Advice Corner

Careers In The Arts: Cartographer/Photogrammetric

What Does A Cartographer Do?

A cartographer is involved with the scientific, technological and artistic aspects of developing and producing maps. Cartographers present complex information as diagrams, charts and spreadsheets, as well as in the form of conventional maps. Geographical information systems (GIS) and digital-mapping techniques now dominate the role. A photogrammetric measures and interprets photographic images in order to get information about a range of three-dimensional objects. This information is used in the production of maps and cartographic information.


What Are The Duties Of A Cartographer?

The duties of a cartographer may include:

• Designing maps, graphics, illustrations and layouts;
• Communicating information through the use of colour, symbols, style and other means;
• Using computers to compile and produce graphs for specialist and general users;
• Researching, selecting and evaluating map source data for use in the preparation or revision of maps and charts to various scales;
• Analysing and evaluating mappable information;
• Liaising with surveyors and designers;
• Collating data provided by remote sensing techniques (the means by which spatial and environmental data about the earth are acquired by sensors located in satellites and aircraft);
• Operating a photogrammetric plotting instrument or a digital photogrammetric workstation (dpw), which views the photographs stereoscopically, or in a 3d format;
• Design, maintenance and manipulation of geographical information (gi) databases;
• Working with geographical information systems (gis) to see, model and analyse landscape features;
• Using desktop publishing packages to edit and formulate information;
• Capturing, maintaining and outputting digital geographic data;
• Generalising map data to allow for a reduction in scale (derived mapping);
• Checking and appraising the content and accuracy of maps, charts and printing proofs;
• Keeping up to date with emerging specialist software;
• Managing projects, staff and resources, particularly as seniority increases

How Much Does A Cartographer Get Paid?

The median annual wage for cartographers and photogrammetrists was $57,440 in May 2012 (R676 42722.01).

Education And Training Requirements?

You will be trained on the job in a range of specialist surveying techniques and computer packages. Larger employers, such as government departments, often run structured training schemes lasting from six months to two years.
You could also take short courses in subjects like photogrammetry, GIS, digital mapping and map design. The Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Society and several universities offer various useful short courses.

To work as a cartographer, you will usually need a degree in one of the following subjects:

• Geography
• Geographical Information Systems (Gis)
• Surveying And Mapping Science
• Topographic Science
• Earth Sciences
• Urban And Land Studies

Skills And Personal Traits Of A Cartographer

To be a cartographer, you should have the following skills:

• A keen interest in geography and the environment
• Excellent computer and mathematical skills
• Design skills
• Good spatial awareness
• The ability to analyse information from different sources
• Patience
• A logical approach
• A high level of accuracy and attention to detail

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