Discover your career path


Illustrate maps by reviewing aerial photos with an eagle eye.

What does a Photogrammetrist do?

Despite its name, which sounds like the profession of a grammatically correct shutterbug, photogrammetry isn’t what happens when you mix a Photographer with a piece of punctuation. (Although a semicolon would make a sexy centerfold – if your name is Charles Dickens and the year is 1860.) Instead, photogrammetry is the practice of using photographs to make maps.

Indeed, a Photogrammetrist is paid to analyze, measure and interpret aerial images for the purpose of mapmaking. Traditionally, a Photogrammetrist would make maps by assembling a collage of overlapping photos, then tracing the photos in map form. Today, Photogrammetrists do the same thing, only digitally, using special software and computer graphics equipment.

Because your maps typically depict areas of the earth that are inaccessible, you must have a sharp eye that’s capable of determining topography simply by analyzing light and shadows. Similarly, you must be able to look at photographs and distinguish between land and water, hills and valleys, and man-made objects like power lines and roads. Although easy on the ground and in person, it’s much more difficult from the air and in photographs.

Whether you’re mapping mountain ranges, air routes or seafloors – all potential tasks for Photogrammetrists – you’ll be asked to look at images, determine what’s what within them, then use mathematics to identify, scale and orient distinguishing geographic features. Simply put: If the earth is artwork, your job is breaking into the museum, stealing a picture of it, then making a reproduction of it.