Hydrographic cartographer
Building Planning & Surveying

Hydrographic cartographers produce and update marine maps and navigational aids. The work involves analysing data from surveys, and satellite and aerial photographs.

Work Activities

Hydrographic cartographers produce and maintain marine charts, and oceanographic publications.

They use navigational survey data and satellite and aerial photographs that have been collected and recorded by specialists. The charts must be clear and accurate.

Hydrographic cartographers can be involved in producing navigation charts for ships and other sea-going vessels.

Analysing large amounts of information and deciding what should be included on the map or chart, and what should be left out are important aspects of their job.

Personal Qualities and Skills

Key skills

  • An interest in seas and oceans.
  • Patience and an eye for small detail.
  • To be a careful, thorough person, as there will be many people relying on the accuracy of your work.
  • A sense of design.
  • An interest in geography, maps and charts.
  • Good maths skills.

Pay And Opportunities

Typical employers of hydrographic cartographers

The main employer is the Hydrographic Office. It publishes charts covering all parts of the world accessible to international shipping. Cartographers employed there, work within small teams that concentrate on charting a particular geographical area. They have responsibility for compiling the whole chart rather than just particular aspects of it.

There are also some opportunities in sea surveying and oil exploration with oil companies that have cartographic units, and with civil engineering companies. Port authorities often employ a small number of hydrographic cartographers.

Opportunities for hydrographic cartographers occur in cartographic offices in towns and cities throughout the UK.


Entry routes and training

You can enter this work by doing a suitable degree course related to cartography, hydrography or topographic science. However, a degree is not always a requirement for entry.

Degrees in geography and related subjects are also sometimes useful for people wishing to go into this career.

Entry requirements for degrees vary so it is important to check with individual universities.

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