Surveying Technician  What They Do

Just the Facts


Adjusts and operates surveying instruments, such as the theodolite and electronic distance-measuring equipment, and compiles notes, makes sketches and enters data into computers.

This career is part of the Architecture and Construction cluster Design/Pre-Construction pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Searches for section corners, property irons, and survey points.
  • Adjusts and operates surveying instruments such as prisms, theodolites, and electronic distance-measuring equipment.
  • Conducts 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.
  • Collects information needed to carry out new surveys, using source maps, previous survey data, photographs, computer records, and other relevant information.
  • Prepares topographic and contour maps of land surveyed, including site features and other relevant information, such as charts, drawings, and survey notes.
  • Positions and holds the vertical rods, or targets, that theodolite operators use for sighting to measure angles, distances, and elevations.
  • Sets out and recovers stakes, marks, and other monumentation.
  • Records survey measurements and descriptive data, using notes, drawings, sketches, and inked tracings.
  • Compiles information necessary to stake projects for construction, using engineering plans.
  • Operates and manages land-information computer systems, performing tasks such as storing data, making inquiries, and producing plots and reports.

Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 10 lbs., sometimes up to 20 lbs. You might do a lot of walking or standing, or you might sit but use your arms and legs to control machines, equipment or tools.
  • Work in this occupation involves use of protective items such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hearing protection, a hard hat, or personal flotation devices
  • Lighting is either extremely bright or inadequate
  • Conditions are very hot (above 90 F) or very cold (under 32 F)
  • Work in this occupation involves using your hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Exposed to hazardous equipment such as saws, machinery, or vehicular traffic more than once a month
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Sound and noise levels are loud and distracting
  • Work in this occupation requires being outside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves making repetitive motions more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves standing more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves walking or running more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Seeing clearly at a distance
  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person
  • Using abdominal and lower back muscles repeatedly or over time without tiring

Work Hours and Travel

  • Overnight travel

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Chainman --
  • Engineering Assistant --
  • Engineering Technician -- Solves technical application oriented problems, for example the technician makes sure things, such as circuits or transportation systems, work.
  • Instrument Man (I-Man) --
  • Instrument Operator --
  • Instrument Person --
  • Rodman --
  • Survey Crew Chief --
  • Survey Party Chief --
  • Survey Technician --