PE&RS September 2014 - page 823

September 2014
What is certification and why is it important?
There are a number of different types of certification
within the geospatial imaging profession. What cer-
tification is designed to do is to provide a measure of
competency of an individual or even an organization. In
the context of this question, I am referring to indicating
the minimum competency that an individual has to
perform within the workplace. This is different than ISO
(International Organization for Standardization) certifica-
tion which endorses manufacturing and service industries.
Certification also can be thought of as task specific (i.e.,
certified in a particular software or process) or general,
such as Certified Photogrammetrist.
Certification is important for a number of reasons. It
gives a potential employer an idea of what you as a new
employee should be able to do. It may offer the certified
individual a chance for promotion or a raise in pay. It also
demonstrated to peers that an individual is serious about
their profession and are committed to it. One of the aspects
of the ASPRS Certification program is that each applicant
needs to acknowledge the significance of the ASPRS code
of ethics.
How does certification differ from licensure?
Both certification and licensure are methods of credential-
ing but they are different. Licensure is codified by states to
regulate professions and industries to protect the public.
Licensure is a requirement to practice within a profession.
For example, surveyors and engineers are licensed by the
state. They must meet not only specific experience/educa-
tion but also pass an exam in order to practice.
Certification is voluntary and often is more specific than
licensure. For example, surveyors become licensed once
they meet all of the licensing requirements for that state.
This can change from state to state. But, a surveyor may
Robert Burtch is a Professor Emeritus at Ferris State University
where he taught photogrammetry, remote sensing and GIS/LIS
classes. He is a Certified Photogrammetrist and a Professional
Surveyor in Michigan. Since 1999 he has presented workshops
and webinars on certification exam preparation. He served as
president of the Michigan Land Information Exchange (mLINX),
the Michigan Society of Professional Surveyors (MSPS) and
Eastern Great Lakes Region of ASPRS. Bob has served as a
member of the Certification Committee since 1992, the Task Force
on the NCEES Model Law for Surveying as well as a number of
other committees in different professional organizations.
need to become a Certified Federal Surveyor (CFedS) to
work on Federal survey projects, even though, in theory,
they should have a knowledge about how Federal surveys
are undertaken.
Are there other organization that offer certification and
how does their certification differ from the one offered
There are a number of professional organizations offering
certification programs. Additionally, a number of vendors
as well as colleges and universities offer a myriad of
certification opportunities. For example, the Society of
American Foresters has a Certified Forester Program, the
Association of State Floodplain Managers has a Certified
Floodplain Manager official recognition, and the National
Society of Professional Surveyors has the Certified
Floodplain Surveyors program.
Three organizations deserve more consideration here.
First is the GIS Certification Institute (GISCI) certifies
GIS professionals. To meet the criteria the applicant must
have 150 points with a minimum of 30 in education, 60
in professional experience, and 8 in professional contri-
butions. The other 52 can be drawn from any of the 3
categories. Recertification is required after 5 years. There
are plans to implement an exam component in 2015.
The ACSM/THSA (American Congress on Surveying and
Mapping/The Hydrographic Society of America) has a
hydrographic certification program that is exam based.
The exam is 3 hours and consists of 160 multiple choice
questions drawn from a number of specialized areas
including specifications, positioning, seafloor imagery, etc.
Finally, the Canadian Institute of Geomatics also has a
certification program in a number of specializations. These
include photogrammetry, remote sensing, GIS/LIS, geod-
esy, cartography and geomatics manager. Certification is
good for 5 years.
about ASPRS Certification...
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