GIS Certificate

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GIS Certificate: Deterrents

The major deterrents preventing Canadian students from pursuing a GIS certification after high school include limited opportunities for entry-level jobs in GIS and the preference companies have for seasoned professionals. There was, however, no information available in the public domain on the most popular places that high school students used to get information about their college options. Below is an overview of the information that was available.


  • The internship or summer student positions and entry-level positions for GIS-certified individual have limited opportunities.
  • Many companies often want to avoid risks and prefer a seasoned professional over an inexperienced young worker.
  • The GIS positions that are available, especially for professionals with less experience, are short-term contracts or part-time only.
  • Currently, few jobs list GIS certification as a requirement.


  • Geography: Students from more remote areas often have to migrate over a great distance in order to attend college or university. The distance they have to travel affects the cost for relocating and commuting, thus, the farther they live the higher the costs.
  • Socioeconomic status of parents: Low income also prevents students from attending post-secondary education. On average parents in the northern parts of Canada earn less than those in the southern parts. This impacts students' decision to pursue a GIS certificate or any other certification, as tuition and other costs of further education are high and continuously increasing.
  • Family attitudes and traditions with regard to education prospects: Children from parents who have pursued a post-secondary education are likely to attend a college or university. In the past, young men would traditionally get a job in the mining, forestry or agriculture industry (northern Ontario's mainstay industries) and young women would stay at home.

Research Strategy

To provide an overview of the most popular places that high school students use to get information about their college options, we first we searched for articles and blogs on the subject matter. However, we were unable to find information on the topic for both Ontario or Canada. Next, we searched for scholarly articles, case studies, and statistics. Yet this yielded no results. Afterward, we searched through social media sites (such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube) to locate public posts on where students search for information on their college options. We observed if any posts on the subject matter were popular or went viral. While some posts were relevant to the subject matter, they were posted by specific schools, programs, events, or foundations targeting incoming/prospective college students. This, however, did not provide insight on which was the popular source where students get their information from.
Next, we searched for tools that could have been used to find a college. Technical websites (such as G2 Crowd and Capterra) provide articles and reviews on tools that can be used. Although there are numerous software and apps available that provide college updates and information, not enough data is available to compare them and determines the most popular source of information. In addition, some are committed to or focused on specific countries only, like that of
In short, the results found only gave relevant information for new applicants to college. Government and high school websites also provided only information on things like their offerings, the requirements, and procedures for incoming college students. None provide information on the most popular places that high school students used to get information on their college options.

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GIS Certificate: Motivations

Some major reasons that push high school students in Ontario to add a certificate to their undergraduate program include 1) to get official recognition, 2) to improve job prospects, 3) to differentiate themselves, 4) to get specialized professional development, 5) more career opportunities, 6) availability of part-time options, and 7) distance learning options.

1. To get official recognition

2. To get specialized professional development

3. More career opportunities

4. Availability of part-time options

  • Part-time GIS certification sessions are open for pupils that are unable to manage full-time courses due to their hectic schedule, such as the Ryerson Certificate in Applied Digital Geography of Ryerson University, Ontario.

5. Availability of distance learning options

6. To improve job prospects

7. To differentiate themselves from the application pool

Research Strategy:

Our research began by searching for any mention of the reasons that students in Ontario seek certification courses, especially in the GIS field. We explored student blogs and credible magazines/journals dedicated to students such as The Quest and The Ontarian. However, we were unable to locate any such articles that directly address this topic.

We then directed our search towards colleges and universities in Ontario that offer GIS certification courses, hoping that we could find relevant information. We searched through the official websites of Conestoga, Ontario Learn, and the Canadian Institute of Geomatics, among others. Nonetheless, we could only extract the advantages/benefits of the GIS courses provided by those institutes.

We assumed that the advantages/benefits of GIS courses are what push students in Ontario to add a GIS certification. With this strategy, we were able to list up to five reasons. Additionally, we analyzed websites for GIS certificates, without limiting to Ontario, to support our findings, including Esri and GISGeography, which are accepted globally. Also, we examined the benefits of general certification courses in Ontario, which also include GIS courses, using the websites of colleges in Ontario, such as Ontario Learn.

Besides facts that support our previous findings, we could also list two additional reasons using the same assumption. Again, we sought the GIS certifications of colleges in Ontario and its job market to ensure that the speculations are also applicable for GIS certifications for students in the region.


From Part 01
  • "Lead author David Zarifa identified three major challenges for northern students when it comes to accessing post-secondary education: geography, the socioeconomic status of parents, and family attitudes regarding education prospects."
  • "But students from more remote areas are often forced to migrate hundreds of kilometres to attend college or university. And the farther they have to travel, Zarifa says, the higher the costs of relocating and commuting."
  • "Low income is another well-established barrier to participation in post-secondary education, and the parents of northern students earn less money on average than their counterparts in southern regions. According to Statistics Canada data from 2015, the median household income in northeastern Ontario was $64,000, compared with $74,000 for the province as a whole."
  • "As well, parents who have pursued post-secondary education are more likely to encourage their children to follow in their footsteps, Zarifa says. But David Robinson, a professor of economics at Laurentian University, notes that many northern Ontario families don’t have a history of sending children to pursue degrees and diplomas — a fact that can partly be explained by the region’s economic past."
  • "“[For] people from working-class origins, especially up until the ’60s, it was unusual for them to get a chance to go to university,” Robinson says. Men traditionally sought jobs in northern Ontario’s mainstay industries: mining, forestry, and agriculture — and women stayed home. It wasn’t until the ’60s that universities started to appear in the north."
  • "Nowadays, it’s rare to see any type of GIS certification as a requirement in a job description. For the surveyor profession, it is often essential to certify yourself and is a job requirement. In the case of GIS, many employers are less familiar with the GISP and Esri Technical certificates. If the company uses another GIS software, that means your time, money and effort for Esri certification was wasted."
  • "First, there is little bridge between internship or summer student positions and entry level positions for those who are no longer students. Companies are happy to take on students while they’re in school, and getting early experience is certainly valuable and beneficial, but after graduation recent GIS grads have difficulty starting out or finding entry level work, especially because most entry level GIS positions don’t get advertised."
  • "This first problem leads to the second problem: many companies often don’t want to take risks and prefer hiring an experienced and established person over an inexperienced young worker. This goes back to the chicken and egg struggle of many young professionals: you need experience to get a job, but you need a job to gain experience."
  • "The third problem is many GIS positions, especially for less experienced individuals, are short term contracts or part time rather than permanent full time positions. Many modern business decisions are based on short-term thinking and hiring people for short term gains but without consideration for future growth."