With its December cohort of Certified GIS Professionals (GISPs), the GIS Certification Institute (GISCI) surpassed the 3,000 GIS professional milestone by nearly 200 individuals. As of December 28, 2008, there are 3,231 GISPs. December was additionally significant as GISCI welcomed its largest cohort of GISPs on record. 345 GISPs were certified in December putting it significantly ahead of all previous cohorts.

With the expiration of the five-year grandfathering provision at the close of 2008 (during which time applicants were eligible to be "grandfathered" by virtue of experience alone), GISCI expected substantial growth in the number of applications received in 2008, but did not anticipate such a tremendous response. The year started with an estimate of 600 new GISPs in 2008. During the last week of the year alone, GISCI received more than 700 applications for review. Most of these individuals will be certified in January and February 2009.

GISCI attributes the growth to better recognition of the credential by the industry, GISP-to-colleague networking, and the importance of properly defining GIS as a profession. As GISCI President Al Butler noted upon achievement of the 3,000-GISP milestone, "What has been most remarkable to me over these first five years is the enthusiasm with which members of our profession have chosen to recognize themselves. People become GISPs as a way of declaring their membership in the GIS profession. They are also declaring their obligations to each other, their employers, and society to behave in an ethical manner. Every GISP must be an advocate for the profession."