How to Become a Cartographer

Many people might think that cartography is a lost field, but it’s more important than ever now, with the use of GPS’s.  Cartography is an essential skill to help people get where they are going and know the information about buildings and landscape. If you find the field of cartography fascinating and are considering becoming a cartographer, below is the information about the cartography field.

What does a cartographer do?

Cartographers are a part of another bigger occupational group known as mapping scientists. They are professionals who gather geographic information using survey data and aerial photographs and then use the information to create charts, drawings, and maps of large sections of the surface of the earth.

  • Cartographic supervisors coordinate the making and designing of maps
  • Cartographic drafters provide information about man-made and natural structures
  • Mosaicists put together a sequence of photographic prints to create a photograph mosaic of a geographic area.   
  • Photogrammetrists are responsible for preparing original maps to scale through measuring as well as interpreting the aerial photographs and using analytical processes and mathematical formulas.
  • Geographic information specialists are responsible for collecting and analyzing the geographic spatial information through the combination of surveying functions and mapmaking.

Salary (as of 2012)



Federal government, excludes postal service


Local government, excludes hospitals and education


Scientific,  technical management & consulting services


Engineering Architectural & related services


State government, excludes hospitals and education


Statistics from BLS

What qualifications do you need to become a cartographer?

It’s required that you have a physical science or engineering bachelor’s degree to start a cartography career. They also need be:

  • Skilled in reading as well as understanding detailed drawings and photographs
  • Able to use computerized and photogrammetric techniques
  • Able to use drafting instruments
  • Able to use precision equipment for stereoplotting
  • Able to understand mathematical formulas
  • Able to accurately represent information they’ve collected.
  • Accurate
  • Precise
  • Able to visualise distances, sizes, objects, and other types of abstract forms.

Requirements for training and education

It’s recommended to have the following courses to become a cartographer:

  • Measurements and surveying
  • Mathematics
  • Drafting
  • Computers

A cartographer also should have great interpersonal skills.

Job outlook

Once a cartographer gains experience and produced high-quality work consistently, it’s possible to advance to supervisor.  After they’ve gotten additional training and skills, a cartographer is able to become specialised in the field of cartography.

The growth of the cartography field is projected to be average through 2014.  Those who have the best chance for a job in this field are those who have experience with GIS and GPS. Most of the openings are going to result from current employees leaving the job or retiring. If you’re interested in this field, you will have the best chance by becoming up to date with the newest technology.