Some mapping specialties
While most of us are most familiar with
road maps and weather maps, there are
several specialized maps for specific uses,
and although they may use the same kinds
of information, their requirements are
record and delineate
legal property lines. Cadastral maps
are critical to local governments, city
planning, emergency response efforts,
and real estate activities.
terrain - mountains and valleys - of the
earth’s surface. They also often include
vegetation, buildings, transportation lines,
boundary lines, water bodies, and place
nautical and aeronautical charts
provide critical information about the
elevation of terrain and the depth of
These maps are designed
specifically for sea and air navigation.
use aerial and
satellite images like those on the base
layer of Internet maps, combined with
other data, such as reference grids
or roads derived from conventional
geometric map sources.
geographical distribution of specific
geographic features such as soils,
vegetation, geology, or statistics like
population density, tax rates, or air quality.
is a special category
of map use that employs interactive and
animated maps on a computer to display
complex information about things like
weather, sea temperature (El Nino),
global warming, or greenhouse gases.
These displays, often in three dimensions,
represent an exciting new category of
maps made possible through elaborate
mathematical computations performed on
Any advice for people thinking
about a career in GIS?
such a growing industry that you can
make of it whatever your interests
dictate. Almost all industries utilize
GIS these days so you can pursue
a job path that falls within your
interest. Could be teaching, could be
analysis, public health, oceanography,
cartography, etc.... you can really
work in a niche
that you love.
These days so many
industries utilize GIS that
there is a career path
that can interest almost
University GIS coor
Describe your job and your duties.
As the GIS Coordinator, my primary
responsibilities are to teach advanced
GIS courses and coordinate the GISci
(Geographic Information Science)
Certificate Program. In addition, I assist
in other university courses with GIS/
GPS related course materials and act as a
consultant for any GIS needs that the faculty
and staff may have.
Why is your job rewarding or
It’s enjoyable because I don’t simply use
GIS, but I also teach others to use the
technology. To see a student go beyond
what has been taught in class and use the
technology for their own interests is very
Careers in Cartography and GIS
A study by the
American Society of
Photogrammetry and Remote
Sensing (ASPRS) found that the
biggest growth areas for geospatial
professionals this decade will be
environmental management and
consulting, civil government, defense
and security, and transportation
Bryan Conant, Director of Mapping Services, maps.com
Describe your job and your duties.
founded in 1991 and since its inception has become a leader
in the custom mapping industry. My role at Maps.com is to
oversee and manage the production of custom maps for our clients.
What types of education would you suggest to folks who are thinking about
cartography or GIS as a career?
My best advice for GIS students is to study design
and cartography. On the other hand cartographers need to know GIS. Many ‘old school’
cartographers don’t know GIS and as a result spend much more time creating their maps than
they could with the use of GIS. GIS is a fantastic tool to get data and create
maps in a much faster manner.
Talk about your typical day at work.
I work with my staff of
cartographers and editors, working with sales, problem solving, and dealing
with our clients. I spend a lot of the day in
front of the computer emailing, tracking
numbers within spreadsheets, proofing maps,
and occasionally producing maps. As a
manager I am constantly looking at maps and
researching ways to create maps faster and
Robbyn Abbitt, Department of Geography, Miami University of Ohio
How do you keep up with GIS?
In order to
stay productive with the ever-changing field of
GIS, I frequently attend traning workshops.
It’s critical to take advantage of local GIS
user groups and workshops and to
have knowledge of other GIS users.
Any advice for people
thinking about a career in
My advice for those thinking about a career
in GIS is to investigate taking courses in
GIS. Many universities and colleges offer
professional certificate programs in GIS. By
completing these types of programs you
ensure a future employer that you have the
necessary training and education to be hired
into a GIS position.
considerably from one
location to another. The map
at right estimates salaries for
cartographers and mapping
technicians by state.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor
Statistics does not have
a separate category of
occupation simply called
“GIS analysts” or “GIS
GIS analysts who concentrate
on solving problems with
geographic methods are
In 2006, the median salary
for geographers was about
$61,000. The highest paid
GIS analysts are those who
create new software or design
databases; they are classified
In 2006, computer
engineers had median annual
earnings of about $77,000.
