Air operations support

Air Cartographer

Air Cartographers are crucial to helping our forces fly safe and successful missions. They create and edit key documents used by UK Armed Forces, foreign air forces and some civilian airlines.

Typical Responsibilities:

  • Create maps that show airways over countries
  • Update charts to help pilots take off and land safely
  • Edit cartography books

Similar civilian roles include  Commercial cartographer, Civil service cartographer, Air traffic controller or Environmental computer modeller.


Royal Air Force - Regular & Reserve

RAF Regulars and Reserves work side by side.

Scroll down to explore the opportunities as an Air Cartographer in the RAF.

Key Facts

Full Time

Initial pay after training

£18,489 + Benefits

Pay during training

£14,931 + Benefits

Entry level



Minimum 3 years post Phase Two Training

Royal Air Force - Regular & Reserve

In the RAF

My Role

‘I work in the mission planning section, where we supply all the RAF squadrons with data such as maps and digital information. It’s a really varied role — one day I could be supplying information for the transport of a VIP, the next day it could be a mission.’

My Day

‘We’ve recently been upgrading to a new map system, adding a lot more detail. That involved removing, updating and replacing all the digital map disks, and changing the application settings. It’s really cutting-edge stuff, very technical. Our maps contain all sorts of detailed information on the terrain, from elevation and landscape data, to where power lines are located.’

David, Air Cartographer


Royal Air Force - Regular & Reserve

Full Time

Initial Training

Your career will start with a 10 week Basic Recruit Training Course at RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire. The course is designed to help you adjust to a military environment. As well as fitness and military training, you’ll also learn about the RAF lifestyle.

Specialist Training

The next step is a 12-week specialist training course at the School of Air Cartography at RAF Northolt. This course is designed to give you a basic understanding of your role and prepare you for your first section. The training will also provide you with the opportunity to gain a DAO Level 4 Certificate in Aeronautical Cartography (QCF).

Ongoing Development

There are opportunities to attain qualifications in Geospatial Analysis and, as your career progresses, we’ll continue to train you in new technical skills as well as skills in management and leadership.

Your First Tour

You’ll work in one of our departments on takeoff and landing charts, charts of the airways, fast jet and helicopter charts, or analysing an information database.

Career Prospects/Progression

You will initially join the RAF for a period of twelve years on a Notice Engagement. After completing one year’s total service, you will be eligible for promotion to Senior Aircraftman, providing you pass a Trade Ability Test and Basic Trade Training. Further promotion to the rank of Corporal and beyond is by competitive selection.

Transferable Skills

Many of the software packages that we use are industry standard and skills are easily transferable. The Diploma you can earn is as valuable in the civilian world as it is in the RAF – which means that whenever you leave the Service, you’ll be well placed to find a job in commercial or civil service cartography.


Full Time

Job requirements


You need:
GCSE at Grade C/4-5 or equivalent in English Language
GCSE at Grade C/4-5 or equivalent in Maths
SCE Standard Grades at Grade 2/Scottish National 5 in English Language
SCE Standard Grades at Grade 2/Scottish National 5 in Maths


  • 17-35 (Must attest before 36th birthday)

RAF Requirements

To join the RAF you will also need to meet fitness, health, nationality, residency, and other criteria detailed below.




Full Time