Is Cartography Still a Viable Career Choice in Today’s Tech-Driven World?

Cartography, the art of map-making, has been around for centuries. However, with the advent of modern technology, it’s no secret that the industry has undergone significant changes. Many may wonder if cartography is still a career in today’s digital world. If you’re considering diving into the world of map-making, you may be asking yourself whether or not there are viable career opportunities to pursue. The answer isn’t necessarily straightforward, but it’s certainly worth exploring.

It’s essential to note that cartography has come a long way since its inception. From pencil-to-paper maps to computer-generated maps, the industry has had to adapt to stay relevant in today’s tech-heavy society. While it’s true that some may question whether or not cartography is relevant in the digital age, the truth is that cartographers are more in demand than ever before. The world still needs maps, and as long as we rely on them to navigate through the world, the need for skilled map-makers will continue to exist.

The biggest question is not whether or not cartography is still a career, but rather what role it will play in the future. As technology continues to advance, cartographers will inevitably have to adapt to stay current in their field. The rise of virtual reality and augmented reality is already making waves in the industry, and it’s likely that these technologies will only become more prevalent in the coming years. This means that future cartographers must not only possess traditional skills like map-making but also be comfortable with new and emerging technologies. If you’re up for the challenge, a career in cartography may be a smart choice.

The Evolution of Cartography

Cartography has come a long way since its origins in ancient times. From simple hand-drawn maps on papyrus to the complex digital mapping systems used today, cartography has undergone a significant evolution. Let’s take a closer look at the key milestones in the history of cartography.

  • Ancient Times: Cartography started as rudimentary maps or sketches used for navigation, exploration, and war purposes. The oldest known maps were found in the Sumerian city of Nippur in Mesopotamia and date back to 6000 BC.
  • The Greeks and Romans: The Greeks and Romans brought more scientific and mathematical precision to cartography, with the development of latitude and longitude coordinates, the use of surveying instruments, and the creation of globes.
  • The Middle Ages: Cartography was largely preserved and developed by Islamic scholars during the middle ages. They introduced the use of compasses and improved techniques for surveying.
  • The Age of Exploration: The Renaissance period saw a surge in exploration, and cartography began to reflect that. The creation of portolan charts, which were intended to help sailors navigate around the globe, was a significant advancement in cartography during this period.
  • The Industrial Revolution: With the industrial revolution came the development of the printing press, making it possible to mass-produce maps. This led to the creation of atlases and made maps accessible to the general public.
  • The Digital Age: The digital age has revolutionized cartography, allowing for the creation of interactive, 3D maps with real-time data. The use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) has made it possible to map the world with incredible accuracy and detail.

Over the years, cartography has evolved from a tool for navigation to a comprehensive means of recording geographic data and analyzing spatial patterns. We can only imagine what the future holds for cartography and how it will continue to shape our understanding of the world around us.

Modern Cartography Tools and Techniques

Cartography is the art and science of creating maps that can showcase geographical, geological, and topographical details of a place. With the advancement of technology, cartography has undergone significant changes in recent times. Modern cartography tools and techniques have transformed the way maps are created, increased accuracy, and made it easier for people to access geographical information.

  • Geographic Information System (GIS) – GIS is a computer-based system used to collect, store, manage, analyze, and visualize geographical data. It uses satellite imagery, remote sensors, and survey data to create detailed maps that are accurate and help in decision-making processes. GIS is extensively used in fields such as urban planning, environmental management, and disaster management.
  • Global Positioning System (GPS) – GPS is a satellite-based navigation system that provides location and time information in all weather conditions, anywhere on or near the earth. It is used extensively in cartography to capture real-time maps, track movement, and enable precise positioning. GPS is also used in fields such as aviation, maritime, and military operations.
  • Virtual Globes – Virtual globes are computer-based platforms that enable users to view and explore geographical data in 3D. These platforms use high-resolution imagery, 3D modeling, and satellite data to provide a virtual representation of the earth’s surface and sub-surface features. Google Earth is the most well-known virtual globe platform used today.

