Cartographer

Cartographers collect information about the geography of an area to design and produce maps, charts and pictures.

Average salary (a year)

£18,000 Starter

to

£45,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

39 to 41 a week

You could work

evenings occasionally

How to become a Cartographer

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • working towards this role
  • experience in the armed forces

University

You can take a degree in:

  • geography
  • geographical information systems (GIS)
  • land surveying
  • earth sciences
  • oceanography

Employers may also accept degrees in other subjects like computer science, software engineering or graphic design.

A postgraduate qualification may help you to find work in a specialist field of cartography like GIS.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels for a degree
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study

More information

Work

You may be able to get into this job by starting as a trainee cartographic technician and working your way up.

Employers may look for an A level or equivalent in geography, art and design, mathematics or computing.

Other routes

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.

After you leave the services, you could use your experience to find work in commercial cartography and mapping.

More information

Further information

The British Cartographic Society and Ordnance Survey have more details about internships, graduate schemes and becoming a cartographer.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • knowledge of geography
  • maths knowledge
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • analytical thinking skills
  • excellent written communication skills
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • design skills and knowledge
  • the ability to work well with others
  • You will be expected to know how to use a computer and tools to benefit this job.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

In this role you could be :

  • 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

Working environment

You could work in an office.

Career path and progression

With 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.

Training opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

We can't find any apprenticeship vacancies in England for a Cartographer right now.

The Find an apprenticeship service can help you with your search, send alerts when new apprenticeships become available and has advice on how to apply.

Courses In England

GCE A Level Geography

  • Provider: St Anselm's College
  • Start date: 01 September 2019
  • Location: Birkenhead

A Level Geography

  • Provider: The Queen Elizabeth's High School, Gainsborough
  • Start date: 04 September 2019
  • Location: Gainsborough

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