Become a Mapping Technician: Education and Career Roadmap

Aug 02, 2018

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

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  • 0:04 Mapping Technician Career Info
  • 1:09 Earn a Degree
  • 2:17 Complete an Internship
  • 2:38 Consider Certification

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Mapping Technician Career Info

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.

Mapping technicians should have strong critical thinking and communication skills; the ability to work well on teams; and knowledge of digital terrain modeling, geo-imaging, computer-aided design, global positioning system, and map creation software. Surveying and mapping technicians working in the United States earned a median annual wage of $42,010 in 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Career Requirements at a Glance

Degree Level Associate's or bachelor's degree
Degree Field Geomatics, geospatial technology, surveying technology, 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; familiarity with digital terrain modeling, geo-imaging, computer-aided design (CAD), graphics and photo imaging, global positioning system (GPS), and map creation software may be necessary; knowledge of such tools as drafting compasses, drafting kits, scanners, and plotters
Median Salary (2015)* $42,010 (for surveying and mapping technicians)

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

Earn a Degree

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also notes that most employers require mapping technicians to have completed some postsecondary training, typically through associate's or bachelor's degree programs. An individual interested in a career as a mapping technician can pursue studies in geomatics or a related field, such as surveying technology or geospatial technology. Students in these programs may take courses in physics, statistics, remote sensing, geographic information system (GIS) technology, digital mapping, photogrammetry, surveying, and computer-aided design (or CAD). Studies in GIS technology are especially important to potential employers. Students may also be required to complete design projects.

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.

Complete an Internship

Some degree programs 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.

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. Passing exam scores, 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 demonstrated contributions to the field and participation in technical conferences, among other evidence of professional involvement.

Once again, many mapping technicians start their careers by first earning a degree then completing an internship, building their mapping and design skills, and considering certification in the field.

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