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Careers in Cartography > Key skills

Introduction :: Definitions :: Statements :: Disciplines :: Key skills :: Education :: View of Cartographers


Many of the key skills required to be a cartographer or to undertake higher education programmes in cartography and related fields are taught within the main subject areas studied at 'A' level. Cartography is such a varied subject, that an interest in a wide range of subjects, from art to mathematics, will help you on your path to surveying, designing, manipulating spatial data and working with maps.

Geography: A key subject when wishing to work within cartography or GIS. Knowledge, skills and understanding relating to spatial information, natural and human environments and undertaking geographic enquirey are extremely useful. A basic understanding of maps and how to use them is also very important.

Art and Design Technology: A large part of modern commercial cartography involves the design and generation of not only maps, but also whole publications on a variety of media, from the world wide web to folded paper maps. Good design skills are very useful if you wish to work in map design.

Mathematics: This is a subject that can be very useful depending on the area of cartography or GIS that you wish to work in. Although mathematical skills are not necessary to be a cartographic designer, to work in surveying or GIS they are important.

Computing: Good IT skills are a great benefit if you want to have a career in either cartography or GIS, but again it really depends on the type of job you are looking for. You may find yourself working with 3D visualisations and developing virtual landscapes on the world wide web, or you may be drawing pictorial maps of foreign cities.

Languages: A grounding in a second language is always very useful when wishing to work in the international market. Cartographers with more than one language are always sought after and as such there are often greater opportunities to work overseas.

The most important thing you need to be a cartographer is enthusiasm about maps and about geographical information. The subject is so varied that as long as you have basic geographical knowledge and skills, you will find a discipline within the world of maps that suits your skills and education.
Subjects including Leisure and Tourism, Environmental Science and Geology have an obvious link, but so do the subjects of Planning, Business, Communication, Graphic Design, Architecture, History and Publishing.
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