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How to become a Cartographer

cartographer careers

What does a Cartographer do?

Cartographers produce and develop detailed geographical information in the form of maps, graphs, charts, diagrams and spreadsheets for use in various areas such as conservation, surveying, publishing and government.

This involves collecting and collating data provided by means such as remote sensing techniques and geographical information systems (GIS) and presenting information mainly by generating and manipulating images on computer.

Senior staff will also have responsibility for managing staff, projects and resources.

Cartography technicians assist cartographers in the preparation, maintenance and cataloguing of maps, and may assist in fieldwork projects.

What's the working environment like working as a Cartographer?

Hours are mainly 9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday. The work is largely office-based.

What does it take to become a Cartographer?

As a cartographer, you should:

  • be interested in geography and the environment
  • have good spatial awareness and normal colour vision
  • be analytical, with good problem-solving skills
  • be able to follow set procedures, work accurately and systematically, and pay close attention to detail
  • be highly computer literate

Cartographer Career Opportunities

This is a small area of employment and entry is competitive.

The government employs cartographers in the Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland departments, in the Defence Geographic and Imagery Intelligence Agency Headquarters and in the Hydrograhic Office (UK). Small numbers are also employed in other departments such as the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the Met Office and the Department of Transport.

Other employers include planning departments in local authorities, oil companies, utilities companies, commercial map publishers, specialist cartographic and mapping companies and the British Geological Survey. The directory of corporate members on the British Cartographics Society website will give an idea of the private companies involved in this sector.

Some cartographers do freelance work, offering services to cartographic companies or publishers, but opportunities for this are small, and working on this basis will involve a large finacial outlay for equipment. Members of the British Cartograhic Society can have their details entered on the society's freelance directory.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Cartographer that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

British Cartographic Society
12 Elworthy Drive
TA21 9AT
Tel: 01823 665775

Society of Cartographers

Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Society

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Courses to help you become a Cartographer