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Become A Cartographer

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Working As A Cartographer

  • Interacting With Computers
  • Getting Information
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Processing Information
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Repetitive

  • $190,381

    Average Salary

What Does A Cartographer Do

Cartographers and photogrammetrists collect, measure, and interpret geographic information in order to create and update maps and charts for regional planning, education, and other purposes.

Cartographers are mapmakers who design user-friendly maps. Photogrammetrists are specialized mapmakers who use aerial photographs, satellite images, and light-imaging detection and ranging (LIDAR) technology to build models of the Earth’s surface and its features for the purpose of creating maps.

Duties

Cartographers typically do the following:

  • Collect geographic data
  • Create visual representations of data, such as annual precipitation patterns
  • Examine and compile data from ground surveys, reports, aerial photographs, and satellite images
  • Prepare maps in digital or graphic form for environmental and educational purposes
  • Update and revise existing maps and charts

Photogrammetrists typically do the following:

  • Plan aerial and satellite surveys to ensure complete coverage of the area in question
  • Collect and analyze spatial data, such as elevation and distance
  • Develop base maps that allow geographic information system (GIS) data to be layered on top

Cartographers and photogrammetrists use information from geodetic surveys (land surveys that account for the curvature of the Earth’s surface) and remote-sensing systems, including aerial cameras and satellites. Some also use light-imaging detection and ranging (LIDAR) technology. LIDAR systems use lasers attached to planes or cars to digitally map the topography of the earth. Because LIDAR is often more accurate than traditional surveying methods, it can also be used to collect other forms of data, such as the location and density of forest canopies.

Cartographers and photogrammetrists increasingly work on online and mobile maps. Interactive maps are growing in popularity, and cartographers and photogrammetrists collect data and design these maps for mobile phones and navigation systems.

Cartographers and photogrammetrists also create maps and perform aerial surveys for governments to aid in urban and regional planning. Such maps may include information on population density and demographic characteristics. Some cartographers and photogrammetrists help build maps for government agencies for work involving national security and public safety. Accurate and updated maps help emergency responders provide assistance as quickly as possible.

A cartographer who uses GIS technology to create maps is often known as a geographic information specialist. GIS technology is typically used to assemble, integrate, analyze, and present spatial information in a digital format. Maps created with GIS technology combine spatial graphic features with nongraphic information. These maps are used to provide support for decisions involving environmental studies, geology, engineering, land-use planning, and business marketing.

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How To Become A Cartographer

A bachelor’s degree in cartography, geography, geomatics, surveying, or a related field is the most common path of entry into this occupation. Some states require cartographers and photogrammetrists to be licensed as surveyors, and some states have specific licenses for photogrammetrists.

Education

Cartographers and photogrammetrists usually have a bachelor’s degree in cartography, geography, geomatics, or surveying. (Geomatics combines the science, engineering, math, and art of collecting and managing geographically referenced information.) Although it is not as common, some have a bachelor’s degree in engineering, forestry, or computer science.

Growing use of geographic information system (GIS) technology has resulted in cartographers and photogrammetrists needing more courses in computer programming, engineering, math, GIS technology, surveying, and geography.

Cartographers must also be familiar with Web-based mapping technologies, including newer modes of compiling data that incorporate the positioning capabilities of mobile phones and in-car navigation systems.

Photogrammetrists must be familiar with remote sensing, image processing, and light-imaging detection and ranging (LIDAR) technology, and they must be knowledgeable about using the software that is necessary with these tools.

Many aspiring cartographers and photogrammetrists benefit from internships while in school.

High school students interested in becoming a cartographer or photogrammetrist should take courses in algebra, geometry, trigonometry, drafting, and computer science.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Licensing requirements for cartographers and photogrammetrists vary by state. A number of states require cartographers and photogrammetrists to be licensed as surveyors, and some states have specific licenses for photogrammetrists. Although licensing requirements vary by state, candidates must have a minimum of a high school diploma and pass a test.

Cartographers and photogrammetrists may also receive certification from the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS). Candidates must meet experience and education requirements and must pass an exam. Although certification is not required, it can demonstrate competence and may help candidates get a job.

Important Qualities

Computer skills. Both cartographers and photogrammetrists must have experience working with computer data and coding. Because maps are created digitally, knowing how to edit them on a computer is essential.

Critical-thinking skills. Cartographers may work from existing maps, surveys, and other records, and they must be able to determine the accuracy of each feature being mapped.

Decisionmaking skills. Both cartographers and photogrammetrists must make decisions about the accuracy and readability of a map. They must decide what information they require in order to meet the client’s needs.

Detail oriented. Cartographers must focus on details when conceiving a map and deciding what features to include. Photogrammetrists must pay close attention to detail when interpreting aerial photographs and remotely sensed data.

Problem-solving skills. Cartographers and photogrammetrists must be able reconcile differences between aerial photographs, land surveys, and satellite images.

