How to Become a Survey Technician

How to Become a Survey Technician: Career Guide

If you’re interested in utilizing technology and working outdoors, in well paying career with growth potential, then you may be suited for a career as a survey technician.


Below we've outlined what you'll need to become a survey technician. We've also included helpful information for a survey technician career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!




Education Needed To Become a Survey Technician

To become a survey technician, one typically needs to have earned a two year diploma in geomatics engineering technology. 


An undergraduate or graduate degree in geography, engineering or a closely related field such as environmental science is usually necessary to advance to careers such as professional surveyor.




Survey Technician Job Description

Survey technicians are responsible for gathering, analyzing, interpreting and using geospatial information for the purpose of defining locations of natural and manmade features on, above and below the earth's surface.  



Survey Technician Job Duties

• Provide technical and administrative support and assistance for a company or government agency’s GIS program

• Manage the operation of specialized GIS equipment, data, software and products

• Assist in the development and creation of databases, maps and related projects

• Attend conferences and workshops for professional development purposes

• Collect, manipulate and present data using methods such as ground surveys, remote sensing, aerial photographs, laser ranging, global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) or hydrographic methods

• Provide data to be used for analysis and mapping in geographic information systems

• Use information from GNSS to determine exact coordinates

• Use digital mapping techniques and computer assisted design (CAD) software to generate maps and related graphs and charts

• Process digital data to clean up graphical and attribute errors



Who Hires Survey Technicians?

There are a variety of employers that can utilize the specialized skill set of survey technicians, including:


• Private sector surveying and mapping companies

• Forestry consulting firms

• Engineering and architectural consulting firms

• Computer software companies

• Natural resource companies

• Utility companies

• The armed forces

• Federal, provincial/state and municipal government agencies


How to Get a Job as a Survey Technician

Entry-level positions in the field of surveying, such as survey technician, are very competitive. Having work experience or internship experience may be a pre-requisite for a permanent job in this field, depending on who the employer is. Landing an internship opportunity or getting a part-time job with an organization involved in mapping, cartography or land surveying are great ways to add beef to your resume and stay ahead of the competition.


If you have all of the necessary pre-requisites for getting a job as a survey technician (looking at specific job postings will give you a great idea of what those are), your last step to becoming a survey technician is to make a list of possible employers and suitable positions, and start handing out resumes. Do your research and figure out which companies are hiring survey technicians and related positions; these employers will be in a variety of sectors.




Survey Technician Salary

The salary level for survey technicians can vary depending on many factors, such as where the technician works, how much education and experience they have, and many others.


According to the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Mapping and Related Technologists and Technicians occupational group, which includes survey technicians, earned on average from $23.94 to $36.94 an hour.


The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that workers in the Surveying and Mapping Technicians employment group, which includes survey technicians, had a median annual salary of $37,900 (2010 figures).



Working Conditions for Survey Technologists

Types of employment: Although most survey technicians work on a full-time and permanent basis, they typically work for organizations that are hired on a contractual basis to complete specific projects. Some employers of survey technicians, such as government departments however, typically do not operate on a contract basis.


Working conditions: Survey technicians mainly work outdoors, and because of this may be exposed to harsh weather conditions. Their job may involve a lot of walking, carrying equipment, and standing for long periods of time. Travel may be required of a survey technician, and they may have to stay at site overnight, or for days at a time.


Work Schedules: The work schedules of survey technicians can vary widely depending on the weather conditions. They may work longer hours during the summer months, as they are more suitable for fieldwork due to better weather and light, and less hours during the winter months when weather and natural lighting conditions are not appropriate for fieldwork.



Skills Needed to Become a Survey Technician

Employers typically prefer candidates for survey technologist jobs with the following skills:


• Resourcefulness

• Self-reliance

• Ability to demonstrate initiative

• Ability to work in teams

• Ability to take direction

• Be able to effectively plan and organize work

• Must be able to adapt to technological advancements

• Must have good spatial vision



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Careers Related to Survey Technician

Listed below are jobs that are similar in nature to Survey Technician, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


Geoscience Technician


Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Specialist

Geomatics Plan Technician

Remote Sensing Technician



Survey Technician Career Information: References

Please consult the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a Survey Technician.


Wages & Salaries in Alberta:Land survey technologists and technicians.” (n.d.). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved January 14, 2020.

Architecture & Engineering:Surveying and Mapping Technicians.” (September 4, 2019). Bureau of Labor Statistics - United States Government website. Retrieved January 14, 2020.



Scholarships for Becoming a Survey Technician

Scholarships listed for majors that apply to becoming a Survey Technician can be found on the following pages:


Environmental Engineering Scholarships

Environmental Science Scholarships

Geography Scholarships


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Becoming a Survey Technician: Applicable Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming a Survey Technician. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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