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Career and Education Opportunities for Surveying Technicians in Seattle, Washington

Surveying technicians can find both educational opportunities and jobs in the Seattle, Washington area. About 1,950 people are currently employed as surveying technicians in Washington. By 2016, this is expected to grow by 32% to 2,580 people employed. This is better than the national trend for surveying technicians, which sees this job pool growing by about 20.4% over the next eight years. In general, surveying technicians calculate mapmaking information from field notes, and draw and verify accuracy of topographical maps.

Income for surveying technicians is about $20 per hour or $42,680 per year on average in Washington. Nationally, their income is about $16 hourly or $35,120 per year. Incomes for surveying technicians are not quite as good as in the overall category of Surveying in Washington, and not quite as good as the overall Surveying category nationally. Surveying technicians work in a variety of jobs, including: topographical drafter, mapping technician, and land surveyor.

There are sixty-five schools of higher education in the Seattle area, including two within twenty-five miles of Seattle where you can get a degree to start your career as a surveying technician. The most common level of education for surveying technicians is an Associate's, or other 2-year degree. You can expect to spend about two years training to become 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 Seattle 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.
  • Civil Draftsman. Prepare drawings and topographical and relief maps used in civil engineering projects, such as highways, bridges, pipelines, flood control projects, and water and sewerage control 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

Renton Technical College - Renton, WA

Renton Technical College, 3000 NE Fourth St, Renton, WA 98056-4195. Renton Technical College is a small college located in Renton, Washington. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 4,708 students. Renton Technical College has a one to two year and an associate's degree program in Surveying Technology/Surveying which graduated nineteen and two students respectively in 2008.

Bates Technical College - Tacoma, WA

Bates Technical College, 1101 S Yakima Ave, Tacoma, WA 98405. Bates Technical College is a medium sized college located in Tacoma, Washington. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 2,807 students. Bates Technical College has an associate's degree program in Surveying Technology/Surveying which graduated three students in 2008.

CERTIFICATIONS

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: Seattle, Washington

Seattle, Washington
Seattle, Washington photo by Dschwen

Seattle is located in King County, Washington. It has a population of over 598,541, which has grown by 6.2% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Seattle, 126, is far greater than the national average. New single-family homes in Seattle are valued at $206,700 on average, which is well below the state average. In 2008, five hundred ninety-five new homes were built in Seattle, down from seven hundred seventy-five the previous year.

The three big industries for women in Seattle are health care, professional, scientific, and technical services, and educational services. For men, it is professional, scientific, and technical services, construction, and educational services. The average commute to work is about 25 minutes. More than 47.2% of Seattle residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 17.3%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Seattle is 7.8%, which is less than Washington's average of 8.7%.

The percentage of Seattle residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 37.3%, is less than the national average but more than the state average. The largest religious groups are the Catholic Church, the LDS (Mormon) Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Seattle is home to the Berth 5 and the Akli Point Lighthouse as well as Lincoln Park and Myrtle Edwards Park. Shopping centers in the area include Lake City Shopping Center, Westwood Village Shopping Center and Oak Tree Village Shopping Center. Visitors to Seattle can choose from A-1 Motel, Arlington Suites and Marriott Sea-Tac Airport for temporary stays in the area.