How to start a career in cartography


This article is about becoming a cartographer and designing maps to provide geographical information to various institutions and various departments. So, to build a career in cartography, the students should develop some skills and should focus upon some subjects at degree level. Then they can study a master's degree or a post-graduate diploma in cartography. In this article, the roles and responsibilities of a cartographer are also discussed.

A cartographer is a professional who is engaged in drawing and revising maps. Everybody knows the story of Columbus, the explorer who discovered a New World known as America in 1492. He was a cartographer and a great sailor. He was able to explore different parts of the world which were totally unexplored before. So a student can aspire to become a cartographer and draw world maps. These maps are useful to every institution as they provide comprehensive information to travellers across the world.

Building a career in cartography

Cartography is a great career path for spatial thinkers. They learn the art of collecting geographical data, analyzing spatial data, and mapping. In the course, they are taught to think spatially. The cartographers always understand the geographical locations and the environment properly. So, the students acquire the following skills by studying the cartography course.
a. Spatial thinking
b. Organizational skills
c. Programming skills
d. Designing skills
e. Critical thinking and analytical skills

A student can acquire a Post Graduate Diploma in Geographical Cartography and the duration of the course is 2 years. Alternatively, a student can also acquire B.Sc degree in Geography. The duration of the course is 3 years. After completing a bachelor's degree, the student can complete M.Sc in Geoinformatics.

Career to become a cartographer

The student should complete a bachelor's degree from a reputed institution. These programs are usually hosted by a Geographical Department. The students usually acquire a degree in geography and the students who want to complete a degree course should study computers and the other technical aspects. Some of the community colleges offer varied courses on cartography. Some students aspiring to become a cartographer usually attain a bachelor's degree in cartography, surveying engineering, physical science, forestry, etc. The students who want to become a cartographer should take a keen interest in trigonometry, algebra, computer science, mechanical drawing and geometry in high school.

Today due to advancement in technology, the students should be familiarized with GIS technology. They should also learn web-based mapping technologies. Then based upon the data, they should prepare thematic maps in digital forms for various purposes such as educational, political arena, forest departments, or any other professionals such as environmentalists, etc. Then, they should revise the maps and make some rectifications.

Role and responsibilities of a cartographer

The cartographers should collect geographical data such as population density, rainfall patterns, and some demographic factors of the place.

They should be able to compile data surveyed from the ground, extract aerial photographs, and also examine the satellite images for preparing thermal maps. A cartographer is also known as geographic information specialist because he extracts geographical information from information technologies. He also designs the maps and collects the required information from the map. He should analyze the collected information from the map to design the map.

Scope for a cartographer

The cartographer usually works in governmental organizations. This work involves intense research and hence they can work as a surveyor also. The cartographers work as map makers or map users.

Colleges and universities offering cartography courses

University of California Los Angeles USA

It is one of the renowned universities offering undergraduate and graduate programs in cartography and geography. The students study the course by performing experiments and real-life activities that are essential in the future for the cartographer. The students can thus study the geographical information in the best manner.

Boston University USA

This university offers the best course in cartography. In this university, the students can learn various undergraduate and graduate environmental science courses to gain a deeper understanding of the world. It also offers various internship programs.

University of Glasgow U.K

In this university, the students can study any of the three PG cartography courses in Geoinformation Technology and Cartography - M.Sc./PG Diploma/PG Certificate. Students can study a full-time course for 12 months. This course entails the management of the location data to utilize the Geographical Information System. They study the map production and visualization concept in a GIS environment. The students can get access to ArcGIS, graphic designing, and remote sensing etc.

Curtin University Australia

They offer three types of courses, namely Graduate Certificate in Geospatial Intelligence, Graduate Diploma in Geospatial Intelligence, and Masters in Geospatial Intelligence. The certificate course is held for 6 months and the master's course is held for 2 years. They can learn the applications and principals of the geographical information system, including defence, agriculture, urban planning and remote sensing.

Indian Institute of Surveying and Mapping

This institute was established in 1967 and they offer nearly 100 batches of such courses every year. The students learn different aspects of Geo-Spatial information, digital mapping, GIS, Photogrammetry, remote sensing, management and remote sensing extracting information from external sources.


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