Professionalizing the GEOINT Workforce

From Trajectory magazine:

The United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) is blazing a trail for the geospatial intelligence professional to follow from academia to expertise. For the past 10 years, USGIF has awarded scholarships to high school seniors, college students, and doctoral candidates alike; and the Foundation has in the past seven years accredited 12 academic institutions to award GEOINT certificates. Now, USGIF is extending this pipeline to the professional certification and continuing education of GEOINT practitioners.

This fall, USGIF will offer the first Universal GEOINT Certification to both U.S. and international GEOINT practitioners across multiple industries, military, academia, and federal, state, and local government.

“We know not everyone will follow the exact path of our pipeline,” said USGIF CEO Keith Masback. “There are many roads to becoming a GEOINT professional, but no matter how an individual arrives at this profession, the Universal GEOINT Certification will distinguish them as among the best in this field.”

This certification is a natural evolution in the advancement of GEOINT and perhaps the most important Foundation initiative to date, according Masback.

“The community made up the term GEOINT about 12 years ago and had a vision for what we thought it would be,” Masback said. “We now have a body of knowledge to articulate what is encompassed by this thing we call GEOINT. Initially, we were able to identify the academic requirements that fed into the workforce. Now, as technology changes and tradecraft evolves, the next step in the maturation of this process is to provide professional certification to the workforce.”

Since the term GEOINT was written into law by Congress in 2003, there have been several attempts to create standardization throughout the community, according to Dr. Darryl Murdock, USGIF’s vice president of professional development. What’s different today is the blending of skill sets and the need for expertise that goes far beyond the database maintenance now primarily performed by software. GEOINT is no longer about technology but about the analysis the technology enables.

“It used to be you were either a GIS or a remote sensing professional,” Murdock said. “Those once separate activities are merging. If you’re looking for an overarching and progressive way to apply geospatial science and technology to both everyday and defense and intelligence activities, then you’re talking about GEOINT. The GEOINT professional is the person in government and business who informs decision-makers about spatiotemporal issues and provides timely answers to key questions.”

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