shrug-l: RE: Final Results from the Esri Certification Survey

Candice Scale CScale at
Wed Apr 20 09:33:54 EDT 2011


Thanks so much for sharing these results. Very interesting!!!


Candice M. Scale
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From: shrug-l-bounces at [mailto:shrug-l-bounces at] On Behalf Of Tripp Corbin
Sent: Monday, April 18, 2011 5:45 PM
To: shrug-l at
Subject: shrug-l: Final Results from the Esri Certification Survey

As promised, here are the final results from the survey I posted last week asking if folks were planning to take one of the new Esri Technical certification exams. The survey is now closed with 243 responses. Thanks to everyone that took the time to respond. I thing the results are interesting. I have included some thoughts as well.

So here are the results to date with 243 responders:

 1.  Have you heard of the new Esri Technical Certifications?
    *   81% Yes
    *   18% No
    *   1% No response
 2.  Are you planning to take one of the Certification Exams?
    *   39.5% Yes
    *   39.5% No
    *   20.5% No response
 3.  If you are planning to take an exam which ones are your considering? (Multiple answers allowed)
    *   Desktop Associate - 59.7%
    *   Desktop Professional - 68.4%
    *   Web Application Developer Associate - 11.9%
    *   Geodatabase Management Associate - 29.3%
    *   Enterprise Admin Associate - 19.5%
 4.  If you are not planning to take an exam, why? (Multiple choices allowed)
    *   Cost - 46.7%
    *   Don't see value in these certifications - 50.0%
    *   Don't see value in certifications in general - 11.9%
    *   Don't have time to prepare - 22.8%
    *   Employer doesn't care about certification - 48.9%
    *   Other - 21.7%
                                                               i.      Using other than Esri GIS Tools
                                                             ii.      Cost/Benefit
                                                            iii.      No local testing center
                                                           iv.      Already GISP
                                                             v.      Don't have the needed tech knowledge yet
                                                           vi.      Just another ploy to get more money

 1.  What are you doing to prepare for the exam? (Multiple choices allowed)
    *   Nothing, just planning to use my experience - 31.7%
    *   Taking Esri's Review Class - 28.2%
    *   Taking Esri classes recommended on Certification website - 25.8%
    *   Taking classes from someone other than Esri - 10.5%
    *   Getting together with a local study group - 10.5%
    *   Signed up for on-line practice exams -10.5 %
    *   Self Study - 48.2%
    *   Other - 12.9%

So there are the results as promised. It is interesting that there is almost an even split between those that are planning to take the exam and those that aren't. Based on the comments there seems to be two common threads for those that aren't taking the exam. The first is cost. They just don't have the money to pay the testing fee let alone money for any training or preparation. They cannot get their employers to pay for it either. Which leads to the second reason folks seem to be in the no category on this questions, they or their employer doesn't see much value in them.

For a seasoned veteran of the GIS trenches with years of experience and maybe the GISP certification under their belt, it might be hard to see much value in one of these new certifications. In general I would agree. The comments from the survey would sure seem to support this as well. It seems to be the general consensus. However I think we have all known at least one person that has had years of experience but really knew very little beyond one area of specialty or function. These exams are a good way to prove you are a well rounded user; one that really knows your way around the software even for veteran Esri users.  Depending on your career path being a well rounded user might not be a concern.

I do think employers will find these certifications a handy tool if they are an Esri based shop. It is a quick and easy way to determine if someone has a specific skill level. This can be especially helpful if the person responsible for hiring is not a GIS Professional or Esri user.

The last big reason I saw in the comments for not taking the exam was the need to possibly recertify with each new release. While I can see this would be somewhat frustrating and might even been seen as just a ploy to grab more money from the user base, it is the common and accepted practice in the software industry. Those of us in the IT field have been dealing with this for a long time. There are valid reasons for doing it this way. First as we know software changes, sometimes in very significant ways. Look at the differences between ArcGIS 9.3 and 10. Certifications  which  allow you to claim you have certain skill levels must reflect these changes or they truly have no value. While I can't speak for Esri, I know in the past Microsoft has had specific upgrade exams which allow you to easily upgrade your certifications from one version to another. These exams test existing certified users only on those features that have changed. These upgrade exams are often offered at reduced rates. It is my hope that Esri might follow this example.

There are my 2 cents for what they are worth. I certainly don't see this as a replacement for the GISP as it only focuses on how to use Esri software and not a more thorough understanding of GIS concepts and theory. However it can be a useful tool for those that use Esri software as their primary GIS platform.  For more information directly from Esri click on the links below. - Recorded Webinar - Comparison of GIS and Esri Tech Certifications.

Tripp Corbin, MCP, CFM, GISP
Vice President, GIS/IT
Esri Certified ArcGIS Desktop Trainer
Esri ArcGIS Desktop 10 Certified Associate
CompTIA Certified Technical Trainer
Keck & Wood, Inc.<>
(678) 417-4013
(678) 417-4055 fax

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