Career and Job Search Guide

Surveyors, Cartographers, Photogrammetrists and Surveying Technicians

Photogrammetrists, cartographers, and surveyors use various techniques to create maps. Surveyors measure land to determine water, air, and land boundaries. Additionally, they prepare reports detailing land for legal documents and deeds. Some create documents to provide specific details about land, such as elevation, shape descriptions, and specific geographic descriptions. Cartographers collect cultural, political, and geographic data to create maps of large geographic regions. Photogrammetrists review and conduct measurements from photos taken in the air to create maps with exquisite detail. Surveying and mapping technicians obtain data for map making professionals.

Surveyors determine exact angles and distances between surfaces and elevated points above and underneath the planet. To settle boundary disputes, surveyors review legal documents, collect evidence detailing prior boundary lines, and review collected data to verify boundaries. Moreover, surveyors prepare reports of their surveys, review data for accuracy, and mark off land for plots. Surveyors specializing in determining boundaries are required to receive a license in the state where they make these determinations. When boundary disputes are taken to court, surveyors often testify in these trials.

Cartographers utilize various methods to create accurate maps. They have many duties, including data collection and field research. Cartographers gather and review spatial data, longitude and latitude, for example, or nonspatial data, which can include population and other demographic information. Cartographic professionals develop maps detailing human or physical characteristics. To create maps, cartographers utilize aerial photos, information acquired from satellites, or surveys.

Photogrammetrists utilize aerial photos to create maps with comprehensive details. Often, aerial photos are taken of remote regions where surveys are very difficult to conduct. Map editors review aerial photos and collected data to ensure map accuracy. Certain states mandate that photogrammetrists acquire surveying licenses.

Certain surveyors have responsibilities similar to cartographers. Geodetic surveyors utilize satellite technology to calculate measurements used for map production. Geophysical prospecting surveyors locate and mark off land for oil exploration. Marine or hydrographic surveyors measure water depths and shorelines.

Working as a surveyor entails more than one would imagine. Surveyors now utilize satellite, GPS, and computer technology instead of relying on traditional devices such as chains and plumb lines. Mapping and surveying professionals also now use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to complete their work. GPS systems permit surveyors to precisely locate areas. To operate a GPS system, surveyors position an antenna to a specific spot and place another antenna in a known position. After the two antennas have been positioned, an exact position is determined. Cars can be outfitted with GPS systems to map roads. Since GPS technology has evolved and is relatively less expensive than previously, more surveyors and now using GPS technology.

A party chief and surveying technicians frequently accompany surveyors during surveying projects. The party chief, sometimes an experienced surveying technician or surveyor, manages daily operations. Surveying technicians work closely with party chiefs by preparing and handling surveying equipment. They also record data, compile records, and perform data entry duties. Sometimes these groups consist of other assistants who perform easier tasks like clearing debris from survey sites and transporting equipment.

Since GIS software is accurate and designed to integrate large quantities of data, mapping professionals heavily rely upon it to produce maps. GIS technology has made it possible to develop maps useful for professionals in numerous industries, including business, geology, environmental research, and land development. Because GIS technology is rapidly expanding and being utilized, individuals known as geographic information specialists are being educated and trained to work exclusively with this technology.