A cartographer measures, analyses, manages, stores and displays spatial data describing the Earth, its physical features and the built environment. The information comes from satellites, air and sea-borne sensors and ground-based instruments. It is processed and manipulated with state-of-the-art information technology, using computer software and hardware.

A cartographer is also involved with the scientific, technological and artistic aspects of developing and producing maps. Cartographers present complex information as diagrams, charts and spreadsheets, as well as in the form of conventional maps. Geographical information systems (GIS) and digital-mapping techniques now dominate the role. Maps and detailed geographical information are needed for a range of purposes, from everyday use by individuals to large-scale industrial development.

Cartographers work within a variety of areas, including publishing, government, surveying and conservation. The role varies widely from the development and design of geographical information to more strategic and technical work.