I am wondering if others use their GIS SE site experience and time as forms of Contributions to the Profession, Education, and Experiences for obtaining and keeping their GIS Professional (GISP) certifications from the GIS Certification Institute (GISCI)?

For example, part of my job requires me to work as a help desk associate for clients. They call and ask how to do something in GIS, and I provide them answers. When documenting my job description in the GISP application, this role was essentially worth n amount of points.

Are we not doing the same as contributors on GIS SE?

Is there really a difference in the medium I provide that assistance?

No, I am not being paid to answer inquiries and provide assistance on GIS SE, but I do so for the benefit of the community. I also ask questions because I am aware of the value GIS SE provides.

I'm just interested in the community's thoughts on the topic.


5 Answers 5


I emailed GISCI several months ago to ask them specifically if GIS.SE contributions can be used for Contributions to the Profession, and the answer was basically "no (for now)." Here's the exact reply I received from Bill Hodge, GISCI Executive Director:

That is an excellent question and an area in which the GISP is behind the times. At present, we have no approved mechanism in place to allow for point contributions of the type you describe, and, in my opinion, we definitely should! This is an area where the Certification Committee will need to be convened and directed to address the entire area of social media used within the professional arena. Community threads, blogs, LinkedIn groups and activities, all are areas that are becomingly important in a professional capacity, and we must keep up with those areas. But, the official answer to your question is, currently, no.

  • 6
    In the meantime, I recommend that anyone from GIS SE considers starting to include those contributions in their portfolio but not to rely on them to make their minimum points. If you can refer to the equivalent clause that I identified in my answer from the GISP-AP Application then I think there is a reasonable chance that it would get approved and in any event that should start getting the GISP Assessment Panel acclimatized to that area of contribution.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Sep 12, 2014 at 8:37
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    No offence to anyone who's deeply invested in the whole GISP thing. But I wonder how much relevance this organisation has, if it needs to convene the certification committee to vote on this issue. Anyone who is participating in GIS SE is already ahead of the curve. I highly doubt that 1 extra GISP point will make a difference to your career or success rate.... Sep 15, 2014 at 6:11
  • It makes a difference when the 1 extra point is needed to get certified in the first place. Being a certified GISP is a bargaining chip to get a raise and an extra qualification to edge out other applicants for a job.
    – nmpeterson
    Sep 15, 2014 at 14:39
  • But raises the question with the effort you make on project/task not qualification or professional certificate. But it would give you an additional reason to be hired. Not sure our upper management even knows that GISP exists.
    – Mapperz Mod
    Sep 15, 2014 at 16:26
  • From the GISP FAQ: "Q: Will I get a raise if I get this certification? A: Maybe or maybe not. The likelihood of getting a raise increases as the stature of the GISP grows. Internal surveys of current GISPs showed the 7% received a salary increase while another 30% received either a one-time salary bonus or promotion. It should be noted, however, that urban and regional planners who became certified have been found to have salaries that are 27.5% higher than planners who are not certified, according to a 1996 survey by the American Planning Association’s Planning Advisory Service."
    – nmpeterson
    Sep 15, 2014 at 17:54
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    Fair enough, and good luck with that raise :) Personally if I was hiring someone, GISP certification would be an extremely minor factor. I'd be far more interested in their experience and demeanour. Sep 16, 2014 at 0:13
  • Right, I won't argue that it should be a major factor. But as a tiebreaker between otherwise equal candidates, in a highly competitive job market?
    – nmpeterson
    Sep 16, 2014 at 2:18
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    I don't mind sharing that when I earned my GISP, it did nothing for my job except give me something else to hang on the wall. No raise or promotion. There may have been a department email congratulating me on adding more letters to my signature block, but who knows. Prior to having my GISP though, I was asked in multiple interviews if I had plans on applying for it once I had the necessary credentials (I JUST made it to 5 years work experience this January). I will say 3 of those interviews were for teaching positions if that means anything.
    – evv_gis
    Sep 16, 2014 at 20:37

I planned to renew my GIS Professional - Asia Pacific (GISP-AP) certification with the Surveying and Spatial Sciences Institute (SSSI), which is modelled on and allied with GISP from GISCI.

Although, I would have had enough Contribution to the Profession points from other sources, I would certainly have placed my involvement with the GIS Stack Exchange at the top of that list because I think such a contribution falls squarely under:

Other Geographic Information, Sciences and Technology contributions (includes GIS Day type event organization or participation and various community contributions)

I would probably class it as:

7.3 Related Spatial Community Contributions

which accrues 1 point per year.

