In this digital age, it’s wise to consider whether a career in mapmaking is still relevant. Cartography has changed over time and is no longer focused on mapping the Earth on a flat plane. Cartography now uses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to help us visualize the world from different perspectives and directions. As maps have become easily accessible online and on mobile devices, the number of people using maps has skyrocketed.
Cartography is becoming more interactive and is moving towards incorporating more sensory information. Some modern day cartographers focus on the art form of map making and include emotions, smells, noises, and human impressions in order to tell a story through their visualizations.
The cartography career is growing at a rate of 19%, much faster than average. It also pays about $60,000 - $70,000 per year, which is in the mid-to-high salary range. By 2023, the global GIS market is expected to reach $17.5 billion as the business sector and developing nations increase their use of GIS.
Most students who are interested in cartography major in geography, cartography, geomatics, surveying, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), or graphic design. Cartographers must be licensed as surveyors in some states. Also, specific licenses for remote sensing and photogrammetry may be required. Cartographers must have a thick skin since their work will be examined and revised thousands of times throughout their career.
GIS connects data from satellites and ground-level sensors to create an integrated picture that the common person can understand. Openness has been a recent GIS trend meaning that GIS software and data is becoming more available to the public. This openness creates challenges such as maintaining accuracy, efficient management, and privacy of the data.
It’s difficult to find a job just drawing maps, so most cartographers incorporate a mixture of art, technology, and science. They should be knowledgeable in the growing field of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) as well as graphic design. They will also need experience managing databases, using spatial analysis, and using mapping software such as Esri ArcGIS, Esri ArcView GIS, and Intergraph GeoMedia Pro.
Cartographers also use GIS, GPS, and remote sensing to create smart maps that help people make decisions, share information, and coordinate groups of people. With this real-time data, organizations can track storms, identify the location of contaminated food within the supply chain, prioritize construction jobs, and find available real estate.
The future of GIS will include more virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) software. One example is Esri’s CityEngine software, which uses virtual reality 3D GIS data to transport the viewer to different urban scenes. This software, which allows the viewer to visualize scenes with future buildings added, is useful for city planning and architectural design projects. Also, indoor mapping for airports and other large buildings is on the rise. Augmented reality (AR) software takes what we currently see and overlays 3D data, allowing the viewer to interact with the map in real time. It will be interesting to see how maps morph in the coming years as technology and the human brain join forces.
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