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Top 11 GIS Engineer Certifications

This article reviews the top GIS engineer certifications available and provides an overview of their benefits and requirements.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 18 min read

Certifications are a great way for GIS engineers to demonstrate their expertise in the field and increase their marketability. Having certifications shows potential employers that an engineer is knowledgeable about the industry and has taken the time to learn more about GIS technologies and applications. Certifications can also help employers assess an engineer’s skill level, which can be beneficial when considering candidates for positions. In addition, certifications can provide recognition in the field and open up opportunities for advancement within organizations or career paths.

The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the most beneficial certifications for GIS Engineers, and how they can help advance their careers.

What are GIS Engineer Certifications?

GIS Engineer Certification is a professional designation awarded by the GIS Certification Institute (GISCI) to individuals who demonstrate expertise and proficiency in the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS). This certification provides employers with a way to assess and verify an individual’s knowledge, skills, and abilities in GIS technology.

Having a GIS Engineer Certification can help individuals stand out among their peers when it comes to job opportunities, as employers seek employees who have proven proficiency in GIS technology. It also allows them to demonstrate their commitment to the field of GIS, as well as their dedication to life-long learning.

In addition to increasing one’s employability, having a GIS Engineer Certification can also lead to increased salary potential. Employers recognize that certified professionals are more knowledgeable and skilled than those without certifications. Therefore, they may be willing to pay more for someone with this professional designation.

Finally, having a GIS Engineer Certification can provide individuals with access to exclusive events such as conferences and workshops where they can network with other certified professionals and learn about the latest advancements in the field of GIS technology.

Pro Tip: Always make sure you understand the requirements for any GIS engineer certification you're interested in pursuing. Research the available certifications and find out what type of experience or education is needed to qualify, as well as other requirements such as passing an exam or completing a specific number of hours of work experience. This will ensure that you are fully prepared when it comes time to apply for certification.

Related: What does a GIS Engineer do?

Top 11 GIS Engineer Certifications

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

1. Esri ArcGIS Desktop Professional Certification

Esri ArcGIS Desktop Professional Certification is a credential that demonstrates proficiency in the use of Esri's ArcGIS Desktop software. This certification is designed for GIS professionals who wish to demonstrate their ability to create, manage, analyze, and present geographic data using Esri's ArcGIS Desktop software.

The certification process consists of two parts: an online exam and a hands-on practical exam. The online exam covers topics such as GIS concepts, data management, analysis tools, cartography, and other related topics. The practical exam requires applicants to complete several tasks using ArcGIS Desktop software.

The entire certification process takes approximately 8-12 hours to complete. Applicants must first register with Esri’s website and pay the required fee before taking the exams. The cost for the certification is $150 USD for each part of the exam (online and practical).

Once applicants have successfully completed both parts of the exam, they will be awarded an official Esri ArcGIS Desktop Professional Certification certificate. This certificate can be used to demonstrate expertise in GIS technology to employers or clients.

2. Autodesk AutoCAD Civil 3D Certified Professional

Autodesk AutoCAD Civil 3D Certified Professional is a certification program designed to recognize individuals who have demonstrated proficiency in the use of Autodesk’s AutoCAD Civil 3D software. This certification is designed for civil engineering professionals and technicians, surveyors, GIS professionals, and other related disciplines who need to create and manage civil engineering designs.

To become certified as an Autodesk AutoCAD Civil 3D Certified Professional, you must pass the Autodesk AutoCAD Civil 3D Certified Professional exam. The exam covers topics such as design data management, surface modeling, grading and alignment design, corridor modeling, pipe networks, quantity takeoff and analysis tools. It is recommended that you have at least six months of experience using the software before attempting the exam.

You can take the Autodesk AutoCAD Civil 3D Certified Professional exam at any official Autodesk testing center or online through Pearson VUE. The cost of the exam varies depending on which version of the software you are testing for; however it typically ranges from $150-$200 USD.

