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.
- 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
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.
- 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