Several different types of workers are responsible for measuring and mapping the earth’s surface. Traditional land surveyors establish official land, air space, and water boundaries. They write descriptions of land for deeds, leases, and other legal documents; define airspace for airports; and measure construction and mineral sites. Other surveyors provide data relevant to the shape, contour, location, elevation, or dimension of land or land features. Cartographers compile geographic, political, and cultural information and prepare maps of large areas. Photogrammetrists measure and analyze aerial photographs that are subsequently used to prepare detailed maps and drawings. Surveying technicians assist land surveyors by operating survey instruments and collecting information in the field and by performing computations and computer-aided drafting in offices. Mapping technicians calculate mapmaking information from field notes. They also draw topographical maps and verify their accuracy.
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.
Employment of surveying and mapping technicians is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2012. The short training period needed to learn to operate the equipment, the current lack of any formal testing or licensing, the growing demand for people to do basic GIS-related data-entry work, and relatively lower wages all encourage demand for these technicians. However, many persons possess the basic skills needed to qualify for the jobs that are available, so competition for job openings may result.
Wages and Earnings Potential:
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