Online GIS courses
If you are interested in adding analytical skills to your portfolio, GIS is one of the tech areas that might be a good complement to your previous studies. The Geographic Information Systems (GIS) industry is growing and offers a chance for you to be involved in many types of projects and applications when you earn a GIS certification. You may be asking, what courses do I need to work in the GIS field? There are several university programs that teach GIS classes and offer certificates. But these typically occur at the slow learning rate that goes along with a semester schedule. The most popular route is to gain skills through online platforms that offer GIS courses in the comfort of your home. With many of these GIS courses, you are able to understand the GIS concepts, software, and products. A couple go further and show you industry workflows and career guidance. Here are the top commercial platforms where you can acquire a certificate by just taking these online GIS courses.
Esri is the world’s largest GIS software company. Learning their software is a good idea since most government agencies employ it in various departments as their central GIS database. Esri has been an advocate of many planetary benefitting missions like sustainability, smart city planning, environmental discrimination, and education. Esri is well known for their ArcGIS suite which consist of integrated applications like ArcGIS Pro, ArcGIS Server, and ArcGIS Hub. They have a large catalog of classes that are centralized around these applications and many of their extensions. Esri offers online GIS courses that you can take asynchronously with a mixture of free/paid courses. The completion time for courses is between 1 hour to 2 days. You can earn certificates by passing core exams at $250 or specialty exams at $150.
Recommendation: This platform is great for ongoing continuing education for both basics of their software and the latest software releases.
Bootcamp GIS is a learning platform focused on geospatial projects. The courses are taught by some of the best GIS architects that are working in the industry. Each course is a snapshot of their work which means you are learning how to perform practical project steps. You might take these courses when you want to add workflow experiences to your resume that are similar to those seen on job announcements. Bootcamp GIS offers online classes, elite instructors, and real project use cases. You can start anytime to get a GIS Certificate with 6 courses in 6 months. They offer career services to help network you to a variety of GIS jobs.
Recommendation: Their formula gives the student a holistic career prep experience with GIS skills, project experiences, industry relationships, and career services support.
Coursera is a worldwide online learning platform that gives you access to online courses anywhere, to anyone and at any time. These online courses and degrees are given by top universities and companies from around the country. The Coursera classes emulate general college classes with introductory topics in GIS, analysis, and cartography. They have about five courses in the GIS specialization which is good if you are just beginning with GIS. With Coursera, they offer free classes that take 1-4 days to finish. If you want something to put on your resume, you can pay for a certificate. They do offer some financial aid.
Recommendation: This is for students that are dabbling in GIS and want quick cursory knowledge as the workflows are not high-end GIS skill sets.
LinkedIn Learning is an online course platform that provides video courses for different subjects. These videos are taught by the top industry experts in fields like business, software and much more. In regards to GIS courses, you are able to find some of the most interesting classes for free on LinkedIn Learning. The courses provided for you can be about learning what GIS is to exploring the data and technology aspect of GIS. LinkedIn learning has about 15 online courses that can range from 30 minutes to 4 hours. The courses are free.
Recommendation: There are some good general GIS intros and a few technical workflows in these courses but you will have to fend for yourself in gaining access to data and software.
Although QGIS is not a learning platform, we wanted to give a shout out to it as a free and open source GIS platform. It provides you display, editing, and analysis capabilities. Its functionality is more limited than Esri software, but a user needing to make maps for a smaller organization can do just fine with this robust toolset. They have an online training manual with lots of screenshots. And they have an involved user community that reports bugs and provides virtual support that you can lean on for questions.
Recommendation: In the DIY world, this is a good platform to get the software, learn, and run a project with the support of a community.
It’s wonderful to see that there are easy options to learn GIS online. Learning tech and earning IT certificates is now a regular requirement and you will be returning to one or more of these platforms periodically. The great content mentioned in this article will be a stepping stone to acquiring a career in GIS. At the end of the day, the goal is for you to step into the $18 billion dollar industry so you can acquire a job in GIS. At the beginning of 2022, we can see listings of over 22,000 jobs in the GIS industry and you could be one of those people who love what they do in the geospatial world.
Written by: Andres Abeyta – Executive Director of Bootcamp GIS