Cartographers and Photogrammetrists

Summary

cartographers and photogrammetrists image
Cartographers and photogrammetrists measure, map, and chart the earth’s surface.
Quick Facts: Cartographers and Photogrammetrists
2015 Median Pay $61,880 per year
$29.75 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2014 12,300
Job Outlook, 2014-24 29% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2014-24 3,600

What Cartographers and Photogrammetrists Do

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

Work Environment

Although cartographers and photogrammetrists spend much of their time in offices, certain jobs require extensive travel to locations that are being mapped.

How to Become a Cartographer or Photogrammetrist

A bachelor’s degree in cartography, geography, geomatics (the discipline that combines the science, engineering, math, and art of collecting and managing geographically referenced information), or surveying is the most common path of entry into this occupation. Cartographers and photogrammetrists must be licensed in some states.

Pay

The median annual wage for cartographers and photogrammetrists was $61,880 in May 2015.

Job Outlook

Employment of cartographers and photogrammetrists is projected to grow 29 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. The increasing use of maps for government planning should fuel employment growth. For this reason, job prospects are likely to be excellent.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for cartographers and photogrammetrists.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of cartographers and photogrammetrists with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about cartographers and photogrammetrists by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Cartographers and Photogrammetrists Do About this section

Cartographers and photogrammetrists
Cartographers and photogrammetrists typically collect and verify data used in creating maps.

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.

Cartographers are mapmakers who design user-friendly maps. Photogrammetrists are specialized mapmakers who use aerial photographs, satellite images, and light-imaging detection and ranging (LIDAR) technology to build models of the Earth’s surface and its features for the purpose of creating maps.

Duties

Cartographers typically do the following:

  • Collect geographic data
  • Create visual representations of data, such as annual precipitation patterns
  • Examine and compile data from ground surveys, reports, aerial photographs, and satellite images
  • Prepare maps in digital or graphic form for environmental and educational purposes
  • Update and revise existing maps and charts

Photogrammetrists typically do the following:

  • Plan aerial and satellite surveys to ensure complete coverage of the area in question
  • Collect and analyze spatial data, such as elevation and distance
  • Develop base maps that allow geographic information system (GIS) data to be layered on top

Cartographers and photogrammetrists use information from geodetic surveys (land surveys that account for the curvature of the Earth’s surface) and remote-sensing systems, including aerial cameras and satellites. Some also use light-imaging detection and ranging (LIDAR) technology. LIDAR systems use lasers attached to planes or cars to digitally map the topography of the earth. Because LIDAR is often more accurate than traditional surveying methods, it can also be used to collect other forms of data, such as the location and density of forest canopies.

Cartographers and photogrammetrists increasingly work on online and mobile maps. Interactive maps are growing in popularity, and cartographers and photogrammetrists collect data and design these maps for mobile phones and navigation systems.

Cartographers and photogrammetrists also create maps and perform aerial surveys for governments to aid in urban and regional planning. Such maps may include information on population density and demographic characteristics. Some cartographers and photogrammetrists help build maps for government agencies for work involving national security and public safety. Accurate and updated maps help emergency responders provide assistance as quickly as possible.

A cartographer who uses GIS technology to create maps is often known as a geographic information specialist. GIS technology is typically used to assemble, integrate, analyze, and present spatial information in a digital format. Maps created with GIS technology combine spatial graphic features with nongraphic information. These maps are used to provide support for decisions involving environmental studies, geology, engineering, land-use planning, and business marketing.

Work Environment About this section

Cartographers and photogrammetrists
Cartographers may travel to the physical locations that they are mapping to better understand the topography of the region.

Cartographers and photogrammetrists held about 12,300 jobs in 2014. The industries that employed the most cartographers and photogrammetrists were as follows:

Architectural, engineering, and related services 33%
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 26
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 12

Although cartographers and photogrammetrists spend much of their time in offices, certain jobs require extensive fieldwork to acquire data and verify results. For example, cartographers may travel to the physical locations that they are mapping to better understand the topography of the region. Similarly, photogrammetrists may do fieldwork to plan ground control for an aerial survey and to validate interpretations.

