How To Become A Cartographer
Career Video: Cartographer
Cartographers create geographical charts and maps for educational, political, and other purposes. Cartographers, also known as mapmakers, have been making geographical maps and charts for centuries. They use their knowledge of cartographic design to create maps and charts that are easy to use. Cartographers create geographical charts and maps by collecting geographical data. This includes measurements, surveys, reports, and other data to prepare charts and maps. If you have an interest in map making, you may want to pursue a career in cartography.
Why Become A Cartographer
Cartographers gather a variety of data. This includes longitude, latitude, distances, and elevations of areas. Cartographers create incredible and sometimes intricate maps and charts utilizing Light-Imaging Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) technology, geodetic surveys, and remote sensing systems. A cartographer may create maps using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology. This allows a cartographer to analyze, assemble, and display spatial information through a digital mapping format. LIDAR and GIS systems can make the process of map-making for a cartographer more interesting and streamlined. The work of a cartographer can be traditional or innovative, as they may create simple maps using traditional paper or complex digital maps.
Due to technological advancements such as LIDAR and other systems, cartographers may create web-based, mobile, and navigational mapping applications. Maps that are web-based are easier to distribute and apply updates. This does require cartographers to be efficient on the computer.
Qualities & Skills For A Cartographer
If you are looking for employment within the field of cartography, be aware that you will need to possess the following qualities and skills for a cartographer position.
- Critical-Thinking Skills – Cartographers utilize surveys, maps, and records to determine changes in positional accuracy and thematics of each geographic feature or region.
- Computer & Technology Skills – Cartographers create and edit maps through computers and various forms of technology.
- Detail Oriented – As a cartographer, you will focus on the finer details in order to construct a map and its features.
- Problem-Solving Skills – Cartographers must be able to analyze, identify, and resolve problems with computers, datasets, and technology when constructing the maps.
- Decision-Making Skills – As a cartographer, you will make countless decisions about the readability and accuracy of a map and its features. It is imperative that you have strong decision making skills in order to determine what information is necessary in order to meet a company’s needs.
Cartographer Work Environment
Cartographers may be employed in architectural and engineering firms, government facilities, and consulting services. A cartographer may spend a lot of time within an office setting. Certain projects may require extensive fieldwork to obtain data and verify information. With the ever-changing landscapes, creation of new roadways, and construction, a cartographer needs to be able to revising maps and charts.
In 2012, the Occupational Employment and Wages Report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the US Department of Labor showed that the mean annual wage of a cartographer was $57,440. The median annual wage of a cartographer is dependent upon experience and education.
Cartographer Career Outlook
The career outlook for a cartographer appears to be very promising. From 2012 to 2022, the overall employment of cartographers is expected to grow 20%. The projected growth of cartographers is due to the demand for more mobile-friendly and web-based mapping applications, national security planning, and local government planning.
If you wish to pursue a degree in cartography, you will need to obtain a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in Cartography, Geomatics, Geography, or Surveying. In your coursework, you will learn about geographic information and LIDAR systems. You many learn about computer programming, engineering, mathematics, surveying, and geography. You may learn how to use or create Internet based or mobile mapping technologies. You’ll learn how to design and visualize mapping data with software. Computer-aided design (CAD), computer-assisted cartography (CAC), and computer-assisted mapping (CAM). Other coursework topics may include:
- Map production
- Cultural aspects of maps
- Cartographic theory
- Spatial visualization
Graduate coursework may include topics such as geographical computer applications, Internet-based geographical information systems, remote-sensing technology, and geographic theory. Urban planning, land use, and environmental impact of human activities may also be covered in your coursework. Internships are also key to your career path, so be sure to seek out internships during your time at school.
Upon graduation, you will need to become a licensed cartographer. Licensure requirements for cartographers varies from state to state, so be sure to browse the Internet or ask your local government for information.