A cartographer specializes in creating, analyzing and editing maps of geographic regions. The cartographer’s job involves a wide array of tasks, from collecting the required information to analyzing and implementing it properly. Cartographers usually receive their input from various sources, such as various information systems and spreadsheets with complex data. A cartographer frequently has to interpret numeric data into a human-readable form, such as a finalized map. Additionally, a cartographer may be tasked with overlaying extra data over a pre-made map, generating heatmaps and other useful resources.
Cartography is taught at many universities as a separate discipline, and a Bachelor’s in it is usually required for becoming a cartographer. It’s not a strict requirement though, as Bachelor’s degrees in other related disciplines such as geography are also accepted. Additionally, a cartographer may learn their trade from working around more experienced cartographers as a technician or another related job. Good knowledge of working with computers is of great benefit to candidates as the job involves using different kinds of software for analysis purposes.
Cartographers tend to be paid highly for the amount of work they’re doing. The 2009 median salary was $43,000, and a cartographer can earn up to $63,000 a year if they’re successful and have long-running experience. Those just starting out in the industry can expect an annual salary of around $38,000 – $43,000, and the numbers tend to quickly go up in the first few years of employment, where a large portion of the experience needed is attained.