Surveying and Mapping Technician: Job Duties, Outlook and Salary
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.
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 2010-2020, at a rate of 16%. 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 2012, the BLS reported an average yearly salary of $42,680 for surveying and mapping technicians, with the top ten percent making $65,870 or higher and the bottom ten percent earning $24,180 or less. Engineering and architecture firms employed the greatest number of surveying and mapping technicians at that time. However, these two industries offered salaries lower than the national average, paying their technicians an average of $39,190 per year. The highest paying industries included natural gas distributors, metal ore miners and oil and gas extraction companies.
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