Surveying and Mapping Technicians

Career, Salary and Education Information

What They Do: Surveying and mapping technicians collect data and make maps of the Earth's surface.

Work Environment: Surveying technicians work outside extensively and can be exposed to all types of weather. Mapping technicians work primarily indoors on computers. Most surveying and mapping technicians work for firms that provide engineering, surveying, and mapping services on a contract basis. Local governments also employ these workers in highway and planning departments.

How to Become One: Surveying technicians usually need a high school diploma. However, mapping technicians often need formal education after high school to study technology applications, such as Geographic Information Systems.

Salary: The median annual wage for surveying and mapping technicians is $46,200.

Job Outlook: Employment of surveying and mapping technicians is projected to grow 4 percent over the next ten years, slower than the average for all occupations.

Related Careers: Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of surveying and mapping technicians with similar occupations.

Following is everything you need to know about a career as a surveying or mapping technician with lots of details. As a first step, take a look at some of the following jobs, which are real jobs with real employers. You will be able to see the very real job career requirements for employers who are actively hiring. The link will open in a new tab so that you can come back to this page to continue reading about the career:

Top 3 Surveying Technicians Jobs

  • Utility Gas Leak Survey Technician - Hydromax USA - Everett, WA

    As a Utility Gas Leak Survey Technician , you will be responsible for performing safety inspections using GPS and other digital technologies that are used to perform leak detection surveys for Puget ...

  • Survey Technician - PDQ Skilled Trades - Fort Worth, TX

    PDQ Skilled Trades is hiring immediately for Survey Technicians in the Fort Worth Area! Just continue reading to learn more about this position and how you can get a hold of us if interested! DAY-TO ...

  • Hydrographic Survey Technician - Global Diving and Salvage - Vallejo, CA

    We are currently seeking a Hydrographic Survey Technician to join our team in California . This ... Ability to use computers and highly specialized bathymetric surveying equipment required Physical ...

See all Surveying Technicians jobs

Top 3 Mapping Technicians Jobs

  • Survey Mapping Technician - DRC Engineering - Irvine, CA

    DRC Engineering Inc. is seeking a full-time Survey Mapping Technician for our Mapping Department. Below is a list of job duties and qualifications of the ideal candidate: • Prepare and process ...

  • Mapping/Surveying Technician - On-Call - Dudek - Kailua, HI

    The As-Needed Mapping /Surveying Technician will based in the Environmental division, but provide support for all disciplines in the firm. This position will be based in our Kailua office. Duties and ...

  • Mapping System Specialist - Aceolution - 98012, WA

    ... Mapping Data Technicians by creating and improving configurations to improve daily workflows. • Use GIS skills to support the geo data processing lifecycle from ingestion to submission. • ...

See all Mapping Technicians jobs

What Surveying and Mapping Technicians Do[About this section] [To Top]

Surveying and mapping technicians collect data and make maps of the Earth's surface. Surveying technicians visit sites to take measurements of the land. Mapping technicians use geographic data to create maps. They both assist surveyors, and cartographers and photogrammetrists.

Duties of Surveying and Mapping Technicians

Surveying technicians typically do the following:

  • Visit sites to record survey measurements and other descriptive data
  • Operate surveying instruments, such as electronic distance-measuring equipment (robotic total stations), to collect data on a location
  • Set out stakes and marks to conduct a survey
  • Search for previous survey points, such as old stone markers
  • Enter the data from surveying instruments into computers, either in the field or in an office

Surveying technicians help surveyors in the field on teams known as survey parties. A typical survey party has a party chief and one or more surveying technicians. The party chief, either a surveyor or a senior surveying technician, leads day-to-day work activities. After data is collected by the survey party, surveying technicians help process the data by entering the data into computers.

Mapping technicians typically do the following:

  • Select needed information from databases to create maps
  • Edit and process images that have been collected in the field
  • Produce maps showing boundaries, water locations, elevation, and other features of the terrain
  • Update maps to ensure accuracy
  • Assist photogrammetrists by laying out aerial photographs in sequence to identify areas not captured by aerial photography

Mapping technicians help cartographers and photogrammetrists produce and update maps. They do this work on computers, combining data from different sources. Mapping technicians may use drones to take photos and collect other information required to complete maps or surveys.

Geographic Information System (GIS) technicians use GIS technology to assemble, integrate, and display data about a particular location in a digital format. GIS technicians also maintain and update databases for GIS devices.

Work Environment for Surveying and Mapping Technicians[About this section] [To Top]

Surveying and mapping technicians hold about 54,800 jobs. The largest employers of surveying and mapping technicians are as follows:

Architectural, engineering, and related services 63%
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 12%
Utilities 5%
Self-employed workers 2%
Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction 1%

Most surveying and mapping technicians work for firms that provide engineering, surveying, and mapping services on a contractual basis. Local governments also employ these workers in highway and planning departments.

