Surveying and mapping technicians assist with gathering, processing and entering geographical data to create an image of a region. They work alongside surveyors, cartographers, photogrammetrists and other specialists utilizing a unique set of measurements and tools to complete their work. While it is possible to enter this field with just a high school diploma, surveying and mapping technicians may complete a certificate or associate degree program that includes training in geographic information systems. Voluntary industry certification is also available, which could help technicians advance in their career.
|Required Education||Entry-level positions available with a high school diploma; Postsecondary training needed for some positions|
|Other Requirements||Optional certification available|
|Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)*||14%|
|Average Salary (2013)*||$43,540|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Surveying and mapping technicians can assist a surveyor in the field, be part of a survey party or act as party chief. On the job, these professionals are expected to take measurements, perform calculations and then record data with global positions system (GPS), geographic information systems (GIS) and computer-aided design (CAD) software. They must also be able to work as part of a team. It can be a physically demanding job, requiring workers to remain on their feet for long periods of time and haul or set up equipment on survey sites. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), some surveying and mapping technicians work regular office hours, while others travel to job sites and work varied shifts, depending on the weather and time of year (www.bls.gov).
Hands-on experience and practical knowledge is necessary to become a survey and mapping technician, so prospective technicians typically need to complete formal postsecondary training. Certificate and associate degree programs emphasize math, measurement techniques, zoning laws and mapping systems. Unlike surveyors, surveying and mapping technicians are not required to apply for state licensing, but they may choose to earn voluntary certification from the National Society of Professional Surveyors. There are four levels of certification, and attaining them could make it easier to find a position or advance in the field.
Due to the increased use of GPS technology and the need for maps, the BLS expected job opportunities for surveying and mapping technician to increase about as fast as those for other occupations from 2012-2022, by 14%. Prospective surveying and mapping technicians with GIS experience and a strong educational background might fair better, even in times of economic recession, due to the wide range of disciplines that employ surveyors and GIS technicians.
As of May 2013, the BLS reported an average yearly salary of $43,540 for surveying and mapping technicians, with the top ten percent making $66,770 or higher and the bottom ten percent earning $24,950 or less. Engineering and architecture firms employed the greatest number of surveying and mapping technicians at that time. However, this industries had an average salary lower than the national average, paying their technicians an average of $39,980 per year. The highest paying industries included natural gas distribution, pipeline transportation of natural gas, and oil and gas extraction.