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Cartographer

Alternative titles for this job include

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

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
  • an apprenticeship
  • 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, or equivalent, for a degree
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study

More Information

Apprenticeship

You could complete a geospatial survey technician advanced apprenticeship, or geospatial mapping degree apprenticeship.

You may be able to train for similar roles, such as air cartographer in the armed forces.

You can find out more information from:

  • Royal Air Force
  • Entry requirements

    You'll usually need:

    • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship

    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 apprenticeship in geospatial surveying, or A levels 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

    You can find out more about a career in cartography from the British Cartographic Society and Ordnance Survey.

    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
    • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages confidently

    What you'll do

    Day-to-day tasks

    In this role you could:

    • use desktop publishing and specialist computer software
    • design digital or paper based maps
    • check maps and charts are accurate and to scale
    • edit maps, add and remove new roads, structures or landmarks
    • collect and analyse data from remote sensors on satellites and planes
    • use 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

    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.

    Current opportunities

    Apprenticeships In England

    Land & Engineering Surveyor Apprenticeship

    • Wage: £152.25 - £287.35 Weekly
    • Location: Frodsham

    Courses In England

    Geography

    • Provider: SIR ROGER MANWOOD'S SCHOOL
    • Start date: 03 September 2021
    • Location: Sandwich

    Geography

    • Provider: THE CRYPT SCHOOL
    • Start date: 01 September 2021
    • Location: Gloucester

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