What Do Cartographers and Photogrammetrists Do?
Mapmaking is an ancient skill which is more important now than ever with contemporary data processing. Modern-day cartographers and photogrammetrists use information gathered by a wide array of technology, from land surveys to aerial and satellite photographs, to research and create maps, charts and graphics, and other types of physical and digital models. These models can be used for engineering and design, legal and political studies, government programs or education. You may also work on developing and evaluating the algorithms and interfaces for mapping and geographic modeling.Due to the increasing need for maps for government programs and planning, cartography is a rapidly expanding field. The number of jobs is predicted to grow by 20% between 2012 and 2022, with almost 500 new positions opening every year.
Cartographers and Photogrammetrists Skills and Abilities
You must have a strong knowledge of geography and mathematics in order to interpret the geographic data, as well as a good grasp of the techniques and principles of design necessary to produce technical plans and models to spec. Proficiency with computers is required, particularly with the design and graphics software which is used to produce maps, and you should have solid writing and communication skills in general.
Cartographers and Photogrammetrists Duties
As a cartographer, you will follow your client’s specifications to make a map, diagram or other model from a set of geographic data, using computer software and other methods. You’ll gather, evaluate and organize this data from a variety of sources, including ground survey notes and records, aerial photography, remote sensing and original maps. Photogrammetrists analyze geographic photographs in particular in order to chart and delineate specific characteristics, such as topography and elevation, landmarks or structures.You’ll revise and correct existing maps based on new data, and examine legal records to establish borders and other boundaries of local or national properties. You may build and update digital databases of geographic information. Some cartographers and photogrammetrists are also responsible for the data collection, going to the specific areas in question to survey by land or air, and to identify and verify any relevant features.
Cartographers and Photogrammetrists Tools and Technology
For data-gathering fieldwork, cartographers use digital cameras and survey-rated GPS devices. You may also use scanners to input existing hardcopy data. For making the maps and charts, you will use a variety of computer software, including:
- Computer aided design (CAD)
- Graphics and image editing
- Scientific analysis and vector plotting
- Specific map creation programsYou may use plotter printers to print physical copies of maps, and email, databases or online servers to distribute digital copies.
Education and Training for Cartographers and Photogrammetrists
The majority of cartography positions require a four-year bachelor’s degree. The most applicable degrees are in the fields of cartography, geography or civil engineering. On-the-job training is usually provided for entry-level positions, but in some states you may need to be licensed in order to practice cartography professionally.
Cartographers and Photogrammetrists Salary
As a job requiring a college degree and a specific skillset, salaries come fairly high. While they vary depending on location and experience, the lowest paid cartographers and photogrammetrists start at about $38,000 a year, while the median position gets around $60,000, and the top ten percent make over $97,000 a year.
Cartographers and Photogrammetrists Jobs by Geography
Cartography positions are widely distributed across the country and locations. California and Texas have the most jobs, while Florida, Virginia and Nevada offer the highest paying positions. Some cartographer and photogrammetrist jobs may require a significant amount of travel to survey land, so depending on the nature of the work, your location may be less important than for many employment situations.