Surveying is a technique used by cartographers and land surveyors to measure directions, angles and horizontal distances on the earth's surface. Survey technicians help these professionals to collect this data. They set up and operate various surveying equipment and record survey measurements. The top employers of surveying technicians include providers of architectural and engineering services, local authorities, oil and gas extraction, and power plants
Using the Skills
The work of survey technicians largely involves handling surveying equipment such as automatic levels and measuring wheels. As such, they require good eye-hand coordination and technical skills to operate them effectively. If the equipment malfunctions, they use trouble-shooting skills to identify and correct the problem. When taking measurements, they need to be able to concentrate for long periods of time. Survey technicians also use math and writing skills to make precise calculations of land measurements and record the results accurately.
The main responsibility of a survey technician is to collect survey measurements and other relevant data. For example, when a road construction firm wants to build a new road to connect a rural area with a nearby town, the firm sends land survey technicians to measure the length of the proposed road, establish boundaries and set out markers or reference points that will guide the construction. The technicians record the data in a computer system, and produce sketches or drawings of the road.
Survey technicians in senior positions have administrative roles, too. They develop work schedules and allocate tasks to junior technicians. When surveying the new road, for instance, the senior technician establishes survey points and sends a team of junior technicians to each. At the end of the activity, he compiles the data gathered by the various teams and presents it to surveyors. If the surveying equipment develops complex problems, the senior technicians may contact specialist repairers to get it up and running.
Employers of survey technicians often hire individuals with a high school diploma and train them on the job. However, those with an associate degree in survey technology have the strongest prospects of finding employment. Ambitious survey technicians can pursue the National Society of Professional Surveyors’ Certified Survey Technician certification to enhance their competence and career progression opportunities. They can also earn a bachelor’s degree in land surveying, or surveying and mapping, to become surveyors. Others can move into cartography or photogrammetry by completing degrees in cartography or geomatics.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics: Surveying and Mapping Technicians
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Surveying and Mapping Technicians
- O*Net Online: Summary Report for Surveying Technicians
- National Society of Professional Surveyors: Enhance Your Career Opportunities
- Photo Credit CandyBoxImages/iStock/Getty Images
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