Cartographers produce geographical charts and maps for a range of clients. From military maps to geological charts used by industry, as well as everyday maps detailing roads and footpaths, the cartographer employs specialist knowledge and high-tech equipment to survey the land and record data in order to produce visual representative charts in line with their clients’ requirements.
Part of the production process increasingly involves the use of newer technologies such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS). While maps themselves may be associated with outdoor activities like surveying and exploring, cartographers will spend most of their time working indoors.
- Collecting geographic information from aerial photographs and other survey data.
- Preparing maps, charts, and drawings.
- Liaising with surveyors and designers.
- Making calculations and re-scaling maps.
- Using industry specific machinery and technology.
- Collating data provided by remote sensing techniques.
- Keeping up to date with emerging specialist software.
Travel: not a normal part of the working day but can involve attendance at court cases.
Working hours: likely to work regular office hours Monday – Friday.
Location: mainly in cities and large towns with OSI regional offices throughout the country. OSI headquarters in Dublin is due to be relocated to Waterford.
Opportunities for self-employment: unlikely except for those with extensive experience who may work as a consultant.
National mapping agencies such as Ordnance Survey Ireland, Land and Property Services Northern Ireland and Ordnance Survey (UK) and as well as private institutes.
Career development will very much depend on the employing organisation and may require relocating in order to progress one’s career. Cartographers can specialise in related areas such photogrammetry, geographical information systems (GIS), and some aspects of IT-related consultancy.
Other relevant degree subjects
- Topographic science
- Mapping science
- Geographic information systems (GIS).
A pre-entry postgraduate qualification is not a requirement though could be useful in this competitive field.
Skills and qualities
- A strong sense of design and an interest in geography.
- Good drawing ability.
- Good mathematical skills.
- Skillful in reading and understanding detailed photographs and drawings.
- Accuracy and attention to detail with a methodical and neat approach to work.
- Excellent planning and organisation.
- Excellent communication skills.
- Ability to work on own initiative as well as part of a team.
Labour market information
The geographic information industry is rapidly developing in Ireland.