I think this actually might be easier to understand for the general audience than "cartographer" ("When I heard you were a cartographer, I thought you took pictures of cars..." comes to mind)
I increasingly struggle with the words Cartographer and Cartography. This is despite having previous held job titles of "Cartography Product Manager", and even "Cartography Evangelist" (the last one was great as a conversation starter when handing over a business card). At present I'm a much more bland "Business Development Consultant".
The word Cartography is relatively recent (1820s), while Map and Chart go back for millennia. See This thread from MapHist.
Last week I ran the inuagural ESRI European regional Cartography SIG meeting at the EMEA User Conference in London. We had about 40 present, out of a conference attendence of over 1500. The next day, I was giving a workshop entitled "Making a Better Map (using Cartographic Representations and Maplex)", and had three times as many people. Clearly more people are interested in mapmaking than in cartography!
Some of the problem is that cartography (certainly in English) sounds to be an academic discipline, while mapmaking is a very practical craft, albeit one that incorporates aspects of art and of science.
Another problem is that in the past, the products of cartographic endeavour were very tangible paper maps. Now increasingly, the same skills are being (or should be) applied to create ephemeral screen displays, or intangible/invisible datasets for use in SDIs (Spatial data Infrastructure), as are the focus of the European INSPIRE directive.
My handout for the SIG meeting had a section "What is Cartography?", saying:
Cartography, as used as a term within GIS is “the art, science and craft of making maps”. A ‘map’ in this context means all sorts of map products (topographic, geologic, road, tourist, etc), and includes navigation charts, detailed plans and other visual geographic products, whether on hardcopy (paper, film, etc) or softcopy (screen image, Acrobat PDF file, etc). Cartography focuses on the stage of the GIS workflow from the database to the product, and cartographers concentrate on the map as a communications medium – clear, unambiguous, attractive, and easy for the end-user to understand. GIS users who do cartography are found in many industries and branches of government but particularly in national and regional mapping agencies (NMAs) and in commercial map publishing companies.
I do believe there is a place for the word Cartography, particularly to stress the communication aspects of GIS and of mapmaking, but in general, we are often better off describing ourselves to the masses as mapmakers.
As a final thought, within our professional circle, I wonder if it would be appropriate to encourage more use of the word 'Engineer' (as in 'Map Engineer')? A good Civil Engineer, as a result of his education, training and skills, will design and implement a bridge that is both artistically pleasing and scientifically sound, but also efficient and economic. Similarly for a Software Engineer. Thoughts?