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Cartographer at work (1943)

Cartographer or cartographer is the general job title for professionals who deal with map making and other cartography tasks . In doing so, they record and interpret spatial data and information in particular: the terrain (topography), digital geodata and other geographic information. This data is processed with the aim of producing cards or card-related products. In this general, also historically developed sense, engineers , scientists and technicians working in cartography are equally referred to as cartographers.

The profession of cartographer is thematically related to the fields of geodesy (in particular land survey , geography , photogrammetry and remote sensing ) as well as geoinformatics , geomatics , computer science , graphics and design .


The spelling of the general job title is currently different ( cartographer and cartographer ). With reference to the technical, especially data processing changes in the job description, the spelling cartographer is often preferred. The 25th edition of Duden recommends spelling with F. In Switzerland, the spelling cartography and cartographer are officially set. The spelling Kartograph is still in use, especially in Germany.



In Germany there are the following professional training paths:

  • Practical cartography training
    • Cartographers are trained in the state-recognized training occupation in commercial or official cartography for three years. You mainly process cartographic originals with the help of computer-aided map construction programs according to drafts and specifications. After the Vocational Training Act (Vocational Training Act) the job title is a cartographer or cartographer .
    • In 2009 and 2010, the employers 'associations (AdV, BDVI), workers' associations (ver.di) and professional associations (DGfK, DVW, DGPF, DMV) merged the two professions of cartographer and surveyor in the new occupation of geographic information technology . The profession of cartographer is replaced by the profession of geomatic engineer .
  • Academic mapping training
    • Graduated engineers (FH) specializing in cartography complete their studies at one of the universities of applied sciences in Berlin , Dresden , Karlsruhe or Munich . You are mainly responsible for the development, drafting and editing of cartographic products and also take on management and management functions.
    • Graduated engineers specializing in cartography complete a major at the Technical University of Dresden ( Institute for Cartography ). Graduated engineers are active in research and teaching at universities or as heads of authorities and companies or take on management and management functions there.
    • In accordance with the Bologna process , the previous diploma courses have been converted to the new Bachelor and Master degrees, which are comparable across Europe and which together have to cover a duration of 10 semesters. This eliminates the distinction between FH and university diplomas. At the TU Dresden with the course cartography and geomedia technology this change took place with the winter semester 2008/09.
    • At other universities it is possible to study geodesy or geography with a minor in cartography.


On the one hand, the apprenticeship cartographer exists in Austria , v. a. in card publishers . On the other hand, at the University of Vienna , Faculty of Geosciences , Geography and Astronomy , a master’s degree in cartography and geoinformation can be studied.

At the Vienna University of Technology , cartography can be chosen as a specialization in the study of surveying and geoinformation .


Training in Switzerland is only possible as a four-year apprenticeship at the Federal Office for Topography in Wabern. The private companies Kümmerly & Frey (Bern), Orell Füssli (Zurich) and Swissair Photo und Vermessungen (Regensdorf) also trained cartographers until around 1992. The job title is a trained cartographer or a trained cartographer . The training regulations have been revised by the Geomatiker / in Schweiz sponsoring association since 2008; Subject to the approval of the Federal Office for Professional Education and Technology and the Federal Council , the job title in Switzerland will be geomatics (with a focus on cartography) from 2010 .

At the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich , Institute for Cartography, however, cartography cannot be majored in. Instead, geomatic engineers, geographers, etc. can take cartography as a minor.

Historical names

The term "cartographer" (at that time with ph-spelling) came about shortly before 1830. Today the cartographers of antiquity, the Middle Ages and the early modern period are also often referred to as cartographers. The self-name used at the time was either related to the technique used (“chalcographus”, “sculptor”, “cartolithograph”) or referred explicitly to the share in the work (“auctor”, “delineator”).

Only a few specialists like Gerhard Mercator devoted their lives entirely to cartography as “cosmographus” or “geographus”. In some states it happened that successful "cartographers" were awarded the title of an imperial geographer ( Johann Baptist Homann in the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation) or a " geographe du roi" ( Guillaume Delisle in France). In German, the term "map maker" or " map painter " was also in use.

Most of the "cartographers" before the introduction of the training occupation in the middle of the 20th century, however, only worked in cartography on the side or occasionally. Many “cartographers” of the early modern period were scientists of various kinds, such as Hebraists ( Sebastian Münster ), doctors ( Konrad Türst ), mathematicians and theologians ( Johannes Schöner ) or astronomers ( Edmond Halley ). Others carried out activities in the publishing industry such as booksellers and publishers ( Matthäus Merian ) or copper engravers ( Matthäus Seutter ). From the 17th century military engineers ( Daniel Specklin ), from the 19th century actual surveyors and geodesists ( Karl von Müffling ) were active in cartography. Artists and professionals such as glass painter ( Hans Conrad Gyger ), master builder ( Erich Philipp Ploennies ) and farmer ( Peter Anich ) are still known today as “cartographers”, while the achievements in their traditional profession sometimes take a back seat or are almost forgotten.

Various explorers ( Thomas Mackenzie ) and naturalists ( Eduard Wassiljewitsch Toll ) named as “cartographers” are often map authors rather than cartographers in the sense of the printing-technical reproduction of the expedition results in question. The frequently used verb "to map" means in everyday language mostly the recording - with or without measurement - of previously unknown coastlines or areas of land. Ship captains or expedition leaders are therefore often mistakenly referred to in biographies as "cartographers", although only a few actually have actually drawn maps themselves.

In the military field, “cartographers” (often soldiers who were only able to draw) were used as regimental draftsmen until the Second World War , in order to precisely map the topography of the changing front lines and thus provide the general staffs with appropriate templates for discussion.

Cartographers' directories

The first cartographer's directory with 170 names was the Catalogus auctorum by Abraham Ortelius , which appeared in his atlas Theatrum Orbis Terrarum in 1570. Another well-known directory was published by Vincenzo Maria Coronelli in his Cronologia Universale (1707). The freelance geographer and important cartography theorist Johann Gottfried Gregorii alias Melissantes published an extensive German-language directory with biograms of international and German cartographers in his Curieusen thoughts of the most distinguished and most accurate old and new country charts based on his earlier geographical writings in 1713 .

In the German-speaking world, modern directories were published by Leo Bagrow (1951) and Wilhelm Bonacker (1966). The latest international directory, Tooley's dictionary of mapmakers , lists around 27,000 people in four volumes. There are separate directories for various countries and regions, such as Great Britain, Poland, Spain and Switzerland.

Famous cartographers

sorted by year of birth , see also category: cartographer

15th century

16th Century

17th century

18th century

19th century

20th century

See also


  • Joachim Neumann: Conceptual history about the cartographer . In: “ Kartographische Nachrichten ” 38, 5 (1988) pp. 185–190.
  • Tooley's dictionary of mapmakers . Revised ed., Ed. by Josephine French ... [et al.]. Riverside, CT: Early World Press, 1999-2004. ISBN 0-906430-14-3 (Vol. 1).

Web links

Individual evidence

  2. HTW Dresden: Student Advisory Service ( Memento from February 14, 2010 in the Internet Archive ).
  3. Melissantes: Curieuse thoughts from the most elegant and most accurate old and new country charts. Frankfurt, Leipzig [and Erfurt] 1713; Bavarian State Library, Munich