Cartographer Job Description

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.

Maps And Detailed Geographical Information Are Needed For A Range Of Purposes, From Everyday Use By Individuals To Large-scale Industrial Development.

Cartographers Work Within A Variety Of Areas, Including Publishing, Government, Surveying And Conservation. The Role Varies Widely From The Development And Design Of Geographical Information To More Strategic And Technical Work.

The Traditional Methods Employed In Map-making Have Been Superseded By The Use Of IT, Enabling The Generation And Manipulation Of Dynamic Images On Screen. These Developments Have Led To Changes In The Nature Of The Profession: Within Map-making, Almost All The Data Is Now Collected And Transmitted Electronically, Whereas In Cartographic Illustration The Change Has Been Less Marked. In Commercial Cartographic Publishing, The Work Has More In Common With Book Publishing, Requiring Innovative Design Skills.

A Cartographer's Role Can Vary Widely; From The Technical Role Of The Development, Maintenance And Manipulation Of Cartographic Databases To The Promotion Of Effective And Efficient Visualisation Of Geospatial Information, To The Design Of Bespoke Maps.

A Keen Eye For Detail And A Methodical Approach Are Required, As Much Of The Work Involves Careful Research, The Collection And Manipulation Of Data – Much Of Which Is Now Done Electronically, And Checking For Accuracy. Another Important Part Of A Cartographer's Role Is Liaising With External Contacts Regarding The Supply Of Information, And With Customers About Their Requirements.

Cartographer Duties/Functions/Responsibilities

  • designing maps, graphics, illustrations and layouts;
  • communicating information through the use of colour, symbols, style and other means;
  • 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);
  • 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;
  • 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;
  • keeping up to date with emerging specialist software;
  • managing projects, staff and resources, particularly as seniority increases.
  • generalising map data to allow for a reduction in scale (derived mapping);
  • operating a photogrammetric plotting instrument or a digital photogrammetric workstation (DPW), which views the photographs stereoscopically, or in a 3D format;
  • checking and appraising the content and accuracy of maps, charts and printing proofs;

Similar roles in this field are that of a photogrammatrist and a remote sensing scientist. Both these occupations involve the use of technology to analyse and interpret information.

A photogrammatrist 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.

Remote sensing scientists use radio and light sensors to collect and analyse data for the purpose of solving regional, national and global problems such as the management of natural resources, urban planning and climate and weather prediction.

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