Cartographers and Photogrammetrists

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About the Job

Collect, analyze, and interpret geographic information provided by geodetic surveys, aerial photographs, and satellite data. Research, study, and prepare maps and other spatial data in digital or graphic form for legal, social, political, educational, and design purposes. May work with Geographic Information Systems (GIS). May design and evaluate algorithms, data structures, and user interfaces for GIS and mapping systems.

It is also Called

  • Topographical Field Assistant
  • Topographer
  • Stereoplotter Operator
  • Stereo Compiler
  • Photogrammetrist
  • Photogrammetric Technician
  • Photogrammetric Engineer
  • Photo Cartographer
  • Orthophotography Technician
  • Mapper
View All

What They Do

  • Travel over photographed areas to observe, identify, record, and verify all relevant features.
  • Select aerial photographic and remote sensing techniques and plotting equipment needed to meet required standards of accuracy.
  • Study legal records to establish boundaries of local, national, and international properties.
  • Collect information about specific features of the Earth, using aerial photography and other digital remote sensing techniques.
  • Determine guidelines that specify which source material is acceptable for use.
  • Identify, scale, and orient geodetic points, elevations, and other planimetric or topographic features, applying standard mathematical formulas.
  • Examine and analyze data from ground surveys, reports, aerial photographs, and satellite images to prepare topographic maps, aerial-photograph mosaics, and related charts.
  • Build and update digital databases.
  • Delineate aerial photographic detail, such as control points, hydrography, topography, and cultural features, using precision stereoplotting apparatus or drafting instruments.
  • Prepare and alter trace maps, charts, tables, detailed drawings, and three-dimensional optical models of terrain using stereoscopic plotting and computer graphics equipment.


People who work in this occupation generally have the interest code: RIC.

This means people who work in this occupation generally have Realistic interests, but also prefer Investigative and Conventional environments.

Work Values

People who work in this occupation generally prize Achievement, but also value Working Conditions and Independence in their jobs.

Things They Need to Know

  • Geography - Knowledge of principles and methods for describing the features of land, sea, and air masses, including their physical characteristics, locations, interrelationships, and distribution of plant, animal, and human life.
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Design - Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.

Things They Need to Be Able to Do

  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Time Management - Managing one's own time and the time of others.
  • Active Learning - Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Complex Problem Solving - Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.

Education Required

Most of these occupations require a four-year bachelor's degree, but some do not.


In 2016, the average annual wage in Pennsylvania was $58,170 with most people making between $36,790 and $90,800


avg. annual growth

During 2014, this occupation employed approximately 270 people in Pennsylvania. It is projected that there will be 330 employed in 2024.

This occupation will have about 6 openings due to growth and about 4 replacement openings for approximately 10 total annual openings.

Pennsylvania Department of Education