Work Schedules

Most cartographers and photogrammetrists work full time. Those who do fieldwork may have longer workdays.

How to Become a Cartographer or Photogrammetrist About this section

Cartographers and photogrammetrists
Cartographers and photogrammetrists measure, analyze, and interpret geographic information to create maps and charts.

A bachelor’s degree in cartography, geography, geomatics, surveying, or a related field is the most common path of entry into this occupation. Some states require cartographers and photogrammetrists to be licensed as surveyors, and some states have specific licenses for photogrammetrists.

Education

Cartographers and photogrammetrists usually have a bachelor’s degree in cartography, geography, geomatics, or surveying. (Geomatics combines the science, engineering, math, and art of collecting and managing geographically referenced information.) Although it is not as common, some have a bachelor’s degree in engineering, forestry, or computer science.

Growing use of geographic information system (GIS) technology has resulted in cartographers and photogrammetrists needing more courses in computer programming, engineering, math, GIS technology, surveying, and geography.

Cartographers must also be familiar with Web-based mapping technologies, including newer modes of compiling data that incorporate the positioning capabilities of mobile phones and in-car navigation systems.

Photogrammetrists must be familiar with remote sensing, image processing, and light-imaging detection and ranging (LIDAR) technology, and they must be knowledgeable about using the software that is necessary with these tools.

Many aspiring cartographers and photogrammetrists benefit from internships while in school.

High school students interested in becoming a cartographer or photogrammetrist should take courses in algebra, geometry, trigonometry, drafting, and computer science.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Licensing requirements for cartographers and photogrammetrists vary by state. A number of states require cartographers and photogrammetrists to be licensed as surveyors, and some states have specific licenses for photogrammetrists. Although licensing requirements vary by state, candidates must have a minimum of a high school diploma and pass a test.

Cartographers and photogrammetrists may also receive certification from the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS). Candidates must meet experience and education requirements and must pass an exam. Although certification is not required, it can demonstrate competence and may help candidates get a job.

Important Qualities

Computer skills. Both cartographers and photogrammetrists must have experience working with computer data and coding. Because maps are created digitally, knowing how to edit them on a computer is essential.

Critical-thinking skills. Cartographers may work from existing maps, surveys, and other records, and they must be able to determine the accuracy of each feature being mapped.

Decisionmaking skills. Both cartographers and photogrammetrists must make decisions about the accuracy and readability of a map. They must decide what information they require in order to meet the client’s needs.

Detail oriented. Cartographers must focus on details when conceiving a map and deciding what features to include. Photogrammetrists must pay close attention to detail when interpreting aerial photographs and remotely sensed data.

Problem-solving skills. Cartographers and photogrammetrists must be able reconcile differences between aerial photographs, land surveys, and satellite images.

Pay About this section

Cartographers and Photogrammetrists

Median annual wages, May 2015

Architects, surveyors, and cartographers

$69,130

Cartographers and photogrammetrists

$61,880

Total, all occupations

$36,200

 

The median annual wage for cartographers and photogrammetrists was $61,880 in May 2015. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $39,470, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $98,210.

In May 2015, the median annual wages for cartographers and photogrammetrists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Management, scientific, and technical consulting services $66,660
Architectural, engineering, and related services 60,770
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 59,510

Most cartographers and photogrammetrists work full time. Those who do fieldwork may have longer workdays.

Job Outlook About this section

Cartographers and Photogrammetrists

Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24

Cartographers and photogrammetrists

29%

Total, all occupations

7%

Architects, surveyors, and cartographers

6%

 

Employment of cartographers and photogrammetrists is projected to grow 29 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. However, because it is a small occupation, the fast growth will result in only about 3,600 new jobs over the 10-year period.

