Survey Technician Job Description
Survey technicians perform land surveys to locate structures, property boundaries, and all natural and man-made features located on specific parcels of land. Surveying companies, construction companies, and realtors hire survey technicians to work full-time hours in flexible shifts, usually during daytime weekday hours. Survey technicians generally work independently, reporting directly to the survey crew supervisor. Survey technicians work in the field and travel to various sites to conduct their work, carrying out tasks in all seasons and weather conditions. They may be required to travel overnight to get to locations.
Survey Technician Duties and Responsibilities
Day-to-day duties for survey technicians vary depending on the location and size of the properties they survey and the geographical and man-made features found on-site. However, these core tasks are commonly associated with this job:
Prepare Land for Surveying
Survey technicians physically prepare land for surveying by clearing away debris and brush as needed. They also load and unload survey equipment from vehicles and place stakes and other land markers at survey points.
Survey technicians take pictures of land features.
Survey technicians measure distances between specific survey points and record this data so it can be entered into surveying software programs.
Maintain Equipment and Vehicles
Survey technicians clean and maintain equipment to ensure it remains in good working order. This includes replacing parts, tools, and equipment as necessary. They also keep their personal vehicle in good working order and well supplied with gas and/or electricity.
Survey technicians download digital images and data from 3D scanners into surveying software programs.
Write Survey Reports
Survey technicians write detailed reports using information gathered from land surveys.
Survey Technician Skills and Qualifications
Survey technicians physically travel to parcels of land to take measurements, locate land features, and make records of data gathered at these sites. Employers look for survey technicians who possess the following key skills:
- Physical fitness – survey technicians lift and carry equipment, drive stakes into the ground, and walk for long periods of time, all of which requires physical fitness
- Mathematics – survey technicians use math to record land measurements and make calculations as necessary to complete accurate surveys
- Attention to detail – survey technicians record specific land details and make precise measurements, which requires good attention to detail
- Communication skills – because survey technicians write detailed survey reports, good written communication skills are essential for this job
- Computer skills – survey technicians use surveying software to download land information from surveyed sites, which requires computer skills
- Mechanical skills – survey technicians use mechanical abilities to work with various tools and equipment
Tools of the Trade
Survey technicians regularly work with the following tools and equipment:
- Hand tools (hammers, mallets)
- Surveying tools (stakes, flags, land markers)
- Photography tools (cameras, smartphones)
- Measuring tools (measuring tapes, measuring ropes)
- Scanning tools (3D scanners, magnetic locators)
Survey Technician Education and Training
A high school diploma or GED is required by most employers looking to hire a survey technician. Because survey technicians travel to various sites to perform surveys, a valid driver’s license and reliable transportation are also required for this job.
As this is an entry-level job, paid training is provided. This training period varies by employer but is typically brief and generally lasts no longer than one or two weeks. During training, survey technicians work closely with the survey crew supervisor to learn their daily duties and master the tools and equipment used to carry out surveying tasks.
Survey Technician Salary and Outlook
Surveying and mapping technicians earn $43,340 in annual median salary, or $20.84 per hour. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates, these jobs will increase 11 percent through 2026, a rate that’s faster than the national average.
A majority of employers provide survey technicians with medical insurance coverage, paid vacation days, and holiday pay. Because travel is a big component of the job, gas and car maintenance reimbursement is also provided by most employers.
Use the following resources to find surveying jobs, search educational materials, and learn various job techniques and strategies associated with this career:
National Society of Professional Surveyors – search for surveying jobs, find online learning courses, learn more about certification programs, and read content at the NSPS website
Land Surveying Simplified – this book takes a simple approach to the basics of surveying land by offering tips and advice for boundary surveying
The American Association for Geodetic Surveying – look for news updates, find jobs, and watch educational videos at this website for surveying professionals
Surveying Fundamentals and Practices – use this book to learn more about surveying technology and get a strong understanding of the fundamentals of surveying. The text also provides information on the math and measurements that are commonly used to perform detailed, accurate surveys
American Association of Geographers – look for jobs, find education programs, read publications, and search for upcoming events at the AAG website
Practical Surveying for Technicians – this book serves as a manual for surveyors by providing straightforward, simple techniques and tips
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