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in Geographic Information Systems – Cartographic Specialist (Part-time)

Are you a visual learner? This program may be right for you. The Part-time Geographic Information Systems - Cartographic Specialist program focuses on the art and science of communicating geographic data and information through visualization and maps. Become a proficient GIS practitioner and visual designer - creating a variety of customized, interactive maps and other products for users of geographic information.

Cartography - known as the art and science of making maps, has come a long way since the efforts of early mapmakers who worked with pen and ink. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) allows today's "cartographer" to store geographic data in an organized way, to allow for quick access, correlation, and analysis. By using GIS, cartographers are able to collect, store, and combine data about a given area, subject, or region being researched. GIS helps planners working on environmental, public health, municipal planning, and natural resource projects monitor change, predict trends and manage resources.

While about 80% of the curriculum is shared with the GIS – Application Specialist program, the Cartographic-specific courses in this program include:


  • Visualize a wide range of data using a variety of mapping techniques (i.e. Choropleth, Dasymetric, Proportional Dot, Dot Density, Distributive and Radial Flow, Terrain Visualization)
  • Create infographics that effectively summarize data and communicate intuitively using a variety of mapping and graphing techniques
  • Prepare data and perform advanced terrain visualization techniques using satellite imagery and SRTM data to build up terrain surfaces manually in Adobe Photoshop using Avenza Geographic Imager
  • Learn the theory behind how people process information, how maps impact people cognitively, and how to use that information to make effective, accessible maps
  • Prepare, integrate, and render data about human and physical geography using ArcGIS, Avenza, and Adobe software.

Web Communications

  • Become proficient in web communications for effective design and interactive maps.

Municipal GIS

  • Learn about the business practices that drive municipal operations and how to prepare information products to support decision making in a municipality
  • Prepare, analyze, integrate and render data in a variety of formats, using AutoCAD and ArcGIS software, to support various departments in a municipality
  • Work on a real-world micro-project in collaboration with a GIS professional working at a municipality

In addition to acquiring a firm, hands-on foundation using GIS technology tools and creating effective map compositions, you will have many opportunities for team building, project management, problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Since employers are seeking these broad-based transferrable skills, this experience working in technology teams will give you an edge in the workplace.

Within this unique option, you can study part-time from anywhere – giving you greater flexibility in your personal and professional life. Please see curriculum for detailed information on courses and semesters.

Please note: To maintain part-time status in the program, students must take a minimum of three courses per semester. If you take four or more courses per semester you will be considered a full-time student and will subject to tuition rates as a full-time student

Graduates of Fleming's cartographic programs have earned a reputation for excellence through their achievements in the workplace, and through cartographic and GIS competitions. Over the years, they have captured 80 American Congress on Surveying and Mapping awards in annual competitions (student category), as well as numerous awards from the Canadian Cartographic Association and the Canadian Institute of Geomatics.

Meghan Miller

Graduate Meghan Miller is featured in a January 2012 article of GoGeomaticswith an interview describing her experience in the program and her career path since graduation. Meghan now works for Canadian Cartographic Corporation (CCC).

Read the article

Adam Thom

Adam Thom, 2010 program graduate, won the Arthur Robinson Award for Best Printed Map at the 2011 Cartography and Geographic Information Society (CaGIS) Map Design Competition. The award is sponsored by the National Geographic Society and Avenza-MAPublisher.

Nicole Benishek

Student Nicole Benishek won the Gold Medal for "Best Interactive Online Map" in the Canadian Cartographic Association 2010 Online Mapping Contest.

You'll spend a significant part of your time in the program doing experiential work - putting theory into practice. A co-operative GIS project in the final semester involves cross-disciplinary teams from the GIS Cartographic Specialist and Applications Specialist programs working together on a project for a business, government, or industry client.

While not prerequisites, there are a few skills and abilities that will help you to succeed in this program. These include:

  • good creative thinking skills
  • strong oral and written communication skills
  • self-discipline
  • excellent time management skills
  • analytical skills
  • computing skills

Canadian Business recently published an article on "Canada’s Best Jobs" ranking Mapping Technologist as number 9 on the top 100 jobs list. The article states:

"The explosion of big data and the growing need for location-aware hardware and software has led to a boom in the field of mapping," and concludes that this field is "…poised for growth, with the highest projected demand among the top 20 jobs—predictions suggest there will be 1.59 jobs for every qualified worker by 2022." The median salary is listed as $68,400, and salaries are anticipated to increase with growing demand for skilled employees.

Read the full article

With your GIS-Cartographic Specialist certificate, you will be able to pursue a variety of exciting, responsible positions within GIS and digital mapping environments, such as:

  • provincial and federal government mapping agencies
  • municipal utility, engineering, and planning departments
  • private sector mapping, planning, consulting, utility, and natural resource firms

Plan to spend about $1000 for books and supplies.

If you have significant difficulty perceiving distinctions between colours you will experience greater challenges in map-making.

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