Network Security exam. The exams must be taken in order and are available online or at approved testing centers. The cost of each exam is $499 USD.

In total, it takes approximately two months to complete all three exams and become certified. Candidates should plan on spending at least 40 hours studying for each exam. Additionally, candidates must have at least five years of experience working with GIS systems before attempting to take any of the exams.

The total cost for the entire certification process is $1,497 USD ($499 per exam).

7. Esri ArcGIS Desktop Associate Certification

Esri ArcGIS Desktop Associate Certification is a professional certification program offered by Esri, the world’s leading provider of geographic information systems (GIS). The certification demonstrates an individual’s knowledge and skills in using the ArcGIS Desktop software to create maps, analyze data, and solve spatial problems.

The certification exam takes approximately two hours to complete and consists of multiple-choice questions that cover a range of topics related to GIS and ArcGIS Desktop. Candidates must have at least six months of experience working with ArcGIS Desktop before they can take the exam.

To get certified, individuals must first register for the exam online through Esri's website. Once registered, they will receive an email with instructions on how to access the exam. After completing the exam, candidates will receive their results immediately via email.

The cost of the Esri ArcGIS Desktop Associate Certification Exam is $150 USD.

8. Esri ArcGIS Desktop Professional Certification

Esri ArcGIS Desktop Professional Certification is a certification program offered by Esri, the world’s leading geographic information system (GIS) software provider. The certification validates an individual’s ability to use and apply GIS technology to solve real-world problems. It is designed for professionals who are looking to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in a variety of GIS topics, including data management, analysis, cartography, and geoprocessing.

The certification process consists of two parts: passing the ArcGIS Desktop Professional exam and completing an online application form. To become certified, you must pass the exam with a score of 70 percent or higher. The exam covers topics such as data management, analysis, cartography, geoprocessing, and more.

The exam takes approximately four hours to complete and can be taken at any authorized testing center or remotely from your own computer. You will need to purchase an exam voucher from Esri in order to take the test. The cost of the voucher is $200 USD for non-members or $150 USD for members of Esri’s user community (ArcUser).

Once you have passed the exam and completed the application form, you will receive your official certificate within 4-6 weeks. You will also be listed on Esri’s website as an ArcGIS Desktop Professional Certified user. This certification is valid for two years from the date it was issued and can be renewed by taking the recertification exam every two years.

9. Autodesk Certified User: AutoCAD for Mac

Autodesk Certified User: AutoCAD for Mac is an industry-recognized certification program that demonstrates proficiency in using AutoCAD software on a Mac computer. The certification validates the user’s ability to create, edit, and manage 2D drawings and 3D models with AutoCAD for Mac.

The certification consists of an online assessment that tests knowledge of basic drawing commands, editing commands, layers and properties, dimensioning techniques, plotting and publishing, and 3D modeling. The exam is available through Autodesk's website or can be taken at a local testing center.

The exam typically takes about two hours to complete and costs $150 USD. To become certified, users must score at least 80% on the assessment. Upon successful completion of the exam, users receive their official Autodesk Certified User: AutoCAD for Mac certification from Autodesk.

10. Autodesk Certified User: AutoCAD Map 3D

Autodesk Certified User: AutoCAD Map 3D is an Autodesk certification program for individuals who demonstrate proficiency in the use of the AutoCAD Map 3D software. This certification is designed to help employers and other stakeholders identify those individuals who have a basic understanding of the software, its features, and how it can be used to create maps, drawings, and other visualizations.

The Autodesk Certified User: AutoCAD Map 3D exam consists of 30 multiple-choice questions that must be completed within 45 minutes. The exam covers topics such as creating maps from data sources, editing existing maps, using layers and styles to manage map elements, working with coordinate systems, performing analysis on map data, and creating custom symbols and labels.

To become certified in AutoCAD Map 3D, you must first pass the Autodesk Certified User: AutoCAD Map 3D exam. The exam is available online through the Autodesk website or through a local testing center. The cost of the exam varies depending on your location but typically ranges from $100-$150 USD.

Once you have passed the exam you will receive an official certificate of completion from Autodesk that will show your level of proficiency in AutoCAD Map 3D. You will also receive an electronic badge that can be shared on your social media profiles or websites to show off your new certification status.

Do You Really Need a GIS Analyst Certificate?

A GIS Analyst Certificate is an important credential for anyone looking to enter the field of Geographic Information Systems (GIS). GIS professionals are responsible for collecting, organizing, analyzing, and presenting geographic data. Having a certificate in this field can help a person demonstrate their knowledge of GIS concepts and technology, as well as provide evidence that they have the necessary skills to work in the industry.

The decision to pursue a GIS Analyst Certificate should be based on a person’s individual goals and needs. If someone is already working in the field or is hoping to become a professional GIS analyst, then having a certificate could be very beneficial. It can give prospective employers confidence that they have the right skills and knowledge for the job, as well as provide proof of completion of formal training. It can also give individuals an edge over other applicants who do not have a certificate.

On the other hand, if someone is simply interested in learning more about GIS but does not plan to pursue it professionally, then obtaining a GIS Analyst Certificate may not be necessary. There are many free online resources available that can teach people about the fundamentals of GIS without requiring them to invest time and money into obtaining a certificate.

In conclusion, whether or not someone needs to obtain a GIS Analyst Certificate depends on their individual goals and intentions for pursuing it. A certificate could be beneficial for those who want to work professionally with GIS data, while others may find that free online resources are sufficient for learning more about the subject matter.

Related: GIS Analyst Resume Examples

FAQs About GIS Analyst Certifications

1. What certifications are available for GIS Analysts?

Answer: Professional certifications in GIS include the Certified GIS Professional (GISP) from the GIS Certification Institute, Geographic Information Systems Professional (GISP) from the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS), and Certified Geospatial Analyst (CGA) from the International Association of Geospatial Professionals (IAGP).

2. How do I become a certified GIS Analyst?

Answer: To become a certified GIS Analyst, you must first meet the eligibility requirements set by the certification body. These typically include having relevant educational qualifications and experience in using GIS software. Once eligible, you can then apply to take an exam to prove your knowledge and skills related to GIS analysis.

3. How much does it cost to get certified as a GIS Analyst?

Answer: The cost of getting certified as a GIS Analyst varies depending on which certification body you choose. Generally, fees range from $100-$500 USD depending on the specific certification and any additional costs such as study materials or exam preparation courses.

4. How long does it take to get certified as a GIS Analyst?

Answer: The time it takes to get certified as a GIS Analyst can vary depending on your level of experience and how quickly you prepare for the certification exams. Generally, it can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years to complete all necessary steps for certification.

5. What are some of the benefits of being a certified GIS Analyst?

Answer: Being a certified GIS analyst can open up more job opportunities, provide greater recognition within your field, increase earning potential, and give you access to exclusive resources such as special training programs or discounts on software or hardware purchases. Additionally, being certified demonstrates that you have an advanced level of knowledge when it comes to using technology related to geographic information systems analysis.