Cartographer and Photogrammetrist Career
Cartographers and Photogrammetrists collect, analyze, and interpret geographic information provided by geodetic surveys, aerial photographs, and satellite data. Research, study, and prepare maps and other spatial data in digital or graphic form for legal, social, political, educational, and design purposes.
Common Work Tasks
- Collect, analyze, interpret, and map geographic information from surveys and from data and photographs collected using airplanes and satellites
- Perform geographical research, compile data, and producing maps
- Collect, analyze, and interpret both spatial data—such as latitude, longitude, elevation, and distance—and nonspatial data—for example, population density, land-use patterns, annual precipitation levels, and demographic characteristics
- Prepare maps in either digital or graphic form, using information provided by geodetic surveys and remote sensing systems including aerial cameras, satellites, and LIDAR
- Use GIS to assemble, integrate, analyze, and display data about location in a digital format
- Identify, scale, and orient geodetic points, elevations, and other planimetric or topographic features, applying standard mathematical formulas
- Revise existing maps and charts, making all necessary corrections and adjustments
- Compile data required for map preparation, including aerial photographs, survey notes, records, reports, and original maps
Other Job Titles
Cartographers and Photogrammetrists are also known by other titles, including:
- CADD Operators
- Civil Drafters
- Surveying and Mapping Technicians
- Architectural Drafters
Education, Training, and Experience
Education and Training
Cartographers and photogrammetrists usually have a bachelor’s degree in cartography, geography, surveying, engineering, forestry, computer science, or a physical science, although a few enter these positions after working as technicians. With the development of GIS, cartographers and photogrammetrists need more education and stronger technical skills—including more experience with computers—than in the past.
Licensure and Certification
A number of States require cartographers and photogrammetrists to be licensed as surveyors, and some States have specific licenses for photogrammetrists.
Cartographers and photogrammetrists should be able to visualize objects, distances, sizes, and abstract forms. They must work with precision and accuracy because mistakes can be costly.
The median annual salary for Cartographers and Photogrammetrists is $50,000. The top 10 percent earn more than $83,000, and the lowest 10 percent earn less than $32,000. Median earnings in the industries employing the largest number of cartographers and photogrammetrists are:
- Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services - $53,360
- Local Government - $51,100
- Federal Executive Branch - $75,200
- Data Processing, Hosting, and Related Services - $55,800
- State Government - $51,250
- 2006-2016 Employment growth: 20%
- Number of new jobs created 2006-2016: 2,500
- Employment 2006 : 12,000
- Employment 2016: 15,000