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Career profile Cartographer

Also known as Aerial Photogrammetrist, Cartographer, Cartographic Designer, Digital Cartographer, Mapper, Photogrammetric Technician, Photogrammetrist, Stereo Compiler, Stereoplotter Operator

Cartographer

Also known as Aerial Photogrammetrist, Cartographer, Cartographic Designer

Interests Profile
  • Realistic
  • Conventional
  • Investigative
Pay Range
$42,980 - $108,890 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Writing
  • Critical Thinking
Knowledge Areas
  • Geography
  • Computers and Electronics
  • Design
Core tasks
  • Compile data required for map preparation, including aerial photographs, survey notes, records, reports, and original maps.
  • Delineate aerial photographic detail, such as control points, hydrography, topography, and cultural features, using precision stereoplotting apparatus or drafting instruments.
  • Prepare and alter trace maps, charts, tables, detailed drawings, and three-dimensional optical models of terrain using stereoscopic plotting and computer graphics equipment.
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What does a Cartographer do?

Cartographers research, study, and prepare maps and other spatial data in digital or graphic form for one or more purposes, such as legal, social, political, educational, and design purposes.

In addition, Cartographers

  • may work with Geographic Information Systems (GIS),
  • may design and evaluate algorithms, data structures, and user interfaces for GIS and mapping systems,
  • may collect, analyze, and interpret geographic information provided by geodetic surveys, aerial photographs, and satellite data.

What kind of tasks does a Cartographer perform regularly?

Cartographers are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Compile data required for map preparation, including aerial photographs, survey notes, records, reports, and original maps.
  • Delineate aerial photographic detail, such as control points, hydrography, topography, and cultural features, using precision stereoplotting apparatus or drafting instruments.
  • Prepare and alter trace maps, charts, tables, detailed drawings, and three-dimensional optical models of terrain using stereoscopic plotting and computer graphics equipment.
  • Study legal records to establish boundaries of local, national, and international properties.
  • Inspect final compositions to ensure completeness and accuracy.
  • Revise existing maps and charts, making all necessary corrections and adjustments.
  • Identify, scale, and orient geodetic points, elevations, and other planimetric or topographic features, applying standard mathematical formulas.
  • Collect information about specific features of the Earth, using aerial photography and other digital remote sensing techniques.
  • Examine and analyze data from ground surveys, reports, aerial photographs, and satellite images to prepare topographic maps, aerial-photograph mosaics, and related charts.
  • Build and update digital databases.
  • Determine map content and layout, as well as production specifications such as scale, size, projection, and colors, and direct production to ensure that specifications are followed.

The above responsibilities are specific to Cartographers. More generally, Cartographers are involved in several broader types of activities:

Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Working with Computers
Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards
Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems
Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.

What is a Cartographer salary?

The median salary for a Cartographer is $68,380, and the average salary is $72,420. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Cartographer salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Cartographers earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Cartographers earn less than $42,980 per year, 25% earn less than $54,110, 75% earn less than $88,620, and 90% earn less than $108,890.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Cartographers is expected to change by 5.3%, and there should be roughly 1,200 open positions for Cartographers every year.

Median annual salary
$68,380
Typical salary range
$42,980 - $108,890
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
5.3%

What personality traits are common among Cartographers?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Cartographer are usually higher in their Realistic, Conventional, and Investigative interests.

Cartographers typically have strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Also, Cartographers typically have strong Conventional interests. Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Lastly, Cartographers typically have strong Investigative interests. Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Cartographer tend to value Achievement, Independence, and Working Conditions.

Most importantly, Cartographers strongly value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Second, Cartographers moderately value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Lastly, Cartographers moderately value Working Conditions. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Cartographers must consistently demonstrate qualities such as attention to detail, dependability, and cooperation.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Cartographers, ranked by importance:

Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Cooperation
Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
Adaptability/Flexibility
Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
Innovation
Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.

What education and training do Cartographers need?

Many Cartographers will have a four-year bachelor's degree, but some do not.

Cartographers usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.

Educational degrees among Cartographers

  • 0.1% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 3.4% completed high school or secondary school
  • 11.0% completed some college coursework
  • 12.4% earned a Associate's degree
  • 60.0% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 9.9% earned a Master's degree
  • 3.2% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Cartographers

Cartographers may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as geography, computers and electronics, or design knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Cartographers might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Geography
Knowledge of principles and methods for describing the features of land, sea, and air masses, including their physical characteristics, locations, interrelationships, and distribution of plant, animal, and human life.
Computers and Electronics
Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Design
Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
Mathematics
Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.

Important Abilities needed by Cartographers

Cartographers must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Cartographers need abilities such as written comprehension, oral comprehension, and near vision in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Cartographers, ranked by their relative importance.

Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Near Vision
The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
Inductive Reasoning
The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
Deductive Reasoning
The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.

Critical Skills needed by Cartographers

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Cartographers frequently use skills like reading comprehension, writing, and critical thinking to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Cartographers, ranked by their relative importance.

Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
Writing
Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Active Learning
Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

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