Charlotte Reining hadn’t planned on studying GIS until she happened upon information about UVM’s Geographic Information Systems and Data Communication Certificate program. Inspired by climate change maps created with GIS, Reining felt the certificate program was a natural extension of her Bachelor of Arts and Science in Sustainability, Science, and Society: “I enjoy using data to make maps,” she says. “I am drawn to this field for climate change, and environmental management and remediation.”
According to Reining, now a graduate of the program, one of the strengths of the GIS and Data Communication Certificate program is in the “valuable, real-world, practical learning” opportunities. Reining benefitted from learning that “most municipalities have online data repositories with tons and tons of data.” This was valuable because “I got to take the data and look at what pieces I wanted to map. I completed the analysis from beginning to end, starting from scratch and making a final product from that.” She is intrigued by the fact that there are so many possibilities for how to organize and analyze data.
Path to Geographic Information Systems
Originally a pre-med student, Reining admits that she “had a lot of back and forth about careers before the program.” But once she embarked on the certificate program she “realized that this is what I want to pursue.” Having earned her professional certificate from UVM, Reining now feels that the GIS and Data Communication Certificate program opened a door to an exciting career path for her, and “definitely prepared me for the master’s programs I am looking at.” She now hopes to further her knowledge of GIS through a graduate program in geospatial intelligence.
An aspect of the field that excites Reining is the “huge potential for social planning applications and to address social justice issues with GIS.” The certificate program can open doors to many exciting career paths, with applications from government intelligence to environmental remediation to social justice.
Online GIS Certificate Provides Ultimate Flexibility
The online format of the certificate program was an advantage for Reining, as it enabled her to “order classwork in a way that made sense” to her. Reining believes that “one of the good things with this field is a lot of it is remote anyway. You could be anywhere—which is part of the appeal.” Undoubtedly, this last year has taught us much about the value of flexibility in the work environment.
UVM’s GIS and Data Communication Certificate program can be the start of a career in GIS or provide a strong foundation for further exploration, as it has for Reining. Either way, Charlotte Reining has one more word of advice to prospective students: “If you have the money and the time, take all five courses.” With so many career opportunities in the field of GIS, that is sound advice.