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Reading the Map: 6 Careers That Let You Show Off Your Topography Skills


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Topography involves charting the surface of the land in a three-dimensional rendition. Three-dimensional models may be created in meticulous detail on the computer using specialized software or in more broad features on paper maps. Developing the ability to create and decipher these renditions is an important skill to have in many careers, whether you are studying the topography of the Earth, the surface of an asteroid in space or the structure of the human brain.


1. Land Surveyor

Land surveyors help determine boundaries for land plots. As part of your career as a land surveyor you will create accurate maps of the land surface to help decide where roads and buildings should go, making topography a skill that is crucial to your job.

Knowing how to create and interpret maps can be used in many different fields. Whether you are looking to pursue a career in the earth sciences, astronomy, construction or the medical field.

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2. Construction Engineer

Land and construction surveying are often included in the job description for construction engineers as part of the process to design and construct infrastructures such as roads, airports, and dams. Without topography, knowledge to consider land features your carefully planned structures can crumble and put the public in danger.

3. General Contractor

General Contractors might seem like managers who can leave the topography work to someone else, but general contractors need to know which specialists should be hired for a specific job and when. If a general contractor hires a construction specialist to build a foundation before the ground is prepared correctly, precious time will be wasted and the project might fall behind schedule. Knowing the features of each plot and how to handle the topography can help the general contractor keep projects running smoothly.

Photo by Alexander Andrews on Unsplash

4. Cartographer

Whether you want to map the surface of the Earth, the moon or other planets, cartographers need to have topography skills to create true renditions of surface areas that others can rely on for accuracy. You might create maps for explorers, educators or geologists—there really are an endless line of people that use maps on a daily basis.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

5. Architect

Architects need to consider every aspect of a site when designing a building or other structure. Local weather patterns and the lay of the land are just a couple of factors that determine whether a structure can be successful in a specific area. Topography knowledge is essential for an architect to be able to plan a building accordingly.

6. Neuroradiologist

Topography skills can be useful in careers not directly to the use of land maps. Neuroradiologists study the brain topography to make a diagnosis of what is wrong with a patient and how to proceed with treatment. Brain topography takes mapping to a new level and moves the earth science into biological applications.

Knowing how to create and interpret maps can be used in many different fields. Whether you are looking to pursue a career in the earth sciences, astronomy, construction or the medical field, having experience with mapping and topography is an excellent skill to have.

According to, employment of cartographers and photogrammetrists is projected to grow 19 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. Job prospects are likely to be excellent due to the increasing use of maps in government planning.

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