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Career and Education Opportunities for Surveying Technicians in Charleston, South Carolina

There is a wide variety of career and education opportunities for surveying technicians in the Charleston, South Carolina area. About 1,420 people are currently employed as surveying technicians in South Carolina. By 2016, this is expected to grow 22% to 1,730 people employed. This is better than the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for surveying technicians are expected to grow by about 20.4%. Surveying technicians generally calculate mapmaking information from field notes, and draw and verify accuracy of topographical maps.

A person working as a surveying technician can expect to earn about $16 hourly or $33,330 annually on average in South Carolina and about $16 hourly or $35,120 annually on average in the U.S. as a whole. Compared with people working in the overall category of Surveying, people working as surveying technicians in South Carolina earn less. They earn less than people working in the overall category of Surveying nationally. Jobs in this field include: photogrammetric compilation specialist, hydrographic surveyor, and cartographic drafter.

There are fourteen schools of higher education in the Charleston area, including one within twenty-five miles of Charleston where you can get a degree to start your career as a surveying technician. Given that the most common education level for surveying technicians is an Associate's, or other 2-year degree, you can expect to spend about two years studying to be a surveying technician if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Surveying Technician

In general, surveying technicians calculate mapmaking information from field notes, and draw and verify accuracy of topographical maps.

Surveying technicians trace contours and topographic details to generate maps that denote specific land and property locations and geographic attributes. They also produce and update overlay maps to show data boundaries and topographic features on various base maps and at different scales. Finally, surveying technicians compare topographical features and contour lines with images from aerial photographs and other reference materials to confirm the precision of their identification.

Every day, surveying technicians are expected to be able to see details at a very fine level of focus. They need to prioritize information for further consideration.

It is important for surveying technicians to monitor mapping work and the updating of maps to insure accuracy, the inclusion of new or changed data, and adherence to rules and regulations. They are often called upon to identify and compile database data to generate maps in response to requests. They also check all layers of maps to insure accuracy, identifying and marking errors and making corrections. They are sometimes expected to decide on scales and colors to be used for hard copies of computerized maps, using plotters. Somewhat less frequently, surveying technicians are also expected to redraw and correct maps.

They also have to be able to form three-dimensional images of aerial photographs taken from different locations, using mathematical techniques and plotting instruments and identify and resolve anomalies in legal land descriptions, referring issues to title and survey experts as appropriate. And finally, they sometimes have to supervise and direct efforts of staff working on plotting data or producing blueprints, photostats, and photographs.

Like many other jobs, surveying technicians must be thorough and dependable and be reliable.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Charleston include:

  • Cartographer. Collect, analyze, and interpret geographic information provided by geodetic surveys, aerial photographs, and satellite data. Research, study, and prepare maps and other spatial data in digital or graphic form for legal, social, and design purposes. May work with Geographic Information Systems (GIS). May design and evaluate algorithms, data structures, and user interfaces for GIS and mapping systems.
  • Survey Technician. Adjust and operate surveying instruments, such as the theodolite and electronic distance-measuring equipment, and compile notes, make sketches and enter data into computers.
  • Surveyor. Make exact measurements and determine property boundaries. Provide data relevant to the shape, contour, or dimension of land or land features on or near the earth's surface for engineering, mapmaking, and other purposes.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Surveying Technician Training

Trident Technical College - Charleston, SC

Trident Technical College, 7000 Rivers Avenue, Charleston, SC 29423-8067. Trident Technical College is a large college located in Charleston, South Carolina. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 12,758 students. Trident Technical College has a less than one year program in Surveying Technology/Surveying which graduated three students in 2008.


ACSM Hydrographer Certification: ACSM - THSOA Hydrographer Certification is well-recognized and considered by many Federal, State and local agencies as well as private firms, seeking subcontractors when evaluating technical proposals for marine engineering, surveying, and construction.

For more information, see the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping - National Society of Professional Surveyors website.

Certified Survey Technician: This four-level certification program for surveying technicians throughout the United States indicates official recognition by NSPS-ACSM that a person has demonstrated that he or she is minimally competent to perform surveying tasks at a specified technical level.

For more information, see the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping - National Society of Professional Surveyors website.

Certified Photogrammetric Techonologist: This certification is designed for technicians who perform or supervises technical photogrammetric tasks to extract spatial data from photographic or digital imagery and other remotely-sensed data.

For more information, see the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing - Imaging & Geospatial Information Society website.

Certified GIS/LIS Technologist: This is certification is for technicians who integrate a variety of spatial data sets into a GIS format designed for graphic output or analysis.

For more information, see the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing - Imaging & Geospatial Information Society website.

Highway Surveys: This certification program is for engineering technicians involved in field and/or office aspects of highway surveying.

For more information, see the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies website.

LOCATION INFORMATION: Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina photo by AudeVivere

Charleston is situated in Charleston County, South Carolina. It has a population of over 111,978, which has grown by 15.9% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Charleston, 94, is below the national average. New single-family homes in Charleston cost $157,600 on average, which is below the state average. In 2008, five hundred eight new homes were built in Charleston, down from eight hundred seventy-eight the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Charleston are health care, educational services, and accommodation and food services. For men, it is accommodation and food services, construction, and professional, scientific, and technical services. The average commute to work is about 20 minutes. More than 37.5% of Charleston residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 13.9%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Charleston is 10.5%, which is less than South Carolina's average of 12.0%.

The percentage of Charleston residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 42.7%, is less than both the national and state average. Plymouth Congregational Church, Lutheran Church of the Redeemer and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church are among the churches located in Charleston. The largest religious groups are the Southern Baptist Convention, the Catholic Church and the United Methodist Church.

Charleston is home to the United State Department of Agriculture and the The Center as well as Harmon Field and Stoney Field. Shopping malls in the area include Church Creek Plaza Shopping Center, Citadel Mall Shopping Center and South Windermere Shopping Center. Visitors to Charleston can choose from French Quarter Inn, Fulton Lane Inn and Budget Inn for temporary stays in the area.