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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)

£15,500 Starter

to

£45,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

39 to 41 a week

You could work

evenings occasionally

How to become

Explore the different ways to get into this role.

How to become a cartographer

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
  • 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

The following apprenticeships may be relevant to this role;

  • Level 6 Geospatial mapping
  • Level 3 Geospatial survey technician

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

You can find out more information from:

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
  • 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

Career tips

Cartographers are employed in the armed services and public sector organisations like Ordnance Survey. In the private sector they may work in a variety of industries like publishing, surveying or oil companies.

Further information

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

What it takes

Find out what skills you’ll use in this role.

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
  • design skills and knowledge
  • the ability to work well with others
  • concentration skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages confidently

What you’ll do

Discover the day to day tasks you’ll do in this role.

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

Look at progression in this role and similar opportunities.

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

Find apprenticeships, courses and jobs available near you.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Apprentice Surveyor

  • Wage: £846.40 Monthly
  • Location: Liverpool

Courses In England

Geography

  • Provider: THE LEIGH ACADEMY
  • Start date: 01 September 2021
  • Location: Dartford

Geography

  • Provider: RAINHAM SCHOOL FOR GIRLS
  • Start date: 31 August 2021
  • Location: GILLINGHAM

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