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Career Info for a Degree in General Surveying Engineering

General surveying engineering is generally an associate's or bachelor's degree program. Continue reading for an overview of the educational and training requirements, as well as career and salary info for some career options for graduates.

Surveying technicians, surveyors and mapping technicians are all professionals who can prepare for their career by completing a degree in general surveying engineering. An associate's degree is typically required for surveying technicians and mapping technicians, while surveyors need to have a bachelor's degree in surveying engineering or a related field. Surveyors must also be licensed, and employers prefer mapping technicians and surveying technicians with prior work experience.

Essential Information

General surveying engineering, commonly known simply as surveying, refers to the applied science of measuring and mapping the Earth's surface. It is a traditional discipline that has evolved with advances in technology. A number of careers are available in this broad field, including surveying technician, surveyor and mapping technician, though the requirements vary according to position.

Career Surveying Technician Surveyor Mapping Technician
Education Requirements Associate's degree in surveying engineering Bachelor's degree in surveying engineering or similar fields Associate's or bachelor's degree in cartography, geography or surveying
Other Requirements 1-2 years of work experience State approved license Some work experience
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* -8% for surveying and mapping technicians -2% -8% for surveying and mapping technicians
Average Salary (2015)* $44,800 for surveying and mapping technicians $61,880 $44,800 for surveying and mapping technicians

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Career Options

There are a variety of career options to choose from in the field of general surveying engineering, including surveying technician, surveyor and mapping technician. These career options have varied job duties and educational requirements.

Surveying Technician

A major element in general surveying engineering is the collection of data from the field. This task is commonly performed by surveying technicians, who collect land data like distances, angles and elevations. They use specialized equipment, including prisms, transits, theodolites, field computers, global positioning systems and vertical rod targets, to collect and record data. They also use various reference points in the field, including property corners and surveying monuments. Additionally, surveying technicians perform calculations to determine the effects of surface curvature and atmospheric conditions on their measurements. They document their findings in reports and drawings.

Requirements

There are no strict education requirements for this career; however, some surveying technicians obtain associate's degrees in surveying engineering or related subjects. Employers typically require surveying technicians to also have 1-2 years of work experience, which may be obtained by completing surveying apprenticeships. These programs provide apprentices with hands-on instruction in the use of surveying instruments and methods.

Surveyor

Surveyors play a lead role in the process of measuring and mapping the Earth's surface. They verify all data collected from the field by comparing it with information gathered from other sources, like legal records, older surveying records, land titles and deeds. They then analyze this body of data and use it to prepare maps and reports, which in turn are used for such purposes as establishing legal property lines and right-of-way boundaries. Surveyors may be summoned to provide expert testimony in court, such as in cases involving property boundary disputes.

Requirements

Many surveyors obtain bachelor's degrees in surveying engineering or similar fields, such as civil engineering or forestry. Surveying engineering programs may include courses in computer mapping, remote sensing and geology. All states require surveyors to be licensed. Licensure generally entails completion of a state-approved surveying program and four years of supervised work experience as well as passage of a series of exams administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (www.ncees.org).

Mapping Technician

Mapping technicians support surveyors by creating and updating maps. They may help interpret field and research data and convert the data into map form. They verify calculations and determine conversion scales to ensure maps are accurate and easy to read. Verification may involve the use of aerial photographs to confirm that all features are depicted on corresponding maps. Mapping technicians update existing maps by adding overlays that represent changes to boundaries or that reflect other changes, such as construction and development, the addition of roads or new water features.

Requirements

Many mapping technicians obtain associate's or bachelor's degrees in related subjects, such as cartography, geography or surveying. Some schools offer certificates in geographic information science (GIS). Coursework in these programs may include computer mapping, spatial analysis, map interpretation and remote sensing. Many employers require candidates to also have work experience.

Job Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment of surveyors is expected to decline 2% from 2014 to 2024 (www.bls.gov). Surveying and mapping technicians are expected to see an employment decrease of 8% in the same time frame. Technological advancements that have reduced the need for surveying and mapping technicians are contributing to the job decline in this field. In May 2015, surveyors earned an average annual salary of $61,880, while surveying and mapping technicians earned an average salary of $44,800.

Surveying professionals measure and map the surface of the Earth. Professionals in this field include surveying technicians, surveyors, and mapping technicians. These professionals produce reports and maps; surveyors must also perform detailed research to ensure the accuracy of the information they document.

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