Design & Architecture
Cartographers produce maps for anything from walking and driving to maps used in industry or the military.
What does a Cartographer do?
As a cartographer you will interpret the world around you using art, science and technology. You’ll produce maps for anything from walking and driving to maps used in industry or the military.
Most maps are now produced using technology such as geographical information systems (GIS) and digital mapping techniques. These technologies capture geographical information about an area, analyse it and then present it as a map. As a cartographer you can work on many different kinds of maps. These could include:
- political maps
- satellite navigation (satnav) maps
- road atlases
- climate maps
- tourist maps
- geological maps
- maritime charts.
On a day-to day basis you would typically:
- use desktop publishing and specialist computer software
- design maps for different media, like digital or paper based maps
- check that maps and charts are accurate and to scale
- edits maps, add and remove new roads, structures or landmarks
- collect and analyse data from remote sensors on satellites and planes
- work closely with surveyors and designers
- use geographical information systems (GIS) to model and analyse landscape features
- plot the heights and positions of geographical features from aerial photographs
- carry out topographic surveys of the land and hydrographic surveys of the sea and coastal areas.
With experience, you may also manage mapping projects and other members of staff.
Key skills and interests
To become a cartographer, you would need:
- a keen interest in geography and the environment
- excellent computer and mathematical skills
- design skills
- good awareness of the world around you
- the ability to analyse information from different sources
Working hours and conditions
You will usually work standard office hours, 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. You may sometimes have to work longer hours to meet deadlines for publication or when finishing a project.
You will normally be based in an office and spend most of your time working with computer technology.
How to become an Cartographer?
Entry Level Education
To become a cartographer or geographic information systems officer you usually have to complete a VET qualification in spatial information services. You may be able to study through distance education.
Your employment prospects may be improved if you have a degree with a major in geographical, spatial or geospatial science; geography; geomatics or surveying. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your senior secondary school certificate or equivalent. English, mathematics, chemistry, and physics would be appropriate subjects to study prior to university.
Graduates and students may be eligible for membership of the Surveying and Spatial Sciences Institute and the Mapping Sciences Institute, Australia.
Employment of cartographers and geographic information systems specialists is projected to grow faster than the average for all occupations.
However, because this is a small occupation, the fast employment growth will only result in a small number of new jobs.
Cartographers are likely to be in demand to ensure the reliability and accuracy of maps produced and updated. The growing number of mobile and web-based map products should also result in new jobs for cartographers.
Cartographers will also be needed to visualise spatial information and design the final presentation of information for clients. Their design skills help data become more accessible to users.