Surveying technicians work outside extensively and can be exposed to all types of weather. They often stand for long periods, walk considerable distances, and may have to climb hills with heavy packs of surveying instruments. Traveling is sometimes part of the job, and surveying technicians may commute long distances, stay away from home overnight, or temporarily relocate near a survey site.

Mapping technicians work primarily on computers in office environments. However, mapping technicians must sometimes conduct research by using resources such as survey maps and legal documents to verify property lines and to obtain information needed for mapping. This task may require traveling to storage sites, such as county courthouses or lawyers' offices, that house these legal documents.

Surveying and Mapping Technician Work Schedules

Surveying and mapping technicians typically work full time but may work additional hours during the summer, when weather and light conditions are most suitable for fieldwork. Construction-related work may be limited during times of harsh weather.

Mapping technicians who develop and maintain Geographic Information System (GIS) databases generally work normal business hours.

How to Become a Surveying or Mapping Technician[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Surveying and Mapping Technicians near you!

Surveying technicians usually need a high school diploma. However, mapping technicians often need formal education after high school to study technology applications, such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

Education for Surveying and Mapping Technicians

Surveying technicians generally need a high school diploma, but some have postsecondary training in survey technology. Postsecondary training is more common among mapping technicians where an associate's degree or bachelor's degree in a relevant field, such as geomatics, is beneficial.

High school students interested in working as a surveying or mapping technician should take courses in algebra, geometry, trigonometry, drafting, mechanical drawing, and computer science. Knowledge of these subjects may help in finding a job and in advancing.

Surveying and Mapping Technician Training

Surveying technicians learn their job duties under the supervision of a surveyor or a surveying party chief. Initially, surveying technicians handle simple tasks, such as placing markers on land and entering data into computers. With experience, they help decide where and how to measure the land.

Mapping technicians receive on-the-job training under the supervision of a lead mapper. During training, technicians learn how maps are created and stored in databases.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations for Surveying and Mapping Technicians

The growing need to make sure that data are useful to other professionals has caused certification to become more common. The American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) offers certification for photogrammetry, remote-sensing, and Geographic Information/Land Information Systems (GIS/LIS). The National Society of Professional Surveyors offers the Certified Survey Technician credential, and the GIS Certification Institute offers a GIS Professional certification.

Advancement for Surveying and Mapping Technicians

Depending on state licensing requirements, surveying technicians with many years of experience and formal training in surveying may be able to become licensed surveyors.

Important Qualities for Surveying and Mapping Technicians

Decisionmaking skills. Surveying technicians must be able to exercise some independent judgment in the field because they may not always be able to communicate with team members.

Detail oriented. Surveying and mapping technicians must be precise and accurate in their work. Their results are often entered into legal records.

Listening skills. Surveying technicians work outdoors and must communicate with party chiefs and other team members across distances. Following spoken instructions from the party chief is crucial for saving time and preventing errors.

Physical stamina. Surveying technicians usually work outdoors, often in rugged terrain. Physical fitness is necessary to carry equipment and to stand most of the day.

Problem-solving skills. Surveying and mapping technicians must be able to identify and fix problems with their equipment. They must also note potential problems with the day's work plan.

Surveying and Mapping Technician Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median annual wage for surveying and mapping technicians is $46,200. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $29,110, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $77,480.

The median annual wages for surveying and mapping technicians in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Utilities $62,740
Local government, excluding education and hospitals $52,750
Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction $50,620
Architectural, engineering, and related services $43,510

Surveying and mapping technicians typically work regular schedules but may work additional hours during the summer, when weather and light are most suitable for fieldwork. Construction-related work may be limited during times of harsh weather.

Mapping technicians who develop and maintain Geographic Information System (GIS) databases generally work normal business hours.

Job Outlook for Surveying and Mapping Technicians[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of surveying and mapping technicians is projected to grow 1 percent over the next ten years, slower than the average for all occupations.

Despite limited employment growth, about 7,000 openings for surveying and mapping technicians are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Most of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment of Surveying and Mapping Technicians

Increased demand for mapping technology is expected to require technicians to gather and prepare the data, even as drones and other advancements make workers more efficient and limit projected employment growth.

Employment projections data for Surveying and Mapping Technicians, 2020-30
Occupational Title Employment, 2020 Projected Employment, 2030 Change, 2020-30
Percent Numeric
Surveying and mapping technicians 54,800 56,900 4 2,000


A portion of the information on this page is used by permission of the U.S. Department of Labor.


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