A mapping technician could...
|Take exact measurements of a landslide to help engineers assess damaged roads.||Convert paper maps to digital maps for more convenient searching and use.|
|Collect GPS (Global Positioning System) field data for use in making a mining operations map.||Create a map of a new subdivision using aerial photographs.|
Key Facts & Information
|Overview||Essential members of any construction team include mapping and surveying technicians—the "instrument people"—who set up and operate special equipment that measures distances, curves, elevations, and angles between points on Earth's surface. These technicians then take the data gathered by the instruments and create maps and charts on a computer. About half of their work is spent in hands-on, high-technology data collection in the field, while the other half is spent in an office—they get to experience both worlds and create documents that define, in great detail, places on Earth.|
|Key Requirements||Precise, detail-oriented, analytical, a team player, should be in good physical condition, as well as have an interest in both outdoor and computer work|
|Minimum Degree||Associate's degree|
|Subjects to Study in High School||Physics, algebra, geometry, algebra II, pre-calculus (trigonometry), English; if available, computer science, applied technology, physical education, drafting|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||Decline Slowly or Moderately (-3% to -9%)|
Education and Training
Most employers prefer to hire applicants with an associate's or bachelor's degree in surveying or engineering technology where they have received training in drafting, surveying, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), cartography, and computer science. New hires train with more experienced technicians.
Mapping technicians, also known as surveying technicians, should be able to visualize objects, distances, sizes, and abstract forms. They must work with precision and accuracy because mistakes can be costly.
Mapping technicians must be in good physical condition because they work outdoors and often carry equipment over difficult terrain. They need good eyesight, coordination, and hearing to communicate verbally and by using hand signals. Surveying is a cooperative operation, so good interpersonal skills and the ability to work as part of a team is important. Good computer skills also are essential because technicians must be able to prepare maps and charts from the data they collect.
Nature of the Work
Mapping technicians, who may also be known as surveying technicians, perform surveying and mapping duties, usually under the direction of a surveyor, cartographer, or photogrammetrist, to obtain data used for construction, map making, boundary location, mining, or other purposes. They may calculate map making information and create maps from source data, such as surveying notes, aerial photography, satellite data, or other maps, to show topographical features, political boundaries, and other features. They may also verify the accuracy and completeness of topographical maps.
Mapping technicians, also known as surveying technicians, usually work an 8-hour day, five days a week and may spend a lot of time outdoors. Sometimes, they work longer hours during the summer, when weather and light conditions are most suitable for fieldwork. Construction-related work may be limited during times of inclement weather.
Mapping technicians engage in active, sometimes strenuous, work. They often stand for long periods of time, walk considerable distances, and climb hills with heavy packs of instruments and other equipment. They also can be exposed to all types of weather. Traveling is sometimes part of the job, and surveying and mapping technicians may commute long distances, be away from home overnight, or temporarily relocate near a survey site. Mapping technicians also work indoors while analyzing data and when preparing reports and maps.
On the Job
- Check all layers of maps to ensure accuracy, identifying and marking errors and making corrections.
- Determine scales, line sizes, and colors to be used for hard copies of computerized maps, using plotters.
- Monitor mapping work and the updating of maps to ensure accuracy, the inclusion of new or changed information, and compliance with rules and regulations.
- Identify and compile database information to create maps in response to requests.
- Produce and update overlay maps to show information boundaries, water locations, and topographic features on various base maps and at different scales.
- Trace contours and topographic details to generate maps that denote specific land and property locations and geographic attributes.
- Lay out and match aerial photographs in sequences in which they were taken, and identify any areas missing from photographs.
- Compare topographical features and contour lines with images from aerial photographs, old maps, and other reference materials to verify the accuracy of their identification.
- Compute and measure scaled distances between reference points to establish relative positions of adjoining prints and enable the creation of photographic mosaics.
- Research resources such as survey maps and legal descriptions to verify property lines and to obtain information needed for mapping.
Companies That Hire Mapping Technicians
Explore what you might do on the job with one of these projects...
Do you have a specific question about a career as a Mapping Technician that isn't answered on this page? Post your question on the Science Buddies Ask an Expert Forum.
- National Society of Professional Surveyors: https://www.nsps.us.com/default.aspx
- ASPRS: Imaging and Geospatial Information Society: https://www.asprs.org/
- O*Net Online. (2016). National Center for O*Net Development. Retrieved July 1, 2017, from https://www.onetonline.org/
- Penn State Public Broadcasting. (2009, May 13). The Geospatial Revolution. Retrieved February 1, 2010, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZdQjc30YPOk
- ESRI, YouTube. (2018, August 27). Careers at ESRI. Retrieved March 21, 2019, from https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL03E210F45E673FD1
- ArcGIS, YouTube. (2016, April 22). ArcGIS Online Case Study: Emergency Management – Cal OES. Retrieved March 21, 2019, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqgncszNsEo
We'd like to acknowledge the additional support of:
Explore Our Science Videos
5 Science Experiments You Can Do With Peeps
DIY Glitter Surprise Package with a Simple Circuit
Make a Slushy! Yummy STEM Project