Once you have passed the exam, you will be awarded an Autodesk AutoCAD Civil 3D Certified Professional certificate that is valid for two years from date of issue. After two years your certification will expire and you will need to retake the exam to renew your status as a certified professional.

3. Bentley Systems MicroStation Certified Professional

Bentley Systems MicroStation Certified Professional is a certification program offered by Bentley Systems, Inc., a global leader in software solutions for the architecture, engineering, construction (AEC) and operations industries. The certification is designed to demonstrate an individual’s proficiency in using the MicroStation platform for design, visualization and analysis. It is also intended to provide employers with assurance that certified professionals have the necessary skills to complete projects successfully.

To become a Bentley Systems MicroStation Certified Professional, individuals must pass two exams: one on general concepts and one on advanced topics. The general concepts exam covers topics such as basic navigation and editing commands, data management principles, and design strategies. The advanced topics exam covers more complex topics such as 3D modeling techniques, rendering tools, and animation capabilities.

The exams can be taken either online or in-person at a Pearson VUE testing center. To take the exams online, candidates must first register with Pearson VUE and pay an exam fee of $250 USD per exam ($500 USD total). In-person exams cost $300 USD per exam ($600 USD total).

Once both exams are successfully completed, candidates will receive their Bentley Systems MicroStation Certified Professional certificate from Pearson VUE. This certificate is valid for three years from the date of issuance and can be renewed by taking additional qualifying exams every three years thereafter.

4. Trimble Certified GIS Professional

Trimble Certified GIS Professional (TCGP) is a professional certification program designed to recognize individuals who have achieved a high level of proficiency in the use of Trimble's Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology. The TCGP certification program provides an opportunity for GIS professionals to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in the use of Trimble GIS products, services, and applications.

It typically takes around 6-8 months to complete the certification process. To get certified, applicants must first submit an application form and then pass a two-part exam that covers topics such as GIS fundamentals, data analysis, mapping techniques, and project management. Applicants must also provide proof of at least two years of work experience with GIS software or hardware.

The cost of the TCGP certification is $400 USD for the exam fee plus any associated travel expenses.

5. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Certification

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Certification is a professional certification that demonstrates an individual’s knowledge and expertise in the use of GIS technology. It is designed to help employers identify qualified GIS professionals who have the necessary skills to manage, analyze, and interpret geographic data.

GIS certification typically takes about six months to complete. The process involves taking courses or workshops in GIS fundamentals, software applications, spatial analysis, and data management. Most programs also include hands-on experience with GIS software and systems. Depending on the program, some certifications may require additional exams or projects.

To get certified in GIS, individuals must first find a program that meets their needs. A few popular programs are offered by Esri, Penn State University, and Oregon State University. Once they have chosen a program, they can register for classes or workshops and begin studying for their certification exam.

The cost of GIS certification varies depending on the program chosen and whether any additional exams are required. Generally speaking, most programs range from $500-$2,000 USD for tuition alone; however, this does not include any additional fees such as exam costs or materials fees.

6. Geospatial Intelligence Certificate Program

The Geospatial Intelligence Certificate Program is an online program designed to provide students with the skills and knowledge needed to pursue a career in geospatial intelligence. It is offered through the University of Southern California (USC) in partnership with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). The program consists of four courses, each lasting 8 weeks, for a total of 32 weeks.

The first course introduces students to the fundamentals of GIS, remote sensing, and cartography. Students learn how to interpret satellite imagery and aerial photographs, as well as how to use GIS software to create maps and analyze data. The second course covers advanced topics such as 3D visualization, terrain analysis, urban planning, and disaster response. The third course focuses on geospatial intelligence applications such as crime mapping and counterterrorism operations. Finally, the fourth course teaches students about geospatial intelligence tools and techniques used by government agencies.

To get the certificate program, students must complete all four courses within 32 weeks or less with a passing grade of B or higher in each course. The cost for the entire program is $3,500 USD plus any applicable taxes or fees.

