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A cartographer, a person who uses aerial photographs and data surveys to collect information about the geography of an area, is a member of a bigger career group called mapping scientists. Cartographers use collected data to create charts, maps, and pictures of large sections of the world’s surface geography. There are many sub-groups within the larger field of cartography.
For example, supervisors in this field coordinate the processes involved in making maps and drafters give specifics on structures. Additionally, photogrammetrists create scaled maps that represent aerial photos and mosaicists collect and arrange photographs in specific sequences. A geographic information specialist uses Geographic Information Systems, or GIS, that contain computerized data, and enable the combining of mapmaking and surveying.
Interpreting photos and drawings, and creating new representations of them is an important element of cartography. Some cartographers focus on creating new maps, while others work on revising old ones. A cartographer must be able to do this through the use of stereoplotting, mathematical formulas, computerized drafting tools, and photogrammetric skills. They might also be responsible for analyzing the politics and culture of a specific region. The work of cartographers can include any number of projects including city plans, street atlases, country maps, navigation maps and charts, or weather maps.
Using a Geographic Information System, which combines hardware, software, and data, is the focus of many cartographers. By combining these elements, a GIS allows a cartographer to capture, manage, analyze, and display information about geography. The GIS gives cartographers information in three ways: a database of geographical information, map views, and model views. The combination of these views allows a cartographer to map changes and patterns, answer geographic questions, map densities, and locate geographic features.
Rather than simply creating and revising maps, a cartographer may be responsible for studying the most current mapmaking techniques, especially the use of these new technologies. For example, a GIS specialist is yet another career opportunity in the larger realm of cartography. The range of responsibility in this career field can be very wide, or very narrow, depending upon current projects and employment opportunities. In order to meet the demands of the job, cartographers must have expert skills in a range of subjects including math, science, technology, current events, and design.
A Bachelor of Science in cartography, though not always a requirement, is a standard degree for this field. A cartographer my also hold a degree in either engineering, geography, forestry, or surveying. Additionally, most states also require a license for surveying. Sometimes, cartographers begin their careers as technicians, entering the field through experience, rather than education.