Cartographers collect information about the geography of an area to design and produce maps, charts and pictures.
1. Entry requirements
You’ll usually need a degree in a related subject, like:
- earth sciences
- geographical information systems (GIS)
- topographic science
- land surveying
An MSc may help you find work in a specialist field of cartography like GIS.
You may also be able to get into this role by starting out as a trainee technician and working your way up.
If you want to work as a cartographer in the armed forces, you can apply to the British army as a geographic technician, or the Royal Air Force as an air cartographer.
The British Cartographic Society and Ordnance Survey have more information on internships, graduate schemes and becoming a cartographer.
2. Skills required
- excellent IT and maths skills
- design skills
- the ability to analyse information from different sources
- a logical approach
- a high level of accuracy and attention to detail
3. What you'll do
You’ll work on different kinds of maps, like:
- climate maps
- geological maps
- maritime charts
- political maps
- road atlases
- satellite navigation or satnav maps
- tourist maps
Your day-to-day duties might include:
- using desktop publishing and specialist computer software
- designing digital or paper based maps
- checking maps and charts are accurate and to scale
- editing maps, adding and removing new roads, structures or landmarks
- collecting and analysing data from remote sensors on satellites and planes
- using GIS to model and analyse landscape features
- plotting the heights and positions of geographical features from aerial photographs
- carrying out topographic surveys of the land and hydrographic surveys of the sea and coastal areas
Starter: £18,000 to £22,000
Highly Experienced: £45,000
If you’re freelance, you’ll set your own rates.
These figures are a guide.
5. Working hours, patterns and environmentYou’ll usually work 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. You may have to work longer to meet deadlines for publication, or when finishing a project.
You’ll usually be based in an office and spend most of your time working with computers.
6. Career path and progressionWith experience you could become a senior cartographer and manage mapping projects and staff.
If you specialise in working with GIS, you could apply for Chartered Geographer (GIS) status.
You could also work on a freelance basis, but you’ll need your own mapping equipment.
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Last updated: 13 December 2016