Cartographer  What They Do

Just the Facts


Cartographers and Photogrammetrists Career Video



Collects, analyzes, and interprets geographic information provided by geodetic surveys, aerial photographs, and satellite data. Researches, studies, and prepares maps and other spatial data in digital or graphic form for 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.

This career is part of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics cluster Science and Mathematics pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Compiles data required for map preparation, including aerial photographs, survey notes, records, reports, and original maps.
  • Delineates aerial photographic detail, such as control points, hydrography, topography, and cultural features, using precision stereoplotting apparatus or drafting instruments.
  • Prepares and alters trace maps, charts, tables, detailed drawings, and three-dimensional optical models of terrain using stereoscopic plotting and computer graphics equipment.
  • Studies legal records to establish boundaries of local, national, and international properties.
  • Inspects final compositions to ensure completeness and accuracy.
  • Revises existing maps and charts, making all necessary corrections and adjustments.
  • Identifies, scales, and orients geodetic points, elevations, and other planimetric or topographic features, applying standard mathematical formulas.
  • Collects information about specific features of the Earth, using aerial photography and other digital remote sensing techniques.
  • Examines and analyzes data from ground surveys, reports, aerial photographs, and satellite images to prepare topographic maps, aerial-photograph mosaics, and related charts.
  • Builds and updates digital databases.

Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would sit most of the time. There's some walking and standing. You may have to lift and carry things like books, papers or tools weighing 10 lbs. or less.
  • Work in this occupation involves using your hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Sound and noise levels are loud and distracting
  • Work in this occupation involves making repetitive motions more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves sitting more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Seeing clearly at a distance
  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person

Work Hours and Travel

  • Regular working hours and limited travel

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Aerial Photogrammetrist --
  • Cartographic Designer --
  • Compiler --
  • Digital Cartographer --
  • Mapper --
  • Photogrammetric Technician --
  • Photogrammetrist --
  • Stereo Compiler --
  • Stereoplotter Operator --