How to Select a GIS Certificate Program

Geographers and other social scientists are increasingly using geographic information systems in their professional work. Any student considering a career that involves geography or anything to do with the earth (including archaeology) should consider taking GIS classes as part of their educational development.

There are a number of GIS certificate programs at schools and colleges throughout the United States. Students should learn how to find these certificate programs and how to choose one for their GIS training and education.

First, find out where these GIS certificate programs are offered. You can do this through URISA - The Association of GIS Professionals. Access the link in the Resources at the end of this article to see the list of current GIS certificate and degree programs.

Second, think about your overall degree and education plans. Are you going to be a geographer? Perhaps you want to be a cartographer? When you choose a GIS certificate program, think about your main goal first and then how to fit your GIS training into that goal.

For example, Arizona State University offers a Masters of Advanced Study in GIS program. This may or may not fit your personal needs. Someone seeking a geographer doctorate would not necessarily want or need to attend such a program. But for a college graduate that wants to specialize in GIS and assist professionals like geographers and archaeologists, this might be an ideal program to enhance your job prospects.

Another example would be Cayuga Community College. This school has an Associate of Science degree in GIS. Such a degree may allow you to get an entry-level job while completing your college education at a 4-year university.

Which GIS certificate or degree program you should seek to attend really depends on your overall educational objectives and life situation. But with so many community colleges and universities that offer a GIS education, you should be able to find a training program that fits your personal needs.

Resources:

URISA - The Association for GIS Professionals: GIS Certificate and Degree Programs

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