Survey Technician

Survey technicians operate survey instruments and computer equipment to measure distance, angles, elevations, and contours. They use this information to establish geographical locations and boundaries. For example, a survey technician might survey and lay out sub-divisions for rural development. Survey techs work for construction companies, aerial photographers, natural resource firms, and the government. Some survey technicians are self-employed.

At a Glance

Imagine flying low to the ground in an airplane on a beautiful, sunny day. You’re flying over the area where a new road will be built. The road is being built to give your community year-round access to this area. You see the rocks and creeks that the road will be built around. You reach for your camera and take pictures of geological formations and animal habitats. You’ll use these aerial photographs to plan the location of the new road. Next month you’ll spend your time in the great outdoors, working on the ground, measuring the terrain, and placing stakes along the route of the new road.

As a survey technician, you measure the earth. You perform surveys to determine the exact locations of natural features and other structures on the earth’s surface—underground and underwater. You prepare drawings, charts, maps, plans, records, and documents that support the information collected. To aid in your plans, you also research information about specific pieces of land. You work in offices but mostly outdoors (either by yourself or as part of a team) in wetlands and forests and on mining, construction, and subdivision sites. You love that your job allows you so much time to be outside. Being a survey technician is a challenge, and that’s what keeps you motivated and excited to go to work each day.

Job Duties

Duties vary significantly from job to job, but the following list includes typical job duties one might encounter as a survey technician:

  • Confirm exact locations.
  • Collect and record geographic information (like location) with electronic tools like a GPS (Geographic Positioning System).
  • Mark boundaries and routes with stakes and rods.
  • Calculate angles to plot slope and other features.
  • Prepare drawings, charts, maps, plans, records, and documents.
  • Organize records, measurements, and other survey information.
  • Research existing information about various pieces of land.
  • Clear brush and debris from line of survey.
  • Transport surveying tools.

Work Environment

Survey technicians work in a variety of locations, including, but not limited to:

In the field:

  • Explore the landscape and record geographical information
  • Mark land boundaries with geographical tools and measuring devices

In the office:

  • Prepare documents, drawings, and geographical maps
  • Research existing land information

Where to Work

  • Federal, provincial, or municipal government departments
  • Construction companies
  • Aerial photographers
  • Natural resource firms
  • Self-employed consultant

Education and Skills

In most cases, the minimum educational requirement to work as a survey technician is a college technical diploma. Advanced studies in geomatics or survey technology will allow you to become a survey technologist or Canada land surveyor. The following post-secondary programs are most applicable for a career in this field:

  • Geomatics
  • Survey technology

It is not mandatory to become certified in order to work as a survey technician. If you are a high school student considering a career as a survey technician you should have a strong interest in:

  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • English/French

Education and Skills

Your Impact

Occupational Classification

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