Rohit Dubey

Is it possible to make a career in Cartography? How one can excel as a Cartographer?

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RE:  Is it possible to make a career in Cartography? How one can excel as a Cartographer?

Surabhi Dewra
Surabhi Dewra
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As cartography is the art of making and studying maps and mapmaking, a career in this field is an out of the box path. Students who are keenly interested in geography of places, are good with visuals and hold good knowledge about maps and their history can surely take this up or consider it as a career option. Just like any other profession, cartography needs some deep rooted basics to be understood beforehand. One needs to learn the art and science of calculations and articulations required in mapmaking.


How to make a career in Cartography?


Firstly, a student typically needs a bachelor’s degree in geography or cartography as a specific subject. One can also go for training courses offered for cartography by various institutes across the country. The courses teaches the mapping software to students which gives a hand-on experience about the techniques used on the field apart from the theoretical knowledge bombarded in the colleges.


Next step involves going for a post graduation degree in the same course from a reputed college or university. This is a crucial step in the making of a cartographer’s career as the real struggle for career starts from here. There are various colleges that offer the course, however, one should consider factors like course structure, curriculum followed, and most importantly the placement history. After completing the two year course, one can finally enter the real world of cartography and apply their learning to the practical field. However, a minimum of 3-4 years of experience is what it takes to become a professional cartographer. It takes time and efforts to get a complete know-how of the career you have opted for. Being a complex career field altogether, it gets difficult to settle in.


Following are the major subjects one deals with while studying cartography:

earth sciences

  • geographic information technologies
  • geographical information systems (GIS)
  • geography and geology
  • geomatics and geoinformatics
  • land surveying


Sometimes, obtaining a license to practice this field is also required, though it is not out of compulsion it can be asked for at certain places. Being a professional, one should always have verified proofs to provide with.



The final step is to choose the field of cartography one wants to excel in. Following are the types of cartographers that one can opt from depending on their area of interest and thus follow that particular path in career:

  • conservation
  • government
  • the military
  • publishing
  • surveying




How to excel in the field of Cartography?


In order to excel in the field of cartography, one can consider to learn gain some insights or expertise in areas like design, computer science and software engineering. These will help you understand the digitalisation of cartography and the future that the subject holds for the professionals. One needs to be good at research, planning and execution of theories at their job too. A keen eye for detail is a must as it involves the collection and manipulation of data. Following are few other key skills required to become a good professional in cartography:



  • IT literacy
  • Analytical ability
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Ability to interpret data,
  • Knowledge about graphical representations




As the career involves studying maps from across the globe, knowing foreign languages can be useful for the cartographers to decode various symbols and representations that are specific to those languages and countries. Also, a lot travelling can be involved in the initial phase of understanding the field work. Therefore, knowing few languages can always add value to the work and experience.


One should also be aware of the roles and responsibilities that come with attaining the professional batch of cartography. Following can be the basic areas to work upon depending on the job type and expertise level: 


  • Collating data via remote sensing techniques
  • Research about what can be on a map
  • Designing maps, graphics, illustrations and layouts
  • Capture, maintain and output digital geographic data
  • Generalise map data
  • Compile and produce graphs for specialist
  • Check content and accuracy of maps, charts and printing proofs.



However,while being on the job one should focus on the following areas to gain insights and attain an upper-hand in the profession too: 

compiling maps

map design and layout

map production



Focusing on these little factors and gaining the right set of skills is the ultimate key to excel in every profession.

RE:  Is it possible to make a career in Cartography? How one can excel as a Cartographer?

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