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GIS Certification: Esri Certification

Esri logoESRI Canada logo

Many GIS Certification options exist for Canadian geomatics professionals, including software-specific certifications. One popular software certification is the Technical Certification Program offered by the Environmental Systems Research Institute (Esri). This certification is specific to ArcGIS software. There are 3 field domains for exams: Desktop (ArcGIS Desktop), Developer (ArcGIS Desktop Developer or Web Application Developer), and Enterprise (Enterprise Geodata Management, Enterprise System Design, and Enterprise Administration). Holding Esri Technical Certification helps users to stay up to date on software and increase professional competency and knowledge of software best practices. In addition, holding certification demonstrates initiative and looks good on a resumé– it helps reassure employers that they’re hiring a knowledgeable candidate who is well-versed in software techniques.

About Esri

As most GIS professionals are aware, Esri is based out of Redlands, CA, USA, and is the leading GIS software provider and maker of ArcGIS software products. They were founded in 1969 as a land-use consulting firm, and as GIS technology evolved over the decades, Esri has become a GIS industry leader in software products. In March 2015, Esri held 43% of the market share of the GIS market, and their website states that over 75% of the Fortune 500 companies use Esri software. Esri provides GIS software for commercial use, but also to educational institutions and NGO’s. Esri Canada began in 1984 and operates in 16 Canadian offices.

What are the Technical Certification Program Requirements?

Esri Technical Certification requires taking and passing certification exams, and registration is done online. As mentioned above, exams are available for Desktop, Developer, and Enterprise domains, and they are further broken down into Entry Level, Associate Level, and Professional Level, and are offered based on software version type (at present 10.1 to 10.3 are available).  It is worth noting that information on certification is available on both the Esri and Esri Canada sites, although the main Esri site has more content on exam preparation resources.

Exam Preparation

Exam preparation and study tips are available here. There is an Esri ArcGIS Desktop Associate Certification Study Guide available for purchase online. Sample exam questions are available (most are free web courses or training seminars 1-2 hours in length), although there are also two instructor-led 2-day skill review courses available, if you have the money to pay for it. The exam consists of 90-95 multiple choice questions and takes about 2 hours to complete.


Esri Exams can be taken at over 5000 locations available worldwide, including many Canadian locations. Exam scheduling is done with Pearson Vue, Esri ‘s testing partner here.


Each exam costs $225 (USD) to write. The official Esri study guide (mentioned above) is available for $79.95. Instructor-led exam review courses are available for $1070 each.


There are some considerations required before deciding if Esri Technical Certification is right for you. First, it is software- and version-specific; it will therefore only remain current for a couple of years before it becomes obsolete as new software versions come out. Not only that, but it only makes sense to take if you will be working with ArcGIS software frequently–it is the software leader in GIS, but not all companies and organizations who use GIS use Esri software. Third, there are costs associated with taking exams, and travel may be needed to take the exams.

This article is part of a series of articles intended to provide information about different types of optional GIS certification that are currently available for Canadians.

Further Reading about Esri and Esri Certification






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