How to determine whether your/my contribution to GIS SE merits that 1 point per year will be up to the assessors so I would probably phrase it as something like years involved and reputation ranking over that period rather than bare reputation points.


I asked Bill Hodge, GISCI Director, this question again last week. Here is his most recent response as of 11/23/2015.

"...that is an excellent question, and I do consider that to be a worthy activity. The problem is whether or not the forums have some way to track and rate activity. If they do have some ability to show activity, then this would certainly count"

So given that GIS SE does track contributions on a user's profile, you can include these contributions on your GISP portfolio and receive points for them. To include GIS SE activity to the contributions sections to your GISP portfolio, I would suggest selecting category VIII. Other GIS Contributions and Type Y. Relate Community Contributions. It doesn't not seem that they have the point structure for these types of contributions defined yet, but add them to your portfolio regardless.

  • Thanks Jeff for getting a recent response on this topic. Looking over the varying responses, it's evident that GISCI is starting to be accepting of forum participation as contributions to the industry. Perhaps us members could formulate a point structure system to recommend to GISCI for tracking participation points.
    – evv_gis
    Nov 23, 2015 at 16:01
  • I think that is a great idea @evv_gis. Currently, 1, 2, or 3 points per year of active membership are possible using the categorization method I listed above. This points system is fairly consistent with how points are awarded for membership to professional organisations (URISA, ASPRS, AGU, etc), 1 pt. per year of membership, but this hardly seems to be an accurate way of representing the participation level of various users. Maybe we can suggest that points awarded by GISCI be a combination of ACTIVE membership years + total rep earned/year.
    – Jeff May
    Nov 23, 2015 at 16:15

Bill Hodge GISP,Executive Director GISCI has responded below in similar context:

1) Your online articles would each count towards Contribution points as equivalent to 'H' - Newsletter Article, 1 pt each. Your online publications are not at the same level as publication in a peer-reviewed academic journal.

2) You will not be able to receive pints for your Trade Secret classification.

Here is the extract of my mail to GISP authroties:

Under professional contributions, are the following valid : a. Can I take credit for my online article . ‘Rendering Shapefile in OpenGL’ is .GIS community uses it a lot and viewed by X number of people etc.......... b. ‘Generating Aesthetic Line Styles’ which is another contribution downloaded by more than xxx people. c. I have a Trade Secret on GIS usage in Avionics. Can I get a credit for that ?


So... nobody has answered the question. YES, it should. Your blog, SE, geonet posts are much more valuable than somebody's entry in Arc News or some other published material that nobody will ever read.

Do contributions to open source software count? Probably not. Should they? Yes. All of this more than 1 lousy point.

And all else being equal, I would not personally use the GISP as a tie breaker. I honestly wouldn't even ask you if you had a GISP, b/c it is 100% irrelevant to determining your knowledge/skills/ability/productiveness/potential. Might as well be putting down "proficient at MS Office, Excel"

  • I can appreciate your opinion in regards to what should count towards a GISP, however I would advise taking a more professional approach next time when providing a response. Opening your "answer" with an, albeit, incorrect remark that can come across as an insult to previous post participants is not, imho, the best approach.
    – evv_gis
    Sep 22, 2014 at 15:15
  • Simply clarifying that the question asks "should" not "could". I understand that post also asks "I am wondering if others use their forum experience and time as forms of Contributions to the Profession". The post also asks if these contributions are any different than contributions that would count. It's also clear that the post is looking for opinions: "I'm just interested in the communities thoughts on the topic." so that is what I gave. To the people who have gotten published, congrats, I'm not really putting you down, but it's not the only way to help the community.
    – JasonT
    Sep 22, 2014 at 19:10
  • I'm curious, you just got your GISP (evv_gis). You said it hasn't done anything for you externally. What has it down internally? Do you feel like you are a better GIS person than you were without it? Has it validated your career? Or, does it truly feel like a paper on the wall? (This is a serious question and is in no way meant to be demeaning to anybody). I just want to know what value you place on it.
    – JasonT
    Sep 22, 2014 at 19:17
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    Getting my GISP did do something for me both externally and internally. The point I made was it did nothing for my current position. Externally, I have been contacted about jobs numerous times, many referencing that they found my information when looking for a GISP. Internally, I would not say I feel like a better GIS person, but I do feel a sense of accomplishment. I think anyone who earns a certification or accolade because of their work experience, education and/or involvement in a related community should definitely feel a sense of pride for what they did (and continue to do).
    – evv_gis
    Sep 22, 2014 at 21:03

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