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What Do Surveying and Mapping Technicians Do?

Gathering the data to establish the exact route of a new road or determining the correct borders and topography of a plot of land — these are the tasks of surveying and mapping technicians. Surveying technicians primarily collect survey data while mapping technicians primarily help produce or update maps. Depending on the size and focus of the company, some technicians do both tasks while others specialize.

They both use modern surveying and mapping instruments to assist licensed surveyors as well as cartographers and photogrammetrists. (Cartographers make maps while photogrammetrists conduct aerial and satellite surveys.) These technicians are trained to obtain data used for construction, mapmaking, boundary location, mining and more.

Technicians take measurements and perform calculations with the global positioning system (GPS), geographic information systems (GIS) and computer-aided design (CAD) software.

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$ 26,000 - $ 75,000
$ 45,000
6,480+
Surveying and mapping technicians require unique skills, including a clear understanding of geometry and the ability to take concise measurements of an area.
Most surveying and mapping technicians work for firms that provide engineering, surveying and mapping services on a contract basis. (Credit: LightField Studios/Shutterstock)
A Day In the Life
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Zachary Clark Gooch, surveying and mapping technician
A Day In the Life

Zachary Clark Gooch is a surveying and mapping technician in Niceville, Florida, and he wants to clear the air about a common misconception: Land surveyors aren’t the people who ask survey questions. They're the people who collect data and make maps. 

“It wasn’t pushed as a profession when I was in high school,” says Gooch who realized that his favorite task in his old job was making maps — and that became his ticket to changing careers.

Job Responsibilities
  • Gather data used to confirm the accuracy of existing records
  • Set up, adjust and operate surveying equipment
  • Measure, record and calculate data 
  • Search for previous survey points on site or through records
  • Edit and process images and data from surveying equipment
  • Help produce or update maps showing boundaries and the location of water, elevation and other terrain details
Education + Training

A high school education or equivalent is typically required. Additional training in survey technology also may be needed, depending on the job. A certificate or associate degree program that includes training in geographic information systems (GIS) is becoming the norm. All technicians do on-the-job training either as part of a survey team or learning from a lead mapper how maps are created and stored in a database. Many do both.

Because these skills are needed in many professions, certification by national boards is becoming more common, such as the four-level National Society of Professional Surveyors Certified Survey Technician program. Requirements for licensing vary by state. Certifications and licensing can provide a path for advancement.

You May Be a Good Fit for This Position If You
  • Have strong problem-solving skills
  • Are detail-oriented
  • Have excellent listening skills
  • Have the physical stamina to do outdoor surveying in rugged terrain
  • Have good decision-making skills

Surveying and Mapping Technicians Training in Your Area

Coordinates
University of Arkansas Community College - Morrilton logo

Surveying Technical Certificate

University of Arkansas Community College - Morrilton
Morrilton (212.8 Miles)
University of Arkansas Community College - Morrilton logo

Surveying, A.A.S.

University of Arkansas Community College - Morrilton
Morrilton (212.8 Miles)
University of Arkansas Community College - Morrilton logo

Surveying Certificate Of Proficiency

University of Arkansas Community College - Morrilton
Morrilton (212.8 Miles)
Three Rivers College logo

Forestry Technology, Surveying Option, A.A.S.

Three Rivers College
Poplar Bluff (292.5 Miles)
Three Rivers College logo

Surveying, Certificate

Three Rivers College
Poplar Bluff (292.5 Miles)
Northeast Community College logo

Precision Agriculture, A.A.S.

Northeast Community College
Norfolk (354.2 Miles)
Southeast Technical Institute logo

Land Surveying Science Technology, A.A.S

Southeast Technical Institute
Sioux Falls (451.3 Miles)
Lone Star College System logo

Geographic Information Systems Technician Certificate Level I

Lone Star College System
The Woodlands (477.1 Miles)
Lone Star College System logo

Geographic Information Systems Analyst Certificate Level II

Lone Star College System
The Woodlands (477.1 Miles)
Lone Star College System logo

Geographic Information Systems, A.A.S.

Lone Star College System
The Woodlands (477.1 Miles)
Lone Star College System logo

Land Surveyor Certificate Level I

Lone Star College System
The Woodlands (477.1 Miles)
Lone Star College System logo

Land Surveying & Mapping Technology, A.A.S.

Lone Star College System
The Woodlands (477.1 Miles)

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Surveying and Mapping Technicians