7. Esri ArcGIS Server Administrator Certification

Esri ArcGIS Server Administrator Certification is a professional certification program offered by Esri, the world leader in Geographic Information System (GIS) technology. The certification recognizes individuals who have demonstrated advanced skills and knowledge in administering and managing ArcGIS Server systems.

To get certified, applicants must pass an online exam that covers topics such as installation, configuration, data management, security, scalability, performance tuning and troubleshooting of ArcGIS Server. The exam typically takes two to four hours to complete.

The cost of the exam depends on the country where it is taken; however, it typically ranges from $100 to $200 USD.

Once certified, individuals are recognized as having expertise in administering and managing ArcGIS Server systems. They will also receive a digital badge that can be shared on social media sites such as LinkedIn.

8. Esri ArcGIS Enterprise Administration Certification

Esri ArcGIS Enterprise Administration Certification is a professional certification program designed to help organizations use the full capabilities of Esri’s ArcGIS Enterprise platform. This certification provides an in-depth understanding of the architecture, components, and tools used to manage and administer an ArcGIS Enterprise deployment. It also covers topics such as configuration, security, scalability, performance tuning, and data management.

The certification is offered through Esri’s Professional Services division and can be completed online or in person at an authorized training center. The online course takes approximately 10 hours to complete and includes lectures, hands-on exercises, and assessments. The cost for the online course is $1,995 USD for individuals or $2,995 USD for groups of three or more people.

In order to receive the Esri ArcGIS Enterprise Administration Certification, you must pass a proctored exam that tests your knowledge of the material covered in the course. The exam consists of 40 multiple-choice questions that must be completed within 90 minutes. To pass the exam you must score at least 70% correct answers. After passing the exam you will receive a certificate from Esri confirming your successful completion of the certification program.

9. Oracle Spatial and Graph Database Administrator Certification

Oracle Spatial and Graph Database Administrator Certification is an Oracle certification program designed to recognize individuals who have demonstrated the knowledge and skills necessary to manage and administer Oracle Spatial and Graph databases. This certification is intended for database administrators, system administrators, developers, architects, and technical consultants who want to demonstrate their expertise in administering Oracle Spatial and Graph databases.

The Oracle Spatial and Graph Database Administrator Certification consists of two exams: 1Z0-095: Oracle Spatial 11g Certified Implementation Specialist exam, and 1Z0-096: Oracle Database 12c Advanced Administration. The first exam focuses on the installation, configuration, management, security, backup/recovery of Oracle Spatial 11g databases; while the second exam covers advanced topics such as performance tuning, troubleshooting, automation tasks with SQL*Plus scripting language, etc.

It typically takes about 6-12 months to complete the entire certification process depending on your prior experience with administering spatial databases. To get certified you must pass both exams with a score of at least 65%. You can register for these exams through Pearson VUE or Prometric testing centers. The cost of each exam varies depending on your location but generally ranges from $245-$295 USD per exam.

10. Oracle Spatial and Graph Developer Certification

Oracle Spatial and Graph Developer Certification is an Oracle certification program designed to validate the skills of developers who design and develop applications using Oracle’s Spatial and Graph technologies. It is intended for developers who have experience working with spatial data, developing applications with Oracle Database 12c or higher, and using Oracle Spatial and Graph tools such as Oracle Locator, Oracle Maps, and Oracle Spatial Studio.

The certification exam consists of multiple-choice questions that assess a candidate's knowledge of spatial data types, functions, operators, indexing strategies, optimization techniques, and more. The exam takes approximately two hours to complete.

To get certified as an Oracle Spatial and Graph Developer, you must pass the 1Z0-588: Oracle Spatial 11g Essentials Exam. This exam costs $245 USD. You can register for the exam through Pearson VUE or through your local testing center. Once you have passed the exam, you will receive your official certification from Oracle.

