Survey Technician

Survey technicians operate survey instruments and computer equipment to measure distance, angles, elevations, and contours. They use this information to establish geographical locations and boundaries of natural features and other structures on Earth’s surface, underground and underwater. Survey techs work for construction companies, aerial photographers, natural resource firms, and the government.

At a Glance

Imagine flying low to the ground in an airplane on a beautiful, sunny day. You’re flying over the area where a new road will be built. The road is being built to give your community year-round access to this area. You see the rocks and creeks that the road will be built around. You reach for your camera and take pictures of geological formations and animal habitats. You’ll use these aerial photographs to plan the location of the new road. Next month, you’ll spend your time in the great outdoors, working on the ground, measuring the terrain, and placing stakes along the route of the new road.

As a survey technician, you measure the earth. You perform surveys to determine the exact locations of natural features and other structures on the earth’s surface—underground and underwater. You prepare drawings, charts, maps, plans, records, and documents that support the information collected. To aid in your plans, you also research information about specific pieces of land. You work in offices but mostly outdoors (either by yourself or as part of a team) in wetlands and forests and on mining, construction, and subdivision sites. You love that your job allows you so much time to be outside. Being a survey technician is a challenge which keeps you motivated and excited to go to work each day.

Job Duties

Duties vary from job to job, but the following list includes typical job duties one might encounter as a survey technician:

  • Confirm exact locations.
  • Collect and record geographic information (like location) with electronic tools like a GPS (Geographic Positioning System).
  • Mark boundaries and routes with stakes and rods.
  • Calculate angles to plot slope and other features.
  • Prepare drawings, charts, maps, plans, records, and documents.
  • Organize records, measurements, and other survey information.
  • Research existing information about various pieces of land.
  • Clear brush and debris from line of survey.
  • Transport surveying tools.


On average, survey technicians earn approximately $51,500 per year in Canada. Annual salaries in this occupation can range from $36,000 to $ 73,500 depending on the specific job type, location, and years of experience (Source: Payfactors).

Work Environment

Survey technicians work in a variety of locations, including, but not limited to:


In the field:

  • Explore the landscape and record geographical information
  • Mark land boundaries with geographical tools and measuring devices
  • Participate in field surveys and operate survey equipment
  • Analyze latitude, longitude and angles, and use trigonometric and other calculations to plot features, contours and areas to a specific scale

In the office:

  • Prepare documents, drawings, and geographical maps
  • Research existing land information
  • Keep records, measurements and other survey information in an organized manner
  • Help in the calculation, analysis and computation of measurements obtained during field surveys
  • Help in the preparation of detailed drawings, charts and plans

Where to Work

  • Federal, provincial, or municipal government departments
  • Construction companies
  • Aerial photographers
  • Natural resource firms
  • Self-employed consultant
  • Architectural and engineering firms
  • Private sector surveying establishments

Search for jobs on the ECO Canada Job Board.

Education and Skills


If you are a high school student considering a career as a survey technician, you should have a strong interest in:

  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • English/French

Completion of a one- to two-year college program in geomatics or land survey technology is usually required for land survey technicians.

Some employers may require certification by provincial associations of technicians and technologists.

Our Environmental Professional (EP) designation can also help you progress in your chosen environmental career.


Technical Skills

  • Monitoring
  • Coordination
  • Geomatics
  • Survey technology
  • Equipment and tool selection
  • Evaluation
  • Operation monitoring of machinery and equipment
  • Quality control testing

Personal and Professional Skills

  • Attention to detail
  • Adaptability
  • Analytical thinking
  • Reading comprehension
  • Judgment and decision-making
  • Complex problem solving

Environmental employers seek professionals who combine technical knowledge with personal and professional skills. Watch our free webinar “Essential Not Optional: Skills Needed to Succeed in Canada’s Environmental Industry” or take our Essential Skills courses.

Role Models

Your Impact

While the primary focus of a survey technician is to collect, analyze, and interpret geographic data, their work can contribute to environmental conservation and sustainable development in multiple ways.

They play a crucial role in land management and planning by conducting surveys to identify and map land boundaries, geography, and natural features. This information is vital for sustainable land use, urban planning, and resource management. By providing accurate data, survey technicians help ensure that development projects are designed to minimize environmental impact and preserve sensitive ecosystems.

Survey technicians also support conservation efforts by surveying protected areas, national parks, and wildlife reserves. They assist in monitoring and mapping biodiversity, habitat conditions, and ecosystem health. This information aids conservationists and land managers in making informed decisions to protect and restore ecosystems and sustainably manage natural resources.

Occupational Classification

Survey technicians are classified in the following occupational groupings:

NOC Code: 22213 – Land survey technologists and technicians

What is a NOC Code?

The National Occupation Classification (NOC) provides a standardized language for describing the work performed by Canadians in the labour market. It gives statisticians, labour market analysts, career counsellors, employers, and individual job seekers a consistent way to collect data and describe and understand the nature of work within different occupations.

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