What does a cartographer do?
Cartographers gather, evaluate, interpret, and geographic information from data, surveys, and photographs that are collected from satellites and aircraft. They use this information to create precise and clear maps. They compile data to create maps and perform geographical research. They work with spatial and non-spatial data. Spatial data is latitude, longitude, distance, and elevation and non-spatial data involves land-use patterns, population density, demographic characteristics, and annual precipitation levels. The maps they create describe the physical and social features on specific land areas.
Cartographers often use Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to accurately locate reference points. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is also an important tool of cartographers. They often create maps in graphic and digital form using remote sensing systems and geodetic surveys. The maps provide information on geology, forestry, seismology, construction, and other fields.
What kind of training does a cartographer need?
Cartographers typically need at least a bachelor degree in cartography, geography, engineering, or other related field. Cartographers typically complete coursework in environmental sciences, geography, surveying, and statistics. They usually also complete training in computer assisted design (CAD), computer-assisted mapping (CAM), satellite navigation, and computer-assisted cartography (CAC). Cartography students also participate in fieldwork to gain hands-on experience. Some states require cartographers to be licensed as surveyors. Licensing requirements vary by the state, but typically include at least a bachelor degree and passing a written examination. Cartographers must stay up to date on technological advances and often complete continuing education courses.
What are the prospects for a career as a cartographer?
Employment of cartographers is expected to grow much faster than average for all professions, increasing 20% from 2006 to 2016 (1). The increased demand for fast, complete, and accurate geographic information will drive job growth.
Job prospects are expected to be favorable especially for cartographers who have at least a bachelor degree and extensive technical experience. Job openings will also arise from the need to replace cartographers who retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.
How much do cartographers make?
As of October 2009, cartographers with 1 to 4 years experience earn average annual salaries between $29,800 and $43,700. Those with 5 to 9 years experience earn average annual salaries between $48,605 and $76,302 (2).
A career as a cartographer is a great choice for individuals interested in geographic information and using it to create maps and other space representations of land features. Cartographers must be able to effectively visualize objects, sizes, and distances. They must be in good physical condition because their work is very active and strenuous. They must be accurate, precise, and have good coordination. Excellent hearing and eyesight are essential for observing land spaces.