Professionalizing the GEOINT Workforce

USGIF launches Universal GEOINT Certification Program at GEOINT 2016


Geospatial intelligence has grown far beyond the banks of the Potomac and is now a global phenomenon. In just more than a decade since the term was coined, a large GEOINT Community has sprung up around the world that is significantly impacting commercial business as well as the more traditional defense, intelligence, and homeland security communities.

Workers across the globe and in varied industries are becoming GEOINTers by the very nature and requirements of their jobs. And as the world demands more precision location information, geographical representations, and data visualization, the most challenging issue the community faces is ensuring the professional workforce has the right knowledge, skills, and attitudes (KSAs), as well as a way to demonstrate this domain expertise—or a pathway to achieve such proficiency.

USGIF officially launches its Universal GEOINT Certification Program this week at GEOINT 2016, having just last week completed its pilot exam phase and awarded the first certifications to those who passed pilot exams. This marks an exciting milestone for the GEOINT Community as USGIF broadens its GEOINT pipeline from university accreditation and scholarships to include the professionalization of the GEOINT workforce.

USGIF’s certification program includes three exams with corresponding certifications: GIS and Analysis Tools (CGP-G); Remote Sensing and Imagery Analysis (CGP-R); and Geospatial Data Management (CGP-D). A fourth competency—data visualization—is incorporated throughout all of the exams.

Each of the three exams and subsequent professional certifications are valuable as standalone credentials. Many GIS, remote sensing, or data management professionals within the GEOINT Community may choose to take only one or two of the exams. However, for GEOINT practitioners, passing all three exams offers added value. Those who earn and maintain all three USGIF certifications simultaneously will be eligible to apply for USGIF’s overarching Universal GEOINT Professional designation. Universal GEOINT Professionals demonstrate a true understanding of the broad geospatial intelligence discipline.

Leveraging best practices, USGIF created an independent Certification Governance Board (CGB) that directs certification efforts by writing and maintaining the candidate handbook, determining passing scores, and evaluating Universal GEOINT Professional program processes. The CGB has met several times in the lead-up to the official launch of the certification program and will hold its first annual meeting at the Symposium Tuesday.

Aligning with NGA Certification

Parallel with USGIF’s efforts, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) has created a certification program designed specifically for the U.S. Defense Intelligence Enterprise. GEOINT analysts from all branches of the U.S. military, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and NGA participate in the NGA program. While USGIF’s certifications are applicable for all GEOINT practitioners, NGA’s certifications are designed specifically for Defense Intelligence Enterprise analysts.

USGIF and NGA have agreed upon a plan for reciprocity. Recognizing differences in intended audiences, USGIF and NGA determined there is close alignment between the three USGIF assessments and four of NGA’s assessments. The goal between the programs is to achieve transferability through the concept of functional equivalence. Functional equivalence allows hiring officials to agree that more than one certification meets current organizational needs.

This concept of transportable and transparent professional certification with universal applicability will continue to be paramount to USGIF membership as well as the growing global GEOINT Community.

USGIF’s certifications will offer GEOINT professionals the opportunity to advance their careers by differentiating themselves from peers, demonstrating their ability to perform beyond the skill level at which they were hired, and making them more marketable for new positions and eligible for promotions, awards, bonuses, etc.

Universal GEOINT Certification Program testing will begin in July.

Visit to learn more.


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