Cartographers collect information about the geography of an area to design and produce maps, charts and plans.
Salary Range: £18,000 to £45,000
How to become a cartographer
You can get into this job through:
- a university course
- an apprenticeship
- working towards this role
- experience in the armed forces
You can take a degree in:
- geographical information systems (GIS)
- land surveying
- earth sciences
Employers may also accept degrees in other subjects like computer science, software engineering or graphic design.
A postgraduate qualification may help you to find work in a specialist field of cartography like GIS.
You’ll usually need:
- 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
- a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study
- equivalent entry requirements
- student finance for fees and living costs
- university courses and entry requirements
You could complete a geospatial survey technician advanced apprenticeship, or geospatial mapping degree apprenticeship.
You’ll usually need:
- 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship
You may be able to get into this job by starting as a trainee cartographic technician and working your way up.
Employers may look for an apprenticeship in geospatial surveying, or A levels or equivalent, in geography, art and design, mathematics or computing.
After you leave the services, you could use your experience to find work in commercial cartography and mapping.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- knowledge of geography
- maths knowledge
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- analytical thinking skills
- excellent written communication skills
- excellent verbal communication skills
- design skills and knowledge
- the ability to work well with others
- to be able to use a computer and the main software packages confidently
What you’ll do
In this role you could be :
- using desktop publishing and specialist computer software
- designing digital or paper based maps
- checking maps and charts are accurate and to scale
- editing maps, adding and removing new roads, structures or landmarks
- collecting and analysing data from remote sensors on satellites and planes
- using GIS to model and analyse landscape features
- plotting the heights and positions of geographical features from aerial photographs
- carrying out topographic surveys of the land and hydrographic surveys of the sea and coastal areas
You could work in an office.
Career path and progression
With experience you could become a senior cartographer and manage mapping projects and staff.
If you specialise in working with GIS, you could apply for Chartered Geographer (GIS) status.
You could also work on a freelance basis, but you’ll need your own mapping equipment.