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Working as a Cartographic Technician

What Does a Cartographic Technician Do

Surveying and mapping technicians collect data and make maps of the Earth’s surface. Surveying technicians visit sites to take measurements of the land. Mapping technicians use geographic data to create maps. They both assist surveyors, cartographers, and photogrammetrists.

Duties

Surveying technicians typically do the following:

  • Visit sites to record survey measurements and other descriptive data
  • Operate surveying instruments, such as electronic distance-measuring equipment (robotic total stations), to collect data on a location
  • Set out stakes and marks to conduct a survey
  • Search for previous survey points, such as old stone markers
  • Enter the data from surveying instruments into computers, either in the field or in an office

Surveying technicians help surveyors in the field on teams known as survey parties. A typical survey party has a party chief and one or more surveying technicians. The party chief, either a surveyor or a senior surveying technician, leads day-to-day work activities. After data is collected by the survey party, surveying technicians help to process the data by entering the data into computers.

Mapping technicians typically do the following:

  • Select needed information from databases to create maps
  • Edit and process images that have been collected in the field
  • Produce maps showing boundaries, water locations, elevation, and other features of the terrain
  • Update maps to ensure accuracy
  • Assist photogrammetrists by laying out aerial photographs in sequence to identify areas not captured by aerial photography

Mapping technicians help cartographers and photogrammetrists produce and upgrade maps. They do this work on computers, combining data from different sources.

Geographic Information System (GIS) technicians use GIS technology to assemble, integrate, and display data about a particular location in a digital format. They also use GIS technology to compile information from a variety of sources. GIS technicians also maintain and update databases for GIS devices.

How To Become a Cartographic Technician

Surveying technicians usually need a high school diploma. However, mapping technicians often need formal education after high school to study technology applications, such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

Education

Surveying technicians generally need a high school diploma, but some have postsecondary training in survey technology. Postsecondary training is more common among mapping technicians where an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, such as geomatics, is beneficial.

High school students interested in working as a surveying or mapping technician should take courses in algebra, geometry, trigonometry, drafting, mechanical drawing, and computer science. Knowledge of these subjects will help in finding a job and in advancing.

Training

Surveying technicians learn their job duties under the supervision of a surveyor or a surveying party chief. Initially, surveying technicians handle simple tasks, such as placing markers on land and entering data into computers. With experience, they help to decide where and how to measure the land.

Mapping technicians receive on-the-job training under the supervision of a lead mapper. During training, technicians learn how maps are created and stored in databases.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

The growing need to make sure that data are useful to other professionals has caused certification to become more common. The American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) offers certification for photogrammetric technologists, remote-sensing technologists, and Geographic Information System/Land Information System (GIS/LIS) technologists. The National Society of Professional Surveyors offers the Certified Survey Technician credential.

Advancement

With many years of experience and formal training in surveying, surveying technicians may advance to senior survey technician, then to party chief. Depending on state licensing requirements, they may be able to become licensed surveyors.

Important Qualities

Concentration. Surveying and mapping technicians must be precise and accurate in their work. Their results are often entered into legal records.

Decisionmaking skills. Surveying technicians must be able to exercise some independent judgment in the field because they may not always be able to communicate with team members.

Listening skills. Surveying technicians work outdoors and must communicate with party chiefs and other team members across distances. Following spoken instructions from the party chief is crucial for saving time and preventing errors.

Physical stamina. Surveying technicians usually work outdoors, often in rugged terrain. Physical fitness is necessary to carry equipment and to stand most of the day.

Problem-solving skills. Surveying and mapping technicians must be able to identify and fix problems with their equipment. They also must note potential problems with the day’s work plan.

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Average Salary$52,730
Job Growth Rate5%

Cartographic Technician Jobs

Cartographic Technician Career Paths

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Average Salary for a Cartographic Technician

Cartographic Technicians in America make an average salary of $52,730 per year or $25 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $72,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $38,000 per year.
Average Salary
$52,730

Best Paying Cities

0

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyCompanyStart DateSalary
Cartographic Technician
Cartographic Technician
Bureau of Land Management
Bureau of Land Management
11/25/2019
11/25/2019
$41,36511/25/2019
$41,365
Cartographic Technician
Cartographic Technician
Army Installation Management Command
Army Installation Management Command
11/25/2019
11/25/2019
$62,23611/25/2019
$62,236
Cartographic Technician
Cartographic Technician
National Park Service
National Park Service
11/25/2019
11/25/2019
$42,05311/25/2019
$42,053
Cartographic Technician
Cartographic Technician
Bureau of Land Management
Bureau of Land Management
11/02/2019
11/02/2019
$33,94911/02/2019
$33,949
Cartographic Technician
Cartographic Technician
U.S. Census Bureau
U.S. Census Bureau
10/23/2019
10/23/2019
$33,94910/23/2019
$33,949

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Cartographic Technician Demographics

Gender

male

63.6 %

female

32.2 %

unknown

4.1 %

Ethnicity

White

68.6 %

Hispanic or Latino

13.8 %

Black or African American

8.1 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

46.2 %

French

23.1 %

German

7.7 %
See More Demographics

Cartographic Technician Education

Majors

Geography
38.6 %
Geology
8.0 %

Degrees

Bachelors

59.4 %

Associate

12.9 %

Masters

11.9 %

Top Colleges for Cartographic Technicians

1. University of Florida

Gainesville, FL

In-State Tuition
$6,381
Enrollment
34,564

2. Ohio State University

Columbus, OH

In-State Tuition
$10,726
Enrollment
45,769

3. Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA

In-State Tuition
$18,454
Enrollment
40,108

4. California State University - Fresno

Fresno, CA

In-State Tuition
$6,587
Enrollment
21,732

5. Metropolitan State University of Denver

Denver, CO

In-State Tuition
$7,666
Enrollment
18,809

6. Ferris State University

Big Rapids, MI

In-State Tuition
$11,788
Enrollment
11,008

7. Saint Cloud State University

Saint Cloud, MN

In-State Tuition
$8,265
Enrollment
8,983

8. New Mexico State University

Las Cruces, NM

In-State Tuition
$6,686
Enrollment
11,139

9. University of Akron

Akron, OH

In-State Tuition
$11,463
Enrollment
13,676

10. University of Wyoming

Laramie, WY

In-State Tuition
$5,400
Enrollment
9,854
See More Education Info

Entry Level Jobs For Becoming A Cartographic Technician

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Top Skills For a Cartographic Technician

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 10.7% of cartographic technicians listed arc-map gis on their resume, but soft skills such as analytical skills and math skills are important as well.

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Top Cartographic Technician Employers

1. United States Department of Agriculture
4.4
Avg. Salary: 
$33,158
Cartographic Technicians Hired: 
29+
2. United States Army
4.0
Avg. Salary: 
$51,026
Cartographic Technicians Hired: 
18+
3. United States Census Bureau
4.4
Avg. Salary: 
$40,319
Cartographic Technicians Hired: 
15+
4. National Park Service
4.7
Avg. Salary: 
$41,913
Cartographic Technicians Hired: 
14+
5. Garmin
4.7
Avg. Salary: 
$87,195
Cartographic Technicians Hired: 
5+
6. Oklahoma State University
4.3
Avg. Salary: 
$39,719
Cartographic Technicians Hired: 
4+

Recently Added Cartographic Technician Jobs

Updated October 2, 2020