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Cartographer Demographics

Gender

Male

65.5%

Female

31.0%

Unknown

3.5%
Ethnicity

White

65.1%

Black or African American

11.7%

Hispanic or Latino

11.5%

Asian

8.4%

Unknown

3.3%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

42.9%

French

14.3%

Russian

14.3%

Armenian

5.7%

Portuguese

2.9%

Bulgarian

2.9%

Ukrainian

2.9%

Greenlandic

2.9%

Mandarin

2.9%

Persian

2.9%

Arabic

2.9%

Italian

2.9%
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Cartographer Education

Schools

University of Maryland - College Park

7.2%

Kansas State University

6.0%

University of Kentucky

6.0%

University of North Alabama

6.0%

George Mason University

6.0%

University of Denver

6.0%

University of Southern Maine

4.8%

Northwest Missouri State University

4.8%

University of Tennessee - Knoxville

4.8%

University of Louisville

4.8%

Pennsylvania State University

4.8%

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

4.8%

West Virginia University

4.8%

University of Wisconsin - Madison

4.8%

Kent State University

4.8%

Ball State University

4.8%

Rowan University

3.6%

University of Alabama

3.6%

Appalachian State University

3.6%

Northern Arizona University

3.6%
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Majors

Geography

53.7%

Geology

8.6%

Business

5.2%

Graphic Design

3.1%

Drafting And Design

2.8%

Computer Science

2.8%

Environmental Science

2.8%

Urban Planning

2.5%

Fine Arts

1.9%

Education

1.9%

Engineering

1.9%

Anthropology

1.5%

Surveying, Mapping, And Hydraulic Technologies

1.5%

Civil Engineering

1.5%

Political Science

1.5%

Information Sciences

1.5%

Computer Information Systems

1.5%

Natural Resources Management

1.2%

Economics

1.2%

Forestry

1.2%
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Degrees

Bachelors

45.4%

Masters

21.9%

Other

18.7%

Certificate

4.8%

Associate

4.8%

Doctorate

2.8%

Diploma

1.6%
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Real Cartographer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Cartographers and Photogrammetrists Chesapeake Operating, Inc. Oklahoma City, OK Jun 10, 2010 $120,000
Cartographers and Photogrammetrists Chesapeake Operating, Inc. Oklahoma City, OK Dec 22, 2009 $120,000
Cartographers and Photogrammetrists Google Inc. Mountain View, CA Jan 22, 2014 $103,000
Cartographers and Photogrammetrists Google Inc. Mountain View, CA Apr 11, 2014 $100,900
Cartographers and Photogrammetrists First American Real Estate Solutions LLC Chantilly, VA Apr 22, 2010 $95,477
Cartographers and Photogrammetrists Fugro Earthdata, Inc. Frederick, MD May 26, 2010 $90,334
Cartographers and Photogrammetrists ESRI Inc. Alpharetta, GA Mar 18, 2010 $83,200
Cartographers and Photogrammetrists Radius Technology Group, Inc. College Park, MD Jun 19, 2014 $82,930
Cartographers and Photogrammetrists Sanborn Colorado Springs, CO Jun 25, 2008 $81,850
Cartographers and Photogrammetrists Visual Intelligence, LP Houston, TX Nov 18, 2011 $80,000
Cartographer Telenav, Inc. Sunnyvale, CA Jan 03, 2012 $80,000 -
$112,000
Cartographer Telenav, Inc. Sunnyvale, CA Oct 17, 2011 $80,000 -
$115,000
Cartographer City of North Las Vegas North Las Vegas, NV Apr 01, 2010 $75,633
Senior Cartographer Caris USA Inc. Alexandria, VA Aug 01, 2011 $75,000
Cartographers and Photogrammetrists ESRI Inc. Vienna, VA Mar 09, 2010 $71,760
Cartographers and Photogrammetrists Woolpert, Inc. Arlington, VA Sep 10, 2009 $69,100
Cartographers and Photogrammetrists Eagle Information Mapping, Inc. Houston, TX May 22, 2014 $67,662
Cartographers and Photogrammetrists Bowman Consulting Group Chantilly, VA Apr 22, 2014 $64,002
Cartographers and Photogrammetrists Camp Dresser & McKee Inc. Austin, TX Mar 01, 2011 $63,045
Cartographers and Photogrammetrists Radius Technology Group, Inc. College Park, MD Nov 20, 2012 $62,691
Cartographers and Photogrammetrists ESRI Inc. Vienna, VA Jun 12, 2008 $60,570
Cartographers and Photogrammetrists The Atlantic Group, LLC Huntsville, AL Jul 07, 2014 $60,092
Cartographers and Photogrammeterists Google Inc. Mountain View, CA May 30, 2012 $54,000
Cartographers and Photogrammetrists URS Corporation Louisville, KY Sep 06, 2013 $53,996
Cartographers and Photogrammetrists Orlando Utilities Commission Orlando, FL Sep 04, 2008 $53,700 -
$80,500
Cartographers & Photogrammetrists GMR Aerial Surveys, Inc. D/B/A Photo Science Norcross, GA Jan 22, 2009 $53,000
Cartographers and Photogrammetrists Coastal Environments Incorporated Baton Rouge, LA Sep 24, 2012 $52,000
Cartographer Blanton & Associates, Inc. Austin, TX May 09, 2016 $52,000
Cartographer Development Seed Inc. Washington, DC Sep 14, 2013 $51,418
Cartographer Development Seed Inc. Washington, DC Oct 01, 2012 $50,648

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Top Skills for A Cartographer

  1. GIS
  2. Info
  3. Arc
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Performed data modifications within GIS production environments.
  • Respond to inquiries from public and private customers concerning information included within division databases.
  • Maintained land property parcels and agricultural delineations in ESRI Coverage format.
  • Defined production specifications of projections, scale, size and colors.
  • Interpreted tax-maps, aerial photographs, and satellite images in order to understand how to create a new representation of them.

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Top 10 Best States for Cartographers

  1. District of Columbia
  2. Nevada
  3. Virginia
  4. New Jersey
  5. Washington
  6. California
  7. North Dakota
  8. New York
  9. New Mexico
  10. Illinois
  • (2 jobs)
  • (2 jobs)
  • (16 jobs)
  • (1 jobs)
  • (2 jobs)
  • (5 jobs)
  • (0 jobs)
  • (2 jobs)
  • (0 jobs)
  • (3 jobs)

Top Cartographer Employers

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