You can also take a training course to prepare for the exam. This course is offered by authorized training partners around the world and typically lasts 2 days in length. The cost of this course varies depending on the provider but usually ranges from $1,000-$2,000 USD.

11. Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate in GIS

Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate in GIS (MCSA GIS) is a certification program designed to help individuals demonstrate their expertise in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). This certification is ideal for professionals who want to demonstrate their ability to develop, implement, and maintain GIS solutions.

The MCSA GIS certification requires the completion of two exams: Exam 70-778 Analyzing and Visualizing Data with Microsoft Power BI, and Exam 70-779 Analyzing and Visualizing Data with Microsoft Excel. Both exams are available through Pearson VUE testing centers. It typically takes about three months of study to prepare for both exams.

In order to get the MCSA GIS certification, you must pass both exams within 12 months of each other. The cost of the certification varies depending on which exam you take first; however, it typically ranges from $150-$200 per exam.

Once you have passed both exams, you will receive your MCSA GIS certificate via email within 5-7 business days.

Do You Really Need a GIS Engineer Certificate?

The short answer is no, you do not need a GIS engineer certificate to be successful in the field of GIS engineering. However, depending on your career goals and the type of GIS engineering work you would like to do, a certificate may be beneficial.

GIS engineering requires a combination of technical skills and knowledge related to geographic information systems and spatial analysis. Having a background in mathematics and computer science can help with understanding concepts related to GIS engineering and developing algorithms for spatial analysis. In addition, having experience with software packages such as ArcGIS or QGIS can also be beneficial when working with GIS data.

While having the right technical skills is important for success in GIS engineering, it is also important to have strong communication and problem-solving skills. Being able to clearly explain complex topics related to GIS technology to clients or colleagues can make or break a project. Additionally, being able to identify problems or potential solutions quickly is essential for any successful GIS engineer.

Having a certificate in GIS engineering may provide an edge when applying for jobs, especially if there are many other qualified applicants vying for the same position. A certification can demonstrate that you have taken the time to study specific topics related to GIS technology and that you possess certain knowledge that could help you excel at a job involving GIS engineering work. Additionally, some employers may require a degree or certificate in order to qualify for certain positions.

Ultimately, whether or not you should pursue a certificate in GIS engineering depends on your career goals and what type of work you are interested in pursuing within this field. If you already have an adequate background in mathematics, computer science, and software packages related to GIS technology then earning an additional certification might not be necessary; however if these areas are lacking then pursuing additional education could be beneficial for your long-term career prospects.

Related: GIS Engineer Resume Examples

FAQs About GIS Engineer Certifications

1. What is a GIS Engineer Certification?

Answer: A GIS Engineer Certification is a professional certification that recognizes an individual's skills and knowledge in the field of Geographic Information Systems (GIS). It demonstrates that an individual has the technical expertise to design, implement, and manage geospatial data systems.

2. What are the different types of GIS Engineer Certifications?

Answer: There are multiple levels of GIS certifications offered by various organizations such as the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS), International Association of Geodesy (IAG), ESRI Global, and Autodesk. Depending on the level of certification, some may require additional coursework or experience in order to be eligible.

3. How long does it take to get certified as a GIS Engineer?

Answer: The time frame for obtaining a GIS engineer certification varies depending on the level of certification you are pursuing and how much experience you have in the field. Generally speaking, it can take anywhere from several months up to two years to complete all requirements for certification.

4. How much does it cost to become a certified GIS Engineer?

Answer: The cost of becoming a certified GIS engineer depends largely on which organization’s certification you pursue, as well as any additional courses or training required for eligibility. Typically, fees range from several hundred dollars up to several thousand dollars depending on the type of certification being sought after.

5. Are there any benefits associated with becoming a certified GIS Engineer?

Answer: Yes! Having a professional GIS engineering certification can open doors to new career opportunities and provide recognition within your field by demonstrating technical expertise in geospatial information systems. Additionally, many employers offer preferential hiring considerations or salary increases for those who hold valid certifications in their respective fields.