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Career Profile: Cartographers and Photogrammetrists

Research, study, and prepare maps and other spatial data in digital or graphic form for one or more purposes, such as legal, social, political, educational, and design purposes. May work with Geographic Information Systems (GIS). May design and evaluate algorithms, data structures, and user interfaces for GIS and mapping systems. May collect, analyze, and interpret geographic information provided by geodetic surveys, aerial photographs, and satellite data.

Salary and Outlook

According to the US Department of Labor, there are 13,200 people employed as cartographers and photogrammetrists in the United States. The median annual salary is $68,400. Entry level employees earn approximately $42,980 per year and senior employees earn approximately $108,890 per year.

Estimates do not include other potential benefits such as health insurance, overtime pay, or retirement benefits that may be offered by employers.

Job Duties

  • Identify, scale, and orient geodetic points, elevations, and other planimetric or topographic features, applying standard mathematical formulas.
  • Collect information about specific features of the Earth, using aerial photography and other digital remote sensing techniques.
  • Examine and analyze data from ground surveys, reports, aerial photographs, and satellite images to prepare topographic maps, aerial-photograph mosaics, and related charts.
  • Build and update digital databases.
  • Determine map content and layout, as well as production specifications such as scale, size, projection, and colors, and direct production to ensure that specifications are followed.
  • Determine guidelines that specify which source material is acceptable for use.
  • Select aerial photographic and remote sensing techniques and plotting equipment needed to meet required standards of accuracy.
  • Travel over photographed areas to observe, identify, record, and verify all relevant features.
  • Prepare and alter trace maps, charts, tables, detailed drawings, and three-dimensional optical models of terrain using stereoscopic plotting and computer graphics equipment.
  • Study legal records to establish boundaries of local, national, and international properties.
  • Inspect final compositions to ensure completeness and accuracy.
  • Revise existing maps and charts, making all necessary corrections and adjustments.
  • Compile data required for map preparation, including aerial photographs, survey notes, records, reports, and original maps.
  • Delineate aerial photographic detail, such as control points, hydrography, topography, and cultural features, using precision stereoplotting apparatus or drafting instruments.

Career List

Job Outlook


Total Current Jobs:
13,200
Annual Openings:
1,200
Increase in Openings by 2030:
5%
Annual Salary Range:
$42,980 - $108,890
Education Requirements:
Bachelor's degree