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What Does a Cartographer and Photogrammetrist Do? (Full Guide)

What Does a Cartographer and Photogrammetrist Do

Do you enjoy creating detailed maps of the world around you? 

If you have excellent attention to detail, a career as a Cartographer and Photogrammetrist could be perfect for you. This job mainly involves creating and interpreting maps, charts, and related documents. These are then used by a wide range of industries, including regional planning, business and marketing, and education. 

These professionals are also known as geographic information specialists and spend years honing their skills. 

So, let’s find out what does a Cartographer and Photogrammetrist do?

Duties and Responsibilities

Duties and Responsibilities

There is a certain set of tasks that typically go with this type of job. It is important to make sure you understand all of them and can complete them to professional standards. Here are some of the main duties and responsibilities you are likely to be charged with. 

Collecting data

You will regularly travel to different types of geological locations to collect geographic data. This will include spatial data that relates to the distance and elevation of different geographical points. You may also use light-imaging detection and ranging technology to collect data on the location and density of forests.

Analyzing data

Once data has been located from a location, you need to analyze it to create impressions of the area. You may be charged with examining data from ground surveys, satellite images, aerial photographs, and reports. You need to keep a wide range of geographical information into account to create overall impressions. 

Utilizing data

You will then use the data to create a visual representation. This includes annual precipitation patterns and land shifts over time. You may also be charged with developing base maps that allow Geographic Information System data to be layered on top. These maps may be used by governments in public safety and national security work. 

Developing maps

You will regularly prepare geographic and digital maps that can be used for educational and environmental purposes. This is likely to include revising and updating existing charts and maps. 

You may also be charged with designing maps for navigation systems and mobile platforms. These maps may contain information about demographic characteristics and population density. Detailed and accurate maps can help emergency responders provide rapid assistance in emergencies. 

The Work Environment

The Work Environment

This is usually a full-time job, and much of the work takes place in an office setting. However, it is often necessary to travel to different locations to conduct fieldwork. Travel time and expenses are covered while conducting fieldwork, and this can also result in overtime. 

Important Skills And Attributes

You are likely to spend several years learning and mastering the technical skills needed to do this job. You also need to develop a set of core soft skills that will affect your approach to different tasks. Here are the main skills and attributes you need to develop to do the job well. 

Computer skills

Technology literacy

You need to have experience working with coding and computer data. You need to be able to create and digitally edit maps on a computer. It is necessary to have detailed knowledge of computer software and hardware, electronic equipment, circuit boards, chips, and processors.

It is worth taking a course to learn about web-based mapping technologies. This should include modern methods of compiling data for mobile applications and navigation systems. 

Technical skills

You need to be familiar with different types of equipment, such as light-imaging detection and ranging technology. It is important to have in-depth knowledge to work with them easily and stay up to date.

Critical-thinking skills

You will spend a lot of time analyzing different types of data. It is essential to be able to determine the accuracy and importance of each feature that has been mapped. This will allow you to draw insightful and useful conclusions. 

Decision-making skills

You will need to determine how readable and accurate the maps you are working with are. You need to keep the needs of your client firmly in mind when collecting data. This will help guide you during fieldwork and map creation tasks. 

Attention to detail

The tiniest details can have an important effect when interpreting data and aerial photographs. You need to train yourself to focus on large amounts of data for long periods. The smallest lapses in concentrations can lead to errors and inconsistencies. 

Problem-solving skills

You are likely to find that there are different types of data that you collect and analyze. This includes land surveys, aerial photographs, and satellite images. Problem-solving skills will help you find ways to reconcile these differences. 

Geographical knowledge

You need to have a deep knowledge of the methods and principles that are used to describe geographical features. This includes the physical characteristics of different air masses, land, and sea locations. You also need to understand the interrelationships between areas and the distribution of human, animal, and plant life. 


The maps you create must be aesthetically pleasing as well as accurate and detailed. You need to have detailed knowledge of various design techniques and tools. You also need to understand the process of creating precise technical plans, models, blueprints, and drawings. 

Math skills

Math skills

You need to have detailed knowledge of algebra, arithmetic calculus, and geometry. It is also worth considering taking a special course in statistics. Brushing up on your math skills will help you make quick and accurate calculations.  

What Does a Cartographer and Photogrammetrist Do? – Job Requirements 

You need to complete a bachelor’s degree to land an entry-level job. The best subjects to choose from include cartography, geomatics, geography, and surveying. It is best to make sure the coursework includes classes in mathematics, engineering, and natural resources. 

It is also a good idea to complete an internship to gain hands-on experience. Many colleges and universities help students find internships during their summer break. This is also a good way to make connections that can lead to full-time work when you graduate. 

Licenses and certifications

Licenses and certifications

You need to gain a license before you can work independently, and the requirements tend to vary in different parts of the country. Generally speaking, you will need to meet the educational requirements and pass a test to prove your knowledge and skills.

You can gain advanced certification through the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing. Alternatively, you can prove your GIS skills by getting certified by the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation. Both of these certifications can give you access to a more advanced job once you gain work experience. 

Professional Organizations

Joining a professional organization can help you take your career to the next level. Opting for professional membership gives you access to the latest research data and special conferences and networking events. Many of these organizations also offer licensing and other professional qualifications. 

Cartography and Geographic Information Society 

This is one of the largest networks of professionals in the fields of research, education, and fieldwork. Members are treated to the latest publications and research in their area of specialization. There is also a dedicated careers section on the official website where you can find useful information. 

American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing 

This offers a wealth of information about careers in the field and comes complete with a job board. If you are just embarking on your career path, you can join the student mentoring program. The annual conference is the perfect place to make connections, while there are also regular webinars and workshops to join. 

Association of American Geographers 

This is another great place to learn detailed information and make connections in various fields. The Association of American Geographers hosts regular webinars and other types of events. The association’s website also comes with an official resource hub where you can find all of the latest research information.

United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation 

If you are interested in teaching and research, make sure you join the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation. This organization is dedicated to gathering the latest information in the field and providing educational resources. Becoming a member also gives you access to the community forum and events such as symposiums and galas.

Perfect Your Resume For the Job

Before we get to your all-important resume, you might be interested in checking out our GIS Analyst Job Description and GIS Specialist Job Description to see if either would be of interest.

Now, let’s help you prepare for the big day with our CV guides, such as our Best Resume Introduction Examples, our Best Font for a Resume, along with our top Resume Accomplishments Examples, our Top Hard Skills to Put on a Resume, and how to list Work Experience On A Resume in 2023.

We also cover How to Tailor Your Resume to a Specific Job Description, or perhaps you’d like to know How Long Should A Resume Be, our Best Opening Statement Examples For Resumes, followed by our Best Resume Format Guide, and How to List Cum Laude on a Resume.

What Does a Cartographer and Photogrammetrist Do? – Final Thoughts

If you are interested in geography and conducting fieldwork, this can be a very rewarding career. While Cartographers and Photogrammetrists spend a lot of time in the office, there are also fieldwork opportunities. You can also develop specialist skills and focus on a particular area of map creation and interpretation.

The average salary for this role is around $70,000 per year. However, working for the federal government gives you access to a much higher salary. The top earners in this field can make at least $100,000 per year.

All the very best working as a Cartographer and Photogrammetrist!

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