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Surveying Technicians
SOC Code: 17-3031.01

Adjust and operate surveying instruments, such as the theodolite and electronic distance-measuring equipment, and compile notes, make sketches and enter data into computers.

Sample of reported job titles: Chainman, Engineering Assistant, Engineering Technician, Instrument Man (I-Man), Instrument Operator, Instrument Person, Rodman, Survey Crew Chief, Survey Party Chief, Survey Technician


  • Search for section corners, property irons, and survey points.
  • Adjust and operate surveying instruments such as prisms, theodolites, and electronic distance-measuring equipment.
  • Conduct surveys to ascertain the locations of natural features and man-made structures on the Earth's surface, underground, and underwater, using electronic distance-measuring equipment and other surveying instruments.
  • Collect information needed to carry out new surveys, using source maps, previous survey data, photographs, computer records, and other relevant information.
  • Prepare topographic and contour maps of land surveyed, including site features and other relevant information, such as charts, drawings, and survey notes.
  • Position and hold the vertical rods, or targets, that theodolite operators use for sighting to measure angles, distances, and elevations.
  • Set out and recover stakes, marks, and other monumentation.
  • Record survey measurements and descriptive data, using notes, drawings, sketches, and inked tracings.
  • Compile information necessary to stake projects for construction, using engineering plans.
  • Operate and manage land-information computer systems, performing tasks such as storing data, making inquiries, and producing plots and reports.
  • Compare survey computations with applicable standards to determine adequacy of data.
  • Maintain equipment and vehicles used by surveying crews.
  • Lay out grids, and determine horizontal and vertical controls.
  • Direct and supervise work of subordinate members of surveying parties.
  • Run rods for benches and cross-section elevations.
  • Perform calculations to determine earth curvature corrections, atmospheric impacts on measurements, traverse closures and adjustments, azimuths, level runs, and placement of markers.
  • Provide assistance in the development of methods and procedures for conducting field surveys.
  • Place and hold measuring tapes when electronic distance-measuring equipment is not used.
  • Perform manual labor, such as cutting brush for lines, carrying stakes, rebar, and other heavy items, and stacking rods.

Technology Skills

  • Analytical or scientific software - Foresoft CDS Cogo; Modeling software; Tripod Data Systems; Triton Elics International Isis (see all 16 examples)
  • Computer aided design CAD software - Autodesk AutoCAD ; Bentley MicroStation ; Tripod Data Systems Foresight; TRS Software TomCADD (see all 13 examples)
  • Data base reporting software - MicroSurvey Star*Net
  • Data base user interface and query software - Database software; Microsoft Access ; Trimble TerraSync
  • Electronic mail software - Email software; Microsoft Exchange
  • Graphics or photo imaging software - Bentley GeoPak Bridge
  • Internet browser software - Web browser software
  • Map creation software - Desktop digital photogrammetry system DDPS; ESRI ArcGIS software ; ESRI ArcView; Muncy Plat Pronto (see all 12 examples)
  • Office suite software - Microsoft Office
  • Presentation software - Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Spreadsheet software - Microsoft Excel
  • Word processing software - Microsoft Word

Tools Used

  • All terrain vehicles tracked or wheeled - Four wheel drive 4WD vehicles
  • Axes
  • Barometers
  • Clinometers
  • Desktop computers
  • Digital cameras
  • Distance meters - Electronic distance measuring devices; Electrotapes; Measuring chains; Tellurometers
  • Extension pole - Prism poles
  • Extensometers
  • Geological compasses
  • Global positioning system GPS receiver - Community base station global positioning systems GPS; Global positioning system GPS receivers; Real-time kinematics RTK global positioning systems GPS
  • Hatchets
  • Instrument tripods - Tripods
  • Laser measuring systems - 3D laser scanning systems; Laser distance measuring equipment; Laser scanner coordinate capturing equipment
  • Laser printers
  • Level sensors or transmitters - Transit levels
  • Levels - Automatic optical pendulum leveling systems; Geodetic leveling rods; Leveling bubbles; Optical pendulum levels (see all 6 examples)
  • Machetes
  • Mallets
  • Measuring rods - Sight targets; Vertical/target rods
  • Measuring tables - Alidades; Plane tables
  • Measuring wheels for distance - Wheeled measuring devices
  • Metal detectors - Magnetic field pipe locators
  • Notebook computers
  • Personal computers
  • Plotter printers - Plotters
  • Plumb bobs
  • Pneumatic hammer - Jackhammers
  • Portable data input terminals - Handheld data collectors; Portable hydrographic surveying equipment; Robotic survey measuring instruments; Survey instrument control units (see all 5 examples)
  • Power saws - Chain saws
  • Prisms
  • Saws - Telescoping pole saws
  • Scales - Engineering scales
  • Scanners
  • Scientific calculator - Pre-programmed coordinate geometry COGO calculators; Programmable calculators
  • Seismic receivers - Ground vibration sensing equipment
  • Sonars - Echosounders; Fathometer sonar equipment; Multibeam sonar equipment; Side scan sonars
  • Tape measures - Measuring tapes
  • Templates
  • Theodolites - Total stations; Tribrach level bubble adjusting blocks; Tribrach optical plummet adjusting cylinders
  • Triangles
  • Two way radios


