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Cartographers design, prepare and revise maps, charts, plans, three-dimensional models and spatial information databases, often using computer-based techniques, and applying principles from science, mathematics and graphic design. Cartographers may specialize in topographical maps (which show earth surface features and land use); or maps used for operational purposes in fields such as town planning, weather forecasting, tourism, hydrography, geological or mineral exploration and the military.

Low-end Salary: 
Median Salary: 
High-end Salary: 

There are several routes into cartographic occupations. Employers look for applicants who have a high school education, plus two to four years of formal education in mathematics, trigonometry, geography, geology, drafting, or related fields. Depending upon the particular job, specialized courses such as surveying, cartography, and photogrammetry may be needed. Preparation in high school for should include computer sciences, algebra, trigonometry, geography, and CAD.

Math Required: 

College Algebra Trigonometry Calculus I and II Discrete Mathematics Calculus with Analytic Geometry I and II Elementary Statistics Spatial Statistics

When Math Is Used: 

Math helps cartographers with map scale, coordinate systems, and map projection. Map scale is the relationship between distances on a map and the corresponding distances on the earth's surface expressed as a fraction or a ratio, coordinate systems are numeric methods of representing locations on the earth's surface, and map projection is a function or transformation which relates coordinates of points on a curved surface to coordinates of points on a plane.

Potential Employers: 

Most cartographers work with engineering, architectural, and surveying firms, but a substantial number work for federal, regional, state, and local governments. Government agencies hire cartographers in areas such as highway departments, land management, natural resources planning, and national defense. Many are also employed by businesses, which specialize in map publishing or map drafting services.


Cartography is an ancient discipline that dates from the prehistoric times, often depicting hunting and fishing territories.


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Salary figures from
the current US Bureau of Labor of Statistics website and represent the
90th percentile.

The most common question students ask math teachers at every level is “When will I use math?” is a non-profit website that helps to answer this question. This website describes the importance of mathematics and many rewarding career opportunities available to students who study mathematics.



Figures represent salary potential.


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