How Do You Define the ‘Geospatial Profession’?

by Christine Grahl

2 years and 6 months ago

Tags education engineering gis mapps professionalism surveying

In a session on “Defining Our Profession” at the MAPPS Summer Meeting in Snowmass, Colo., I expected to hear insights on trends in surveying and mapping, and perhaps some ideas for an all-encompassing definition. Instead, the presenters primarily put forth a series of provocative questions.

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Christine Grahl

Christine Grahl is content marketing manager at Leica Geosystems. She can be reached at


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On July 25, 2013 Anas Malkawi wrote:

I’ve been asking this question for a long time and it seems that noone has the answer. I started my career as a Geodetic Surveyor in the Army and then transitioned into the civilian sector as a GIS Professional. The bridge between the two is very narrow but has alot of potholes. Some restructuring of the bridge is needed. Some Surveyors say that GIS is not accurate and it should stand for “Get It Surveyed” while I argue that GIS is as accurate as the data you put into it so it should stand for “Got It Surveyed”.

I personally believe that Geomatics Engineering or Geospatial Engineering should be the all-encompassing profession that includes all the other subfields. Standarderization is extremely important for recognition as a prominant profession. Surveyors can’t even agree on the licensing credential: is it PLS? LS? PS? RPLS? GISP is not even a recognized credential by any state. Photogrammetrists have their credentials that people barely know of.

Why can’t we be like Professional Engineers. Every state has the same initials -PE-. The test can focus on the specialized area (Electrical, Civil, Mechanical, Structural, etc). Can’t we do the same (PGE maybe).

The reason why I’m a GISP and not a LS (or whatever your state calls it) eventhough I spent more years surveying is because GISP actually gave me credit for Surveying work because it is relevent to the Geospatial field. The Surveying exam emphasizes on Boundary surveys because it is the main area where the stamp carries weight in legal matter of boundary disputes. Since I’ve never done boudary surveying then I’m scared to even take the exam.

If the exam can focus on specific areas then that would solve much of the problems. Combine the new GISP exam with the Surveying exam but make it specialized.