In addition to these tools, there are several modern techniques that have made cartography an exciting and creative field:

  • Crowdsourcing – Crowdsourcing has enabled map-making to become more inclusive by allowing anyone with an internet connection to contribute to map creation. The practice involves collecting and curating data from people in different locations and integrating it into a geographic database for analysis and visualization. Crowdsourcing has helped create maps of lesser-known areas and situations such as crisis mapping.
  • Interactive Maps – Interactive maps enable users to interact with and customize maps based on their interests and needs. These maps use technology such as HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript to create dynamic and responsive maps that allow users to zoom in on details, toggle layers, and display information such as traffic, weather, and landmarks. Interactive maps are used extensively in fields such as tourism, real estate, and education.
  • Augmented Reality (AR) – AR is a technology that enables real-time overlays of digital content onto a user’s view of the physical world. In the world of cartography, AR has been used to provide users with real-time information about their surroundings, display historical information about a place, and provide virtual tours of landmarks and cities.

Modern cartography tools and techniques have revolutionized the way we create and consume maps. From the use of GIS and GPS for data collection and analysis to interactive maps and AR for user engagement, technology has brought new possibilities to the field of cartography and made it a fascinating career option for students and practitioners alike.

Geographic Information System (GIS)A computer-based system to collect, store, manage, analyze geographic data.
Global Positioning System (GPS)A satellite-based navigation system for real-time positioning and movement tracking.
Virtual GlobesA computer-based platform to view and explore geographical data in 3D.
CrowdsourcingThe collection and curation of geographic data from people worldwide.
Interactive MapsCustomizable and dynamic maps that allow users to interact with them.
Augmented Reality (AR)Overlay of digital content onto a user’s view of the physical world.

Table: List of modern cartography tools and techniques

Cartography in the Digital Age

The digital age has revolutionized the field of cartography. With the help of technology, cartographers can create more accurate and detailed maps than ever before. Here are three ways cartography has changed in the digital age:

  • Use of GIS Software: Geographic Information System (GIS) software allows cartographers to collect, analyze, and present data in a visual format. GIS software has become an essential tool for both scientific and commercial purposes. The software makes it possible to create interactive maps that can be used for various applications such as disaster management, environmental analysis, and urban planning.
  • Remote Sensing: The use of remote sensing technology has allowed cartographers to map large areas from a distance. With the help of satellites, aerial photographs, and other remote sensing devices, cartographers can collect data over a large area. This data is then used to create detailed maps that are more accurate and precise than ever before.
  • Online Mapping: The internet has made it possible to access maps from anywhere in the world. Online mapping applications such as Google Maps and Bing Maps have become popular tools for navigation and exploration. These applications allow users to zoom in and out of an area, get driving directions, and even see street-level views of locations.

The Future of Cartography

The future of cartography is bright with the ongoing advancements in technology. As more data becomes available, cartographers will be able to create even more accurate and detailed maps. The use of machine learning and artificial intelligence in cartography is also on the rise. These technologies can be used to analyze and interpret data, making it easier for cartographers to create maps.

However, as with any industry, the digital age has also brought its share of challenges for cartographers. With online mapping services, the demand for traditional paper maps has declined, and as a result, the number of jobs in cartography has decreased in recent years.

Positive Aspects of Cartography in the Digital AgeNegative Aspects of Cartography in the Digital Age
More accurate and detailed mapsDecreased demand for traditional paper maps
Ability to create interactive mapsIncreased competition with online mapping services
Access to more data for mapping purposesLoss of jobs in cartography industry

Despite these challenges, cartography remains an important and valuable career. As technology continues to advance, cartographers will play an essential role in helping people make sense of the world around them.

The role of cartographers in disaster management

Cartography has been around for centuries, and while technology has made significant advancements in mapping, it is still a crucial component in disaster management. In times of catastrophes, accurate and up-to-date maps can be the difference between life and death.

  • Creating maps of disaster areas: In the aftermath of a natural disaster, a cartographer’s role is to create maps of the affected area. These maps are used to assess damage, identify safe and unsafe areas, and plan evacuation routes. Cartographers work with rescue teams to ensure the safety of those affected.
  • Mapping affected populations: Cartographers create maps of the population affected by the disaster. These maps help in identifying vulnerable groups such as the elderly, disabled, and children, allowing aid organizations to channel resources effectively.
  • Providing real-time updates: Cartographers work with surveyors to create real-time maps of disaster areas, providing first responders with up-to-date information on the situation on the ground. This information helps in quick and efficient decision-making.

