Job type


£18k - £45k

Typical salary

39 – 41

Hours per week

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

More info

  • Requires excellent IT, maths, and design skills, and the ability to analyse information from different sources
  • With experience, become a senior cartographer and manage mapping projects and staff
  • Option to work on a freelance basis, providing you have your own mapping equipment

As a cartographer, you'll be involved with the scientific, technological and artistic aspects of developing and producing maps.

These could include climate maps, geological maps, globes, maritime charts, political maps, road atlases, satellite navigation or sat-nav maps, or tourist maps.


  • Using desktop publishing and specialist computer software
  • Designing digital or paper based maps
  • Checking maps and charts are accurate and to scale
  • Editing maps, adding and removing new roads, structures or landmarks
  • Collecting and analysing data from remote sensors on satellites and planes
  • Using GIS to model and analyse landscape features
  • Plotting the heights and positions of geographical features from aerial photographs
  • Carrying out topographic surveys of the land and hydrographic surveys of the sea and coastal areas


If you're freelance, you'll set your own rates. You may have to work longer to meet deadlines for publication, or when finishing a project. You'll usually be based in an office and spend most of your time working with computers. 

You'll need

This role requires excellent IT, maths, and design skills, and the ability to analyse information from different sources.

You'll usually need a degree in a related subject like geography, geographical information systems (GIS), land surveying, earth sciences and oceanography. Employers may also accept degrees in other subjects like computer science, software engineering, or graphic design.

An MSc may help you find work in a specialist field of cartography like GIS.

You may also be able to get into this role by starting out as a trainee technician and working your way up. Employers may look for an apprenticeship in geospatial surveying, or A levels or equivalent, in geography, art and design, mathematics or computing.

It may be possible to undertake a degree apprenticeship in geospatial and mapping science specialist, or a
geospatial survey technician advanced apprenticeship.

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

The British Cartographic Society and Ordnance Survey have more information on internships, graduate schemes and becoming a cartographer.


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, but you'll need your own mapping equipment.