Cartographer Job Description

A cartographer is someone who makes maps, but there's more to mapping than most people realize. Cartographers are employed by many different types of industries, and make a wide range of maps for a variety of purposes.

white and green state maps

The work can be very challenging, requiring the use of specialized equipment and/or software as well as familiarity with an area or industry. The work can also be very rewarding and interesting, and leaves room for a lot of creativity.


Cartographers are employed primarily by:

  • Companies that want to map out their own property or surrounding land areas in order to better understand/manage it;
  • Software companies who sell mapping software;
  • Publishing companies who produce maps; • Mobile device companies (smart phones, GPS units) who sell maps;
  • Local governments and law enforcement agencies who need to make maps for specific areas;
  • Printing companies that want to print maps on products or in magazines/newspapers.
  • Researchers at universities or other research facilities;
  • The military and any company that needs detailed information about the location of troops;
  • Environmental groups that want to understand and promote environmental conservation.


The use of maps is not just limited to paper—maps are used in many different ways on the internet and via mobile devices.


Most cartographers who are employed in the field have a bachelor's degree. The degree can be in any subject, however—cartography is not necessarily its own specific discipline, and it often crosses over with geography or geology. Cartographers need to know how to use mapping software as well as learning about terrain and the specific environment they are mapping.


Some jobs do require specialized training and licensing, though that is uncommon for cartographers who work for research facilities or mobile device companies. Many of these types of companies hire people with little prior knowledge, then train them in-house as needed.


Some large software firms employ cartographers exclusively—in such cases, a degree and prior experience in mapping would be a big plus for employment.


The salary of cartographers can vary widely depending on the position, but averages are usually between $32,000-$100,000 per year (2010). Some cartographers do make more than that—the best-paid cartographer jobs are at companies like Google and Microsoft.

Statistics on Cartographers


  • Employment of cartographers and photogrammetrists is projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations. (
  • The lowest 10 percent earned less than $42,980, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $108,890. (
  • Architects, surveyors, and cartographers Employment of cartographers and photogrammetrists is projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations. (
  • The average growth rate for all occupations is 4 percent. (

Articles On Cartographers


Cartographers and Photogrammetrists: Occupational Outlook Handbook: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Cartographers and photogrammetrists collect, measure, and interpret geographic information in order to create and update maps and charts for regional planning, education, and other purposes. (


Cartographer - Career Rankings, Salary, Reviews and Advice

Cartographers draw maps for a living. And maps are used for more than just atlases. You'll find them in newspapers, helping readers... (


Cartography - Wikipedia (


Cartographers and Photogrammetrists (


Why Cartographer Jobs Are Still Relevant in the 21st Century (


Cartographer job profile

Discover what it takes to be a Cartographer. Find out expected salary, working hours, qualifications and more. (


What does a cartographer do? - CareerExplorer

The first maps were manually constructed with brushes and parchment, dating back many centuries. From the 15th to the 17th century, during the Age of Exploration, cartographers used these maps that had been passed down through the centuries to create new ones based on new surveying techniques and ex... (

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