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Survey Technician: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a survey technician. Get an overview of the requirements - including degree options, licensure and job duties - to determine if this is the right career for you.

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Essential Information

Survey technicians assist surveyors and other mapmakers in obtaining and computing data relevant to measuring the Earth's features. They may work for a construction company, municipality or state government. Some surveyors complete formal postsecondary courses or programs, and voluntary certification is available.

Required EducationHigh school diploma or equivalent; postsecondary training available
Other RequirementsVoluntary certification available
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)*14% (surveying and mapping technicians)
Average Salary (2013)*$43,540 (surveying and mapping technicians)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Survey Technician Job Description

Survey technicians help measure and map the Earth's land and other natural features. They collect field data to report back to surveyors and other mapmaking professionals. Most of their data collection is captured through global positioning or geographical information systems. Whether they're working indoors or outdoors, survey technicians gather vital data used for the creation of topographical maps.

Survey Technician Job Duties

Survey technicians set up, adjust and operate the equipment used at surveying job sites. They measure, record and calculate data based on readings from those instruments. They lie out and recover markings, stakes and other such signifiers at work locations. They help create drawings and computer images of the locations they're assigned to. They may also assist in directing other members of surveying teams.

Requirements of a Survey Technician

Education

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that while the minimum education needed to become a survey technician is a high school diploma, some employers require survey technicians to have earned a bachelor's degree in the field (www.bls.gov). A number of universities offer surveying programs, which teach the principles of the field, as well as the technology behind it. Students learn how to collect data, create maps and manage survey projects.

According to the BLS, technician jobs are typically entry-level positions for surveyors with formal education. As they learn skills on the job, they may be able to advance to a senior technician. Further advancement awaits those with significant work experience or certification in the profession. Voluntary certification as a Certified Survey Technician is available through the National Society of Professional Surveyors.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The BLS projected jobs for survey technicians to grow 14% from 2012-2022, which was close to the average for all other careers. Advances in mapping technology will be the primary reason for job growth. As of May 2013, surveying and mapping technicians earned an average wage of $43,540 annually, according to the BLS.

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