Credits:  Federal Election Map, 2012, Ryan Kelly; Kentucky ACT Scores, 2010, Rob Hall; Stream Impairment in Kentucky, 2010, Ryan Kessler

What is a GIS and where can I find employment with GIS skills?

A Geographic Information System (GIS) is a powerful combination of mapping technology and databases, that, when combined, may create an array of spatially arranged data on a map surface for detailed analysis.  Once the domain of a few specialized government agencies and the military, GIS is now utilized by virtually every branch of the government and has become commonplace throughout the private sector.  A GIS may be employed for a stunning variety of applications: environmental, marketing, demographic and urban planning are just a few of the fields in which GIS is currently utilized.  The combination of evolving technologies and applications in GIS, coupled with its tremendous expansion into both the public and private sector, has created a chronic shortage of individuals at both the state and national level who are in possession of solid GIS credentials and training.  Entry-level pay as a qualified GIS technician is modest (and varies from region to region) but with the profound shortage of qualified personnel there is tremendous potential for salary advancement. 

Certificate Requirements:

All students enrolled at Bluegrass Community & Technical College are eligible to pursue the GIS Technology Certificate.  There is no application to enroll in the certificate, but it is suggested that if you elect to pursue the certificate that you inform the academic coordinator of the GIS Certificate as well as your technical advisor.  The curriculum is tailored to those enrolled in the following technical degree programs: Architectural Technology, Civil Engineering, Computer Information Technology and Environmental Science Technology.  The acquisition of a two-year technical degree coupled with a Certificate in GIS Technology will make a graduate more marketable in his/her respective field.  Those pursuing a B.A. or B.S. degree in geography will also find the curriculum tailored to their respective degree program.  The GIS Technology Certificate requires the completion of eighteen (18) hours of coursework.  Non-certificate seeking students are free to take courses in GIS.  All students pursuing the certificate must take the following four core courses:  

CIT 105 – Introduction to Computers

GIS 110 –  Spatial Data Analysis and Map Interpretation

GIS 120 – Introduction to Geographic Information Systems

GIS 210 – Advanced Geographic Information Systems


CIT 105 – Introduction to Computers (3 hours) – Presents an overview of computer information systems, including concepts relating to terminology, computer hardware, software, and networks as well as the impact of computers on society, ethical issues in computing, and trends in information processing.  Uses a microcomputer with systems software and applications software, including a word processor, electronic spreadsheet, database management system, and web page editor to process data and present useful information.  Students may opt to take the CIT 105 bypass exam for credit for this course; contact the CIT Department for further information about the bypass exam.  Students who have received credit for any CIT course above CIT 105 may substitute that course in lieu of CIT 105 for the GIS certificate requirements only.

GIS 110 -- Spatial Data Analysis and Map Interpretation (3 credit hours) – Introduces spatial analysis, the interpretation of map data, and the use of handheld Global Positioning Systems to collect data. Intended for those interested in a career in civil engineering or surveying. Lecture: 2 credits (30 contact hours); Laboratory: 1 credit (15 contact hours).

GIS 120 -- Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (3 credit hours) – Presents a comprehensive survey of the fundamental concepts of GIS, providing students a command over the software to import raster and vector data into a GIS and to conduct simple analyses over their data.  Intended for those with limited experience with GIS who are exploring career opportunities in the field.  Prerequisite: GIS 110.  Lecture: 3 credit hours (45 contact hours).

GIS 210 – Advanced Geographic Information Systems (3 hours) – Explores advanced topics in GIS. Teaches students how to create and import geodatabases into a GIS, edit and create new vector and raster data, build layouts for presentation purposes and manipulate tabular data. Exposes students to various extensions within the software in order to conduct advanced analyses on their data. Prerequisite: GIS 120. Lecture: 3 credits (45 contact hours).


Students must complete one of the following related field course pairings listed below.  The student may not complete the requirement by selecting courses from different pairs.  It is highly recommended that the student select the course pairing that doubles as requirements for their technical degree (or pre-major requirement for the B.A./B.S. in geography)

Eligible Course Pairings for GIS Technology Certificate (effective Fall 2013, students currently enrolled in program consult 2012-13 KCTCS Catalog)

  • Earth’s Physical Environment (GEO 130) and Global Environmental Issues (GEO 162)
  • Fundamentals of Hydrological Geology (EST 160) and Fundamentals of Solid Waste (EST 250) 
  • Introduction to Database Design (CIT 170) and approved Level I or Level II Programming Language Course
  • Introduction to Computer-Aided Design (CAD 100) and Intermediate Computer-Aided Design (CAD 200) 
  • Computer Aided Drafting I (ACH 195) and Computer 3-D Modeling (ACH 298) or approved Special Topics in Architectural Technology (ACH 180)
  • Civil Engineering Graphics (CET 150) and Intermediate Surveying (CET 220)



Credits:  Maui Landslide Risk, 2009, Ryan Kelly; Kentucky Agriculture, 2011, Holly Wahl; Major League Baseball, 2011, Ryan Kelly

GIS Day 2007 (Wednesday, November 14, 2007)

GIS Day 2008 (Wednesday, November 19, 2008)

GIS Day 2009 (Wednesday, November 14, 2009)

GIS Day 2010 (Wednesday, November 17, 2010)

GIS Day 2011 (Wednesday, November 16, 2011)

GIS Day 2012 (Tuesday, November 27, 2012)  

GIS Day 2013 (Wednesday, November 20, 2013)  

GIS Day 2014 (Tuesday, November 18, 2014)  


Fall Semester I (9 credit hours)

  • GIS 110 (3)
  • CIT 105 (3)
  • General Education Course (3)

Spring Semester I (9 credit hours)

  • GIS 120 (3)
  • General Education Course (3)
  • Cross-Disciplinary Course (3)

Fall Semester II (6 credit hours)

  • GIS 210
  • Cross-Disciplinary Course (3)



Please note that completion of the Certificate in GIS Technology does not earn the graduate ESRI certification (CEU) credit hours

For more information regarding the Certificate in GIS Technology

Ryan Kelly
Professor of Geography, GISP
Area Coordinator: Anthropology, Geography & Sociology
Bluegrass Community & Technical College
(859) 246-6328


Ryan Kelly is a Professor of Geography at Bluegrass Community & Technical College.  He is the coordinator for the Certificate in GIS Technology and the instructor for all courses in the program.  He earned his GISP license in 2008 and is registered with the GISCI.PS Technical