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Become A Cartographic Technician

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Working As A Cartographic Technician

  • $87,835

    Average Salary

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.

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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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Cartographic Technician Demographics

Gender

Male

63.8%

Female

32.1%

Unknown

4.1%
Ethnicity

White

68.3%

Hispanic or Latino

11.7%

Black or African American

9.6%

Asian

6.8%

Unknown

3.7%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

50.0%

French

20.0%

German

10.0%

Arabic

10.0%

Dutch

10.0%
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Cartographic Technician Education

Schools

Northern Arizona University

7.5%

University of Montana

7.5%

Humboldt State University

7.5%

Northwest Missouri State University

5.7%

State University of New York Albany

5.7%

University of Wisconsin Extension

5.7%

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

5.7%

Oklahoma State University

5.7%

Indiana University Southeast

5.7%

University of New Mexico

5.7%

Central Washington University

3.8%

University of Texas at Arlington

3.8%

University of Connecticut

3.8%

University of Florida

3.8%

University of Wisconsin - La Crosse

3.8%

University of Maryland - University College

3.8%

University of Northern Iowa

3.8%

Ohio State University

3.8%

Towson University

3.8%

Montana State University - Bozeman

3.8%
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Majors

Geography

42.5%

Environmental Science

7.5%

Business

6.7%

Geology

6.0%

Natural Resources Management

4.5%

Civil Engineering

4.5%

Forestry

3.0%

Computer Science

3.0%

Management

2.2%

Drafting And Design

2.2%

Anthropology

2.2%

Human Resources Management

2.2%

Computer Applications

2.2%

Accounting

2.2%

English

1.5%

Computer Information Systems

1.5%

Political Science

1.5%

Biology

1.5%

Fine Arts

1.5%

Interior Design

1.5%
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Degrees

Bachelors

43.3%

Masters

23.3%

Associate

11.1%

Other

11.1%

Certificate

7.8%

Diploma

1.7%

Doctorate

1.7%
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Top Skills for A Cartographic Technician

  1. GIS User
  2. Data Management
  3. GPS
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Established a GIS User Group to try to help Miles City Field Office with the vast growing knowledge of GIS.
  • Collected GPS field data and post-processed for sub-meter accuracy.
  • Created a model using ESRI Model Builder for a researcher to automate mapping cultural social networks over time.
  • Assisted contractors by using CAD systems to digitize intermediate contours on flat terrain models and helped to otherwise troubleshoot problem models.
  • Supervised student interns in field data collection and cartographic principles.

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Top Cartographic Technician Employers

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