Surveying Technician  What They Do

Just the Facts


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

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


A person in this career:

  • Adjusts and operates surveying instruments such as prisms, theodolites, and electronic distance-measuring equipment.
  • Performs calculations to determine earth curvature corrections, atmospheric impacts on measurements, traverse closures and adjustments, azimuths, level runs, and placement of markers.
  • Records survey measurements and descriptive data using notes, drawings, sketches, and inked tracings.
  • Searches for section corners, property irons, and survey points.
  • Positions and holds the vertical rods, or targets, that theodolite operators use for sighting to measure angles, distances, and elevations.
  • Lays out grids, and determines horizontal and vertical controls.
  • Compares survey computations with applicable standards to determine adequacy of data.
  • Sets out and recovers stakes, marks, and other monumentation.
  • Directs and supervises work of subordinate members of surveying parties.
  • 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.

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
  • Exposure to pollutants, gases, dust, fumes, odors, poor ventilation, etc.
  • 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
  • Exposed to hazardous situations involving possible injury such as cuts, bites, stings, and minor burns 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 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:

  • Surveyor -- Researches and provides data about the location, elevation, shape, contour, or gravitation of land or land features on or near the earth's surface for engineering, mapmaking, mining, construction, and other purposes.