Cartographers’ efforts help in saving lives and mitigating damages in emergency situations. While technology such as drones and satellite imagery is increasingly used in disaster management, the human element of cartography remains essential.

Below is a table outlining some of the key mapping technologies used in disaster management:

GIS MappingTo organize and analyze geographic data.
Remote SensingTo capture and interpret data from satellite and aerial images.
Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS)To accurately locate and map areas affected by disaster.

As new technology emerges, the role of cartographers in disaster management will continue to evolve. However, their expertise and knowledge of mapping will always play a vital role in assisting disaster management teams.

Cartography and Geospatial Analysis

As the world continues to evolve technologically, one may wonder if cartography, the art and science of making maps, is still a viable career path. The short answer to that question is yes!

In fact, the field of cartography has expanded to include a broad range of geospatial analysis, which goes beyond traditional map making to encompass a variety of technological applications and predictive analytics. Here are five reasons why cartography and geospatial analysis remain important careers:

  • Data Collection and Mapping: Cartographers and geospatial analysts collect data and turn it into useful information for both public and private entities. With the increasing availability of satellite imagery and remote sensing data, cartographers and geospatial analysts can derive valuable insights about the earth’s surface.
  • Emergency Management and Disaster Response: Cartographers and geospatial analysts play a critical role in emergency management and disaster response efforts. They can quickly produce maps that show hurricane evacuation routes, forest fire perimeters, and earthquake epicenters. This information can help emergency responders direct resources and save lives.
  • Environmental and Resource Management: By using geospatial analysis, cartographers can help manage natural resources including forests, fisheries, and agricultural land. These maps provide valuable data on environmental quality and resource utilization, which assists with planning and resource allocation.
  • Transportation Planning and Logistics: Cartographers and geospatial analysts often work with transportation planners to create maps for highways, bus routes, and other transportation systems. By analyzing traffic patterns and other variables, they can help plan effective transportation systems and efficiently route vehicles and cargo.
  • Marketing and Retail: Geospatial analysis is proving to be a powerful tool for businesses looking to target specific populations or markets. Retailers and marketers can use maps to determine areas where populations are underserved, identify customer demographics, and determine the best locations for new business ventures.

Whether working for the public sector or private enterprise, the field of cartography and geospatial analysis offers exciting opportunities for those looking to turn data into actionable information. With the ever-evolving technological advancements in the field, the future of cartography looks bright.

Cartography and Urban Planning

Cartography, the art of creating maps, has been an essential tool in urban planning for centuries. Maps play a critical role in urban planning by providing planners with a visual representation of the physical, environmental, and social aspects of a city. With the rise of modern technology, the practice of cartography has evolved drastically, including the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

  • GIS – GIS has become an important tool in urban planning, allowing cartographers to create accurate, detailed maps that are capable of displaying a wide range of data. GIS maps can highlight everything from land use patterns to population density, as well as track environmental changes over time. Planners use GIS to model scenarios and predict future development and risks.
  • Rezoning – Cartographers play a key role in rezoning efforts by creating maps that illustrate how a city can be divided into geographical zones. These zones can help regulate development, reduce traffic congestion, and determine the location of public facilities like schools and parks.
  • Transportation Planning – A cornerstone of urban planning is transportation. Cartographers assist transportation planners by creating maps that display the layout of transportation infrastructure like rail lines, buses, bike lanes, and sidewalks. These maps can help determine where new transportation infrastructure should be built and where upgrades are needed.

In addition to these traditional roles, cartography has also evolved to be an important tool in disaster response, public health planning, and even urban design. By providing a visual representation of a city’s physical and social characteristics, cartographers continue to play a critical role in urban planning.

