Certifiably geospatial

USGIF launches certification program

Concerned about the future supply of trained geospatial professionals, the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation, a nonprofit group based in Herndon, Va., has launched a certification program for universities and colleges.

According to Jordan Fuhr, communications director at USGIF, the problem isn't so much a current lack of current geospatial professionals as it is concern about the future. 'There is concern that down the road we may not have enough folks coming into this. It may not be as easy to figure out who is qualified.'

Fuhr says the certificate may or may not become an actual requirement for some jobs, but that 'it would certainly help in the hiring process.'

In 2005, USGIF formed under its USGIF Academy an accreditation panel of leading experts from academia, government and industry. Over an 18-month period, the panel developed standards for learning objectives critical for geospatial intelligence professional. Colleges and universities are now eligible to apply to accredit their courses and programs, Fuhr said. Students who successfully complete accredited programs will receive a Geospatial Intelligence Certificate from the foundation.

'There are a lot of programs that offer GIS certificates or geography certificates, but nothing that married those pieces together with the foreign-policy aspects or the historical aspects ' to really create something that was kind of all-encompassing for those going to work for companies or government agencies that specialize in geospatial intelligence,' Fuhr said.

Interest in the certification program is already high, Fuhr said. 'We're hearing some very positive feedback from schools. From the press release [issued on Aug. 8] we had about 22 schools show interest immediately.'

About the Author

Patrick Marshall is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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