Cartographers and photogrammetrists are likely to be in demand to ensure the reliability and accuracy of maps produced and updated. The increasing use of maps for government planning should fuel employment growth. In addition, the growing number of mobile and Web-based map products should result in new jobs for cartographers and photogrammetrists.

The management of forests, waterways, and other natural resources will require constant updating of maps. Cartographers and photogrammetrists will be needed to operate geographic information systems (GIS), which are increasingly being used to map and locate areas that are in need during natural disasters.

Photogrammetrists will be needed to manage the aerial, satellite, and light-imaging detection and ranging (LIDAR) images that are now common.

Cartographers will also be needed to visualize spatial information and design the final presentation of information for clients. Their design skills help data become more accessible to users.

Job Prospects

Cartographers and photogrammetrists are expected to have excellent job opportunities. There has been a large increase in the amount of GIS and mapping data available and cartographers and photogrammetrists will be needed to interpret, refine, and create mapping products using these data.

Employment projections data for cartographers and photogrammetrists, 2014-24
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Cartographers and photogrammetrists

17-1021 12,300 15,900 29 3,600 [XLSX]

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

Career InfoNet

America’s Career InfoNet includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of cartographers and photogrammetrists.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2015 MEDIAN PAY Help
Civil engineers

Civil Engineers

Civil engineers design, build, supervise, operate, and maintain construction projects and systems in the public and private sector, including roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and systems for water supply and sewage treatment.

Bachelor's degree $82,220
Environmental scientists and specialists

Environmental Scientists and Specialists

Environmental scientists and specialists use their knowledge of the natural sciences to protect the environment and human health. They may clean up polluted areas, advise policymakers, or work with industry to reduce waste.

Bachelor's degree $67,460
Geographers

Geographers

Geographers study the Earth and its land, features, and inhabitants. They also examine phenomena such as political or cultural structures and study the physical and human geographic characteristics of regions ranging in scale from local to global.

Bachelor's degree $74,260
Forest and conservation workers

Forest and Conservation Workers

Forest and conservation workers measure and improve the quality of forests. Under the supervision of foresters and forest and conservation technicians, they develop, maintain, and protect forests.

High school diploma or equivalent $26,190
Landscape architects

Landscape Architects

Landscape architects design parks and the outdoor spaces of campuses, recreational facilities, private homes, and other open areas.

Bachelor's degree $63,810
Surveying and mapping technicians

Surveying and Mapping Technicians

Surveying and mapping technicians collect data and make maps of the Earth’s surface. Surveying technicians visit sites to take measurements of the land. Mapping technicians use geographic data to create maps. They both assist surveyors, cartographers, and photogrammetrists.

High school diploma or equivalent $42,010
Surveyors

Surveyors

Surveyors make precise measurements to determine property boundaries. They provide data relevant to the shape and contour of the Earth’s surface for engineering, mapmaking, and construction projects.

Bachelor's degree $58,020
Urban and regional planners

Urban and Regional Planners

Urban and regional planners develop land use plans and programs that help create communities, accommodate population growth, and revitalize physical facilities in towns, cities, counties, and metropolitan areas.

Master's degree $68,220

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information about cartographers and photogrammetrists, visit

Cartography and Geographic Information Society

For more information about photogrammetrists, photogrammetric technicians, remote-sensing scientists, image-based cartographers, or GIS specialists’ careers, visit

American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing

For information about careers in remote sensing, photogrammetry, surveying, GIS analysis, and other geography-related disciplines, visit

Association of American Geographers

O*NET

Cartographers and Photogrammetrists

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Cartographers and Photogrammetrists,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/cartographers-and-photogrammetrists.htm (visited December 05, 2016).

Publish Date: Thursday, December 17, 2015

What They Do

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Work Environment

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How to Become One

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Pay

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State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's Career InfoNet.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2015 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2015, the median annual wage for all workers was $36,200.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2014

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2014, which is the base year of the 2014-24 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2014-24

The projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024. The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.

Employment Change, 2014-24

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2014-24

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2014 to 2024.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

2015 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2015, the median annual wage for all workers was $36,200.