GeoCarta Has Moved

Jun 26, 2008

Cartographer's Jobs Explored

If you're wondering what cartographers jobs are like The Times has a couple of answers for you. Today's Career & Jobs section interviewed two British mapmakers.

Jon Ford is a survey geologist with the British Geological Survey. He explained his work to The Times:

“I create geological maps and models, which show the rock strata, fossil records and other features that underly the landscape. Much of the UK was mapped this way by the Victorians and I am now revising and improving what they did. What they did was all well and good for their time, but modern requirements have changed; even the land itself might have changed.

“My fieldwork involves going to Yorkshire for between two and four months of the year – we have to do it after the farmers have finished harvesting but before the days get too short – and spending time outdoors with a copy of the existing map on a tablet PC and comparing that with what we identify. We can look at areas that they had to skip over and add a higher level of detail that is more relevant to modern-day use of our maps.

Mr. Ford spends the remainder of the year in his office analyzing the data he's collected and producing maps and models of rock formations.

Edward Mainwaring got a job as a cartographer for Ordnance Survey due to his research on GPS systems. He told The Times:

"I’m interested in the technical and analytical side of cartography as well as the design aspects. People often think that we work with paper and coloured pencils, but much of what I do is manipulating data from different sources – for example, terrain information, street layout and waterways – and turning it into a useful product where the relevant elements stand out clearly. The work is a mixture of analysis, to work out what’s needed, and creativity, to decide the best way of designing it and presenting it.

Both men find the satisfaction in knowing their work is helping in the real world and with the fact that the constantly changing technology means they never get bored.