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Summary of occupation

Cartographers research, collect, collate and present information about geographical forms in visual representations such as maps, graphs, charts, plans and images. They analyse field surveys, land use and land management data, aerial photographs and other geographic information to prepare these representations. They consult with clients to determine their mapping needs, collect data, compile and transfer it into the required format, edit and revise the documents, and prepare these documents for presentation or publication. Cartographers work all over the State, carrying out tasks such as mapping potential mine sites to surveying our coastlines and other elements of the environment.

ANZSCO description: Applies scientific, mathematical and cartographic design principles to prepare and revise maps, charts and other forms of cartographic output.
Alternative names: Map Maker
Specialisations: Aerial Surveyor, Geographic Information Systems Specialist, Hydrographic Cartographer, Photogrammetrist
Job prospects: Average
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A cartographer needs:

  • an interest in geography and maps
  • graphic, drawing and design skills
  • to be able to produce neat, accurate and detailed work
  • a good sense of visual awareness, including space and scale
  • to be able to work to tight deadlines
  • good colour vision.
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Working conditions

Cartographers work in offices but may travel to survey and map sites, or to meet with clients. They usually work regular hours, but may be required to work longer hours when working to a deadline.

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Salary details

On average, cartographers, classified under surveyors and spatial scientists, can expect to earn between $1 500 and $1 999 per week ($78 000 and $103 000 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As a cartographer develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.

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Tools and technologies

Cartographers use a range of different tools depending on the type of work being undertaken. They use computers, including specific imaging programs and computer-aided design (CAD) or Geographic Information System (GIS) software. They also use drawing instruments, light tables or plotting tables, cameras, and a range of electronic equipment that enables them to measure and record geographical structures.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a cartographer you usually need to complete a degree in surveying, geospatial science or geographic information science.

Some universities in Western Australia offer degrees in these fields. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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