How to Become a Cartographer

The use of maps has existed for thousands of years.

With the advent of computers and online services, the possibility to create accurate maps and images has become easier for many mapping experts.

Cartographers and similar professionals are experienced at mapping, measuring and surveying the surface of the Earth.

People use maps for a variety of purposes.

This creates the need for highly trained professionals to create geographically correct maps.

Experienced Cartographers will know how to use advanced technology to take images of the earth.

These professionals will then use all of the gathered information in order to interpret and analyze the information and then create or update maps.

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Students who are interested in this type of career can also look into the following similar jobs:

  • Surveyor
  • Photogrammetrists
  • Geographer

If you are a student who is interested in Geography and the Earth, you may want to read the following information regarding this profession.

Included below are the educational requirements, a general job description, the job outlook through the year 2018 and salary information.

Education Requirements to Become a Cartographer

In order for candidates to become a Cartographer , they must begin and complete a Bachelor’s program at an accredited university or college.

Some popular fields of study include: Geography, Engineering, Forestry, Surveying, Physical Science, Computer Science, or any related degree.

If students know they want to become a Cartographer while in high school, they can begin on this career track by taking some helpful courses.

These courses include mechanical drawing, computer science, trigonometry, algebra, geometry and drafting.

Cartographers commonly use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) tools to fulfill their job responsibilities.

In order to use GIS, Cartographers must be highly skilled in using computer software and other technology.

Therefore, candidates who want to become a Cartographer should take courses to strengthen their technical skills.

Potential Cartographers can also seek certification in GIS in order to stand out among other candidates.

This is a voluntary certification offered by the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS).

Make sure to visit ASPRS’s website in order to learn more about GIS certification programs and requirements.

Some helpful skills a future Cartographer can work on are include: perfecting their interpersonal skills, having a good eye for picturing distances and sizes and having strong attention to detail.

Cartographer Job Description

Cartographers are experienced professionals who use several techniques in order to inspect, measure, map and chart the surface of the Earth.

The first step is to collect information, images, geodetic surveys and photographs of the Earth’s surface.

They will use this collected information to analyze, interpret and accurately draw geographical data.

In order to create accurate maps, Cartographers will perform geographical research and gather information regarding regions.

The type of information Cartographers gather includes social features, physical attributes, and non spatial and spatial data.

The type of non spatial data a Cartographer collects includes the following:

  • Information how the land is being used
  • Precipitation information regarding each region
  • Demographic information
  • Population numbers
  • Population density

The spatial data a Cartographer gathers includes the following:

  • Elevation
  • Latitude
  • Longitude
  • Distance

Cartographers will gather all of this information using several types of technological equipment.

Some of equipment a Cartographer may use includes: aerial cameras, ranging (LIDAR), Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and light imaging detection, satellites, remote sensing systems and other types of technology.

After the information is gathered, analyzed and interpreted, Cartographers will use all of the data to plan graphic and digital forms of maps.

Cartographer Salary and Career Path

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual median wage for Cartographers and similar careers was $51,180 in 2008.

The salary range for these professionals is approximately $31,400 to $87,000 per year.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reports that the expected growth for Cartographers and similar careers looks strong.

These careers are expected to grow by approximately 19% through the year 2018.

Candidates with a Bachelor’s degree and some technical skills will be more sought after by employers.

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