  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • Engineering and Technology - Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
  • Building and Construction - Knowledge of materials, methods, and the tools involved in the construction or repair of houses, buildings, or other structures such as highways and roads.
  • Geography - Knowledge of principles and methods for describing the features of land, sea, and air masses, including their physical characteristics, locations, interrelationships, and distribution of plant, animal, and human life.
  • Design - Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Law and Government - Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Public Safety and Security - Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.


  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Mathematics - Using mathematics to solve problems.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Operation Monitoring - Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Time Management - Managing one's own time and the time of others.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Complex Problem Solving - Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Coordination - Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Operation and Control - Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
  • Social Perceptiveness - Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.


  • Near Vision - The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Finger Dexterity - The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.
  • Mathematical Reasoning - The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
  • Problem Sensitivity - The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  • Far Vision - The ability to see details at a distance.
  • Control Precision - The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
  • Information Ordering - The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Speech Recognition - The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
  • Arm-Hand Steadiness - The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
  • Category Flexibility - The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
  • Flexibility of Closure - The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
  • Manual Dexterity - The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.
  • Number Facility - The ability to add, subtract, multiply, or divide quickly and correctly.
  • Perceptual Speed - The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.
  • Selective Attention - The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
  • Trunk Strength - The ability to use your abdominal and lower back muscles to support part of the body repeatedly or continuously over time without 'giving out' or fatiguing.
  • Visualization - The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.


  • Interest code: RC
    • Realistic - Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
    • Conventional - Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Work Context

  • Face-to-Face Discussions - 88% responded “Every day.”
  • Importance of Being Exact or Accurate - 78% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Outdoors, Exposed to Weather - 75% responded “Every day.”
  • Electronic Mail - 63% responded “Every day.”
  • Telephone - 50% responded “Every day.”
  • Freedom to Make Decisions - 71% responded “Some freedom.”
  • Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets - 50% responded “Every day.”
  • Frequency of Decision Making - 46% responded “Every day.”
  • Work With Work Group or Team - 43% responded “Very important.”
  • Contact With Others - 50% responded “Contact with others most of the time.”
  • Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls - 48% responded “More than half the time.”
  • Time Pressure - 54% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Spend Time Standing - 46% responded “More than half the time.”
  • Very Hot or Cold Temperatures - 46% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Structured versus Unstructured Work - 63% responded “Some freedom.”
  • Letters and Memos - 33% responded “Every day.”
  • Sounds, Noise Levels Are Distracting or Uncomfortable - 46% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Exposed to Hazardous Equipment - 48% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Importance of Repeating Same Tasks - 58% responded “Very important.”
  • Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results - 46% responded “Important results.”
  • In an Enclosed Vehicle or Equipment - 50% responded “Every day.”
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety - 38% responded “High responsibility.”
  • Spend Time Making Repetitive Motions - 27% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Indoors, Environmentally Controlled - 33% responded “Every day.”
  • Responsibility for Outcomes and Results - 46% responded “High responsibility.”
  • Duration of Typical Work Week - 79% responded “40 hours.”
  • Extremely Bright or Inadequate Lighting - 38% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Spend Time Walking and Running - 39% responded “About half the time.”
  • Coordinate or Lead Others - 50% responded “Important.”
  • Exposed to Minor Burns, Cuts, Bites, or Stings - 25% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Indoors, Not Environmentally Controlled - 33% responded “Every day.”
  • Consequence of Error - 42% responded “Very serious.”
  • Deal With External Customers - 38% responded “Important.”
  • Level of Competition - 46% responded “Moderately competitive.”
  • Physical Proximity - 54% responded “Slightly close (e.g., shared office).”


Percentage of RespondentsEducation Level Required
33%Associate's degree
25%High school diploma or equivalent
21%Post-secondary certificate

Work Styles

  • Attention to Detail - Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
  • Integrity - Job requires being honest and ethical.
  • Dependability - Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
  • Analytical Thinking - Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
  • Cooperation - Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
  • Adaptability/Flexibility - Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
  • Achievement/Effort - Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
  • Independence - Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
  • Initiative - Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
  • Persistence - Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
  • Self Control - Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
  • Stress Tolerance - Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
  • Leadership - Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
  • Concern for Others - Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.

Work Values

  • Support - Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
  • Relationships - Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
  • Independence - Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.

Wages & Trends

  • Median wages (2017)
    • $20.84 hourly, $43,340 annual
  • Employment (2016)
    • 60,000 employees
  • Projected growth (2016-2026)
    • Faster than average (10% to 14%)
  • Projected job openings (2016-2026)
    • 7,200

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