The work of surveyors and cartographers is changing because of advancements in technology, including not only the GPS, but also new earth resources data satellites, improved aerial photography, and geographic information systems (GIS)—computerized data banks of spatial data, along with the hardware, software, and staff needed to use them. These systems are capable of assembling, integrating, analyzing, and displaying data identified according to location. A GIS typically is used to handle maps which combine information that is useful for environmental studies, geology, engineering, planning, business marketing, and other disciplines. As more of these systems are developed, a new type of mapping scientist is emerging from the older specialties of photogrammetrist and cartographer: the geographic information specialist combines the functions of mapping science and surveying into a broader field concerned with the collection and analysis of geographic data.

Job Outlook and Growth Potential:

Overall employment of surveyors, cartographers, photogrammetrists, and surveying technicians is expected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations through the year 2012. The widespread availability and use of advanced technologies, such as GPS, GIS, and remote sensing, will continue to increase both the accuracy and productivity of these workers, resulting in modest overall growth in employment. However, job openings will continue to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or who leave the labor force altogether.

As technologies become more complex, opportunities will be best for surveyors, cartographers, and photogrammetrists who have at least a bachelor’s degree and strong technical skills. Increasing demand for geographic data, as opposed to traditional surveying services, will mean better opportunities for cartographers and photogrammetrists who are involved in the development and use of geographic and land information systems. New technologies, such as GPS and GIS, also may enhance employment opportunities for surveyors, as well as for those surveying technicians who have the educational background and who have acquired technical skills that enable them to work with the new systems. At the same time, upgraded licensing requirements will continue to limit opportunities for professional advancement for those without bachelor’s degrees.

Wages and Earnings Potential:

Median annual earnings of cartographers and photogrammetrists were $42,870 in 2002.

Median annual earnings of surveyors were $39,970 in 2002.


Median annual earnings of surveying and mapping technicians were $29,230 in 2002.

In 2003, land surveyors in nonsupervisory, supervisory, and managerial positions in the Federal Government earned an average salary of $62,980; cartographers, $67,989; geodetic technicians, $55,374; surveying technicians, $33,316; and cartographic technicians, $43,517

Copyright © 2014, Ohio's 2-Year Council of Deans and Directors of Engineering & Industrial Technologies

Career information from Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,
Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2004-05 Edition and member schools.