The following table illustrates the top industries employing cartographers and photogrammetrists in the United States:

IndustryEmployment Percentile
Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services38.28%
Local Government, excluding schools and hospitals35.71%
State Government, excluding schools and hospitals12.95%
Federal Government4.17%
Surveying and Mapping Services3.74%

As shown in the table, the majority of cartographers and photogrammetrists are employed in the architectural, engineering, and related services industry, followed by local governments. Cartography remains a viable and important career in urban planning and beyond.

Job Outlook for Cartographers and Geographic Information System (GIS) Specialists

Cartography, the process of making maps and charts, and Geographic Information System (GIS), a tool for gathering, analyzing, and visualizing geospatial data, have been around for thousands of years. However, with the advent of technology, the role of cartographers and GIS specialists has evolved and expanded tremendously. In this article, we will discuss the job outlook for cartographers and GIS specialists in the current job market.

  • The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected a 15% employment growth for cartographers and photogrammetrists from 2018 to 2028, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. This growth is attributed to the increasing demand for maps and other geospatial data in various industries, including environmental management, urban planning, and national defense. The BLS also reported that the median annual wage for cartographers and photogrammetrists was $64,430 in May 2019.
  • The BLS also projected a 5% employment growth for surveying and mapping technicians from 2018 to 2028, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. The growth in demand for these technicians is mainly driven by the need to update and maintain digital maps and related geospatial data. The median annual wage for surveying and mapping technicians was $45,010 in May 2019.
  • The job outlook for GIS specialists is also promising. As more organizations are using and relying on geospatial data for decision-making, the demand for GIS specialists is increasing. The BLS projected a 13% employment growth for cartographers and GIS specialists from 2018 to 2028, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. The median annual wage for GIS specialists was $63,790 in May 2019.

Overall, the employment growth for cartographers and GIS specialists is above average and the median annual wage is also quite attractive. Additionally, some industries may offer higher wages or more job opportunities than others. The following table shows the top-paying industries and the states with the highest levels of employment for cartographers and photogrammetrists according to the BLS.

Top-Paying Industries (May 2019)Annual Mean Wage
Architectural, engineering, and related services$76,250
Federal Executive Branch (OES Designation)$75,660
Local government, excluding education and hospitals$65,650
State government, excluding education and hospitals$63,430
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services$61,960

States with the highest levels of employment for cartographers and photogrammetrists in May 2019 were:

  • California
  • Texas
  • Maryland
  • Virginia
  • Florida

In conclusion, cartography and GIS are still relevant and valuable careers in today’s job market. With the growing demand for geospatial data and technology advancements, cartographers and GIS specialists have a bright job outlook and opportunities to work in various industries.

FAQs about Is Cartography Still a Career?

1. What is cartography?

Cartography is the science or practice of making maps. Cartographers are responsible for designing and creating maps, charts, and other geographic visual representations.

2. Is cartography still important today?

Yes, cartography is still essential in today’s world. With the advent of new technologies, such as geographic information systems (GIS), cartographers can now create more accurate and detailed maps of the world and its features.

3. What skills do you need to become a cartographer?

To become a cartographer, you need a degree in geography, geology, or a related field. You should have excellent analytical and technical skills, as well as be proficient in computer software for GIS.

4. What job opportunities are available for cartographers?

Today, cartographers can find work in numerous fields, including government agencies, private companies, and non-profit organizations. Some job titles include GIS specialist, map editor, cartographic analyst, and surveying technician.

5. How much does a cartographer make?

The average salary for cartographers is around $65,000 per year. However, this figure can vary depending on the industry, location, and level of experience.

6. Is there room for growth as a cartographer?

Yes, there is room for growth as a cartographer. With experience and further education, you can move into managerial positions, become a specialist in a particular area of cartography, or even start your own consulting business.

7. How can I get started in a career in cartography?

To get started in a career in cartography, you should obtain a degree in geography, geology, or a related field. You can also gain experience by working on projects in school or volunteering in non-profit organizations. Being proficient in GIS software can also increase your chances of being hired.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, cartography is still a relevant and viable career choice in today’s world. Those interested in pursuing a career in this field should have excellent analytical and technical skills, as well as a degree in geography, geology, or a related field. With further education and experience, one can grow in their career and contribute to the everchanging field of cartography. Thank you for reading and be sure to check back for more informative articles in the future!