How to Become a Cartographer or Photogrammetrist
Cartographers and photogrammetrists usually learn to create maps through degrees in cartography, geography, geomatics, or surveying.
Most cartographers and photogrammetrists need a bachelor’s degree in cartography, geography, geomatics, or surveying. Some states require cartographers and photogrammetrists to be licensed as surveyors, and some states have specific licenses for photogrammetrists.
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.
The growing use of Geographic Information System (GIS) technology has resulted in cartographers and photogrammetrists requiring 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.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Licensing requirements for cartographers and photogrammetrists vary by state. Some states require cartographers and photogrammetrists to be licensed as surveyors, and some states have specific licenses for photogrammetry and remote sensing. Although licensing requirements vary by state, candidates must meet educational requirements and pass a test.
Cartographers and photogrammetrists may also receive certification from the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS). The United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation offers certifications for GIS professionals. Candidates must meet experience and education requirements and must pass an exam. Although certifications are not required, they can demonstrate competence and may help candidates get a job.
Computer skills. Both cartographers and photogrammetrists must have experience working with computer data and coding. Maps are created digitally, so 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 to reconcile differences between aerial photographs, land surveys, and satellite images.