Become a Mapping Technician: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a mapping technician. Research the education requirements, training information and experience required for starting a career as a mapping technician.

Do I Want to Be a Mapping Technician?

Mapping technicians work with surveyors and cartographers to create new maps or adjust existing maps. They use geographic data, survey maps and other legal documents to create maps, mostly through the use of computers.

Mapping technicians are often employed on a contract basis by surveying and mapping firms, although some may be employed by state and local government agencies. Travel is typically included in the job. Full-time work is available. These professionals work in the field conducting research, but most of their time is spent behind a computer using mapping software.

Job Requirements

Employers generally require some postsecondary training for mapping technicians, which may come in the form of an associate's or bachelor's degree. Some technicians may also choose to become certified, although this is not required for employment in the field. The following table outlines the basic requirements for mapping technicians:

Common Requirements
Degree Level Associate's or bachelor's degree*
Degree Field Geomatics or a related subject*
Certification Voluntary certification is available*
Experience No experience is necessary*
Key Skills Ability to work well on teams*; strong critical-thinking and communication skills**
Computer Skills Familiarity with digital terrain modeling, geoimaging, computer aided design (CAD), graphics and photo imaging, global positioning system (GPS) and map creation software may be necessary**
Technical Skills Tools as drafting compasses, drafting kits, scanners and plotters**
Additional Requirements Some travel to document storage sites may be necessary, since mapping technicians use legal documents to complete their work*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **O Net OnLine.

Step 1: Earn a Degree

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that most employers require mapping technicians to have completed some postsecondary training, typically associate's or bachelor's degree programs (www.bls.gov). An individual interested in a career as a mapping technician can pursue studies in geomatics or a relevant field such as surveying technology or geospatial technology. These programs are available at colleges, universities, technical schools and community colleges. Students may take courses in physics, statistics, remote sensing, geographic information system (GIS) technology, digital mapping, photogrammetry, surveying and CAD. The BLS indicates that studies in GIS technology are especially important to potential employers. Students may also be required to complete design projects.

Success Tips:

  • Complete an internship. Some degree programs may offer the opportunity to, or even require, students to pursue an internship. An internship may be a great way for a student to gain hands-on experience working with mapping databases and CAD software. Interns generally work with professionals in the field and can add their work experience to their resumes.
  • Join a professional organization. Some organizations for mapping professionals offer memberships to students. Students may wish to join these professional associations to gain such benefits as monthly newsletters, conferences, workshops and access to member directories.

Step 2: Consider Certification

Certification is not required to secure a position as a mapping technician, but some individuals may wish to become certified to show prospective employers their experience and skill in the field. One example of a certification option is the Certified Mapping Scientist credential. This certification is offered by the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS), a professional association that focuses on imaging and geospatial information. Individuals must have three years of experience in mapping science and GIS. Successful completion of a written exam, compliance with a code of ethics and four professional references are also required. Certified individuals must renew their credentials every five years. Renewal requirements include such things as demonstrated contributions to the field and participation in technical conferences.

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