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Software & systems

Cartographer

Cartographers collect information about the geography of an area to design and produce maps, charts and plans.

Annual Salary

£18,000 to £45,000

Average UK salary in 2019 was £30,378
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

39 to 41 a week

You could work: evenings; occasionally

1%
Future employment

There will be 1% more Cartographer jobs in 2026.
In your local area

Day to day tasks

In this role you could:

  • use desktop publishing and specialist computer software
  • design digital or paper based maps
  • check maps and charts are accurate and to scale
  • edit maps by adding or removing new roads, structures or landmarks
  • collect and analyse data from remote sensors on satellites and planes
  • use GIS to model and analyse landscape features
  • plot the heights and positions of geographical features from photographs
  • carry out surveys of the land, sea or coastal areas

Working environment

You could work in an office.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
  • the armed forces
University

You can take a degree in:

  • geography
  • geographical information systems (GIS)
  • land surveying
  • earth sciences
  • oceanography

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.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study
For more information
Apprenticeship

The following apprenticeships may be relevant to this role:

  • geospatial and mapping science specialist degree apprenticeship
  • geospatial survey technician advanced apprenticeship

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship
For more information
Work

You may be able to get into this job by starting as a trainee cartographic technician and working your way up.

Employers may expect you to have completed:

  • an apprenticeship in geospatial surveying
  • A levels in geography, art and design, mathematics or computing
  • a relevant level 3 course

Other routes

If you want to work as a cartographer in the armed forces, you can apply to become a geographic technician with the Army or the join the Royal Air Force an air cartographer.

When you leave the services, you could use your experience to find work in commercial cartography and mapping.

More information

Career tips

You can find cartography jobs in the private and public sector.

Look for opportunities with:Ordnance Survey; local and national government departments; transport companies; publishing companies; surveying or oil companies; the armed services

Professional and industry bodies

You could join the British Cartographic Society for networking, information resources and career development support.

Further information

You can find out more about a career in cartography from:the British Cartographic Society; Ordnance Survey

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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 as a consultant.

You can find out more about a career in cartography from the British Cartographic Society and Ordnance Survey.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • knowledge of geography
  • maths knowledge
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • analytical thinking skills
  • excellent written communication skills
  • design skills and knowledge
  • the ability to work well with others
  • concentration skills
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages confidently
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