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Cartographer - Surveyor

Note: Completion of a TAFE SA course does not guarantee an employment outcome. Formal requirements other than educational qualifications (eg licensing, professional registration), may apply to some occupations.

Job Prospects Openings 5 years to November 2018: 5,000 to 10,000
Salary Range Median weekly earnings: $1201 to $1500 to Source: Australian Government Department of Employment 2014
Brief Measuring, mapping, managing and modelling information relating to the Earth's physical and man-made features are the key concerns of cartographers and surveyors.

There are currently around 700 cartographers and surveyors in South Australia. Employment is largely full-time and most work in the Property and Business Services industry. Most persons in this occupation are males. The median age for those employed in this occupation is 40 years.

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Are you a problem solver who enjoys working with computers and the latest technology? Then a career as a cartographer or surveyor will appeal to you. 'Careers in these fields provide opportunities to work in multidisciplinary teams, use and develop sophisticated software applications and solve real-world problems related to mining, planning, natural resource management, urban development and construction', says an industry professional. Surveyors collect and measure the land information that allows cartographers to construct maps (and other data forms) and interpret the information.

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Education Requirements

Entry into this occupation is generally through a Bachelor degree or higher qualification. In some instances work experience is also relevant. Of those employed in this industry 51% have Bachelor degrees or higher qualification; 24% have Advanced Diplomas or Diplomas; 9% have Certificate III or IV. Around 12% have no post-school qualifications. It is recommended that you gain the available qualifications to get the best possible chance of employment.

TAFE SA offers courses relevant to this occupation including the Diploma of Spatial Information Services and the Diploma of Surveying. Pathways include the Certificate II and III in Surveying and Spatial Information Services, Certificate IV in Spatial Information Services and Certificate IV in Surveying.

Studying at TAFE SA is one of the easiest and most successful pathways towards a University Degree. Dual offer courses are available to TAFE SA and Flinders University in the Diploma of Spatial Information Services/Bachelor of Applied Geographical Information Systems and the Diploma of Surveying/Bachelor of Applied Geographical Information Systems.

Career Path

Cartographers and surveyors are employed in various industries. Job opportunities exist with publishers of tourist guides and street directories, demographic marketing consultants, mining exploration companies, road mapping bodies. They can also find employment with conservation authorities, emergency services, state and federal topographical and geological mapping authorities, local councils, hydrographic charting offices, planning authorities, university departments and scientific research organisations. Some cartographers also work with police to track and consequently predict crime patterns.

Cartographers and surveyors can be self-employed, or work for private companies or government agencies. They may also do contract work for the above organisations.

There is also an increasing demand for cartographers and surveyors with skills in the use of computerised geographic information systems.


Construction,  Mining

Nature of the Job

Surveyors are the professional experts in land measurement and management of land information. Today, the field of surveying is so broad that students can choose from a number of specialist areas: cadastral/land surveying (marking out property boundaries); engineering surveying (surveying routes for railways, roads, pipelines, canals, sewers and tunnels); geodetic surveying (using signals from satellites and other technology to locate positions on the ground); hydrographic surveying (gathering information about waterways, rivers, harbours and oceans); and mine surveying (using measurements for safe and efficient mining operations).

If you have a particular interest in mapping, then a career as a cartographer will suit you. Studying to become a cartographer prepares you for an environment where computers are used to produce maps and digital databases using geological, mining, topographical and statistical information. This provides the tools, skills and information needed to answer questions about our physical environment and how our actions affect the environment. In this emerging field, specialists manipulate spatial information and analyse data to project and present different outcomes. This information can then be used to solve problems where the spatial distribution of geographic information is important.

Typical Physical Working Environment

Cartographers and surveyors usually involve travelling to collect information. They may be required to liaise with clients, government officials and industry. They must enjoy design and computer graphics and enjoy geography. Cartographers and surveyors need to be able to work neatly and accurately, paying attention to detail. It is essential that they have a good understanding of mathematics and science. They also must be able to work independently or as part of a team.

Cartographers and surveyors primarily work in offices in cities and major regional centres. Surveying entails outdoor work and travel. These are usually full-time occupations, Monday to Friday 9:00 a.m to 5:00 p.m., with variations when working on-site.

Typical Occupational Example

Interesting career options are available locally, interstate and overseas. The employment outlook for cartographers and surveyors over the next few years is positive, with demand generated by urban and regional land development and mineral exploration. The demand is above average for the next few years as the demand for new skills related to technological advances and information technology continues to exceed the availability of skilled workers. Cartographic and surveying opportunities exist with local, state and federal governments. They also exist in the private sector in surveying, mapping and land management companies, the mining and petroleum industries, in specialist software development and in environmental management and research agencies. A degree in one of these fields equips you with the necessary skills needed to work in education, general science, information technology and business.

For further information, contact:

Mapping Sciences Institute, Australia (National Office)

Surveying & Spatial Sciences Institute (SSSI)
Phone: (08) 8212 0359

Surveyors Board SA
Phone: (08) 8212 0343

Earning Potential

Salaries begin around $28,000 and you can, in some cases, exceed $80,000 a year.

Further Information

For further information about all TAFE SA Courses, phone 1800 882 661 or enquire online