Web cartographer &
David Heyman, Axis Maps, Madison, WI
David is a co-founder of Axis Maps, a cartography company
that focuses on “communicating information and the
opportunity to turn data into knowledge.” They create print,
interactive, and mash-up maps.
What’s a hot job in cartography/GIS these days?
Interactive cartography... Web services like Yahoo!, Microsoft,
and Google are letting people see geography in brand new
ways and the Internet has opened up a massive portal to
access and share data.
Any advice for people thinking about a career in
I think for a career in interactive cartography,
someone should have three core skill sets. First,
they should have a foundation in GIS and data
management. Second, they should have a desire to
design both maps and user interfaces.
Cartography is about the visual
communication of information and
great design is like great writing
or speaking; it leads to better
they should have some
programming knowledge to
actually put all their
great ideas to work.
How is a map made?
No matter what the purpose, making a map requires similar steps. Here is a
summary of some of the major steps involved in producing a map.
Where do you get the data to put on a map?
Geospatial professionals can collect and evaluate mappable information
, or second-hand from
aerial photographs, statistical reports,
Do you have to start with a blank computer screen every time?
Almost all maps now start with a base map that isn’t created specifically for
the map that’s being made. In most cases, someone (often the local, state, or
federal government) has already compiled detailed digital information, like
streets and rivers and boundaries, and that information is available for map
makers using GIS. Sometimes, the map maker needs to purchase data from
a “vendor” if the map is really specialized. Because
no map or analysis
is any good without accurate data
, it is important that databases
are developed according to rigorous standards and carefully edited and
So let’s say I have all this information - I’ll just make a map.
What’s the big deal?
There are a lot of choices that a cartographer has to make when it comes
to designing the map: how should the round earth be transformed to
the flat page or screen (
), what size and extent should
the map cover (
), what colors and shapes should be on the map
), how will it be printed or displayed? Fortunately, with computers,
cartographers can now try out a bunch of map design choices - not so long
ago, each change was really time-consuming and expensive.
And then the map is printed?
Lots of maps wind up on paper in some way - some using computer-driven
printers and plotters, others using offset lithography. But nowadays there
digital ways to display the final map
. And the design of
digital maps is different from those made on paper, and there are a
lot of different digital formats. Imagine how different maps have to
look if they’re designed for
in-car GPS navigation system
, or tiny
cell phone displays
. A lot of modern mapping
will be digital, and it’s a good idea to be familiar and
comfortable with computers - and even programming - as a
future geospatial professional.
to take in high school to
prepare for a cartography
or GIS career
Algebra I &II
Careers in Cartography and GIS
S many maps designed for
the Internet are now interac-
tive in lots of different ways.
This map interface from axis-
maps (see page 8) lets users
change colors and classes of
the thematic map on the fly
Jon Kimerling, Professor and Author, Oregon State University
I first knew that I
wanted to be
a cartographer when
I was 10 years old
and made my first
map for a class.
Many cartographers find their home in universities, teaching about
maps, GIS, and geography, and conducting research in map creation,
design, and understanding. Dr. Kimerling has written several books
on cartography and is an editor of the Atlas of the Pacific Northwest.
When did you know that this is the career you wanted
I knew that I wanted to be a professor of cartography
by the end of my undergraduate career when I discovered that I
really liked explaining things about cartography to others, and that
I liked doing research in cartography.
What kinds of education would you suggest if I’m
thinking about cartography as a career?
is an interesting career because it is a true blend of art, science,
and technology. Making professional quality maps requires a
strong education in geography with a focus on cartography and
remote sensing, mathematics through basic calculus and statistics,
introductory computer science including programming and
database management, and basic graphic design.
What makes your job enjoyable?
I am blessed with a
wonderful career as an academic cartographer. Every day I enjoy
coming to my department and working with students and fellow
faculty members. Although I teach the same courses each year,
every day is different, and I am constantly challenged by changes
in cartography and questions asked by students. I have never been
bored as a professor.
going the distance
Many institutions now offer distance-education certiﬁ cation or
degree programs in GIS onine. Here are a few:
California State University
Charles Sturt University
University of Denver
ESRI Virtual Campus
University of Leeds
University of North Dakota
Northwest Missouri State
Pennsylvania State World Campus
University of Southern Queensland
Documents you may be interested
Documents you may be interested