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Career and Education Opportunities for Survey Technicians in Madison, Wisconsin

For those living in the Madison, Wisconsin area, there are many career and education opportunities for survey technicians. There are currently 1,010 jobs for survey technicians in Wisconsin and this is projected to grow 8% to about 1,090 jobs by 2016. This is not quite as good as the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for survey technicians are expected to grow by about 20.4%. Survey technicians generally adjust and operate surveying instruments, such as the theodolite and electronic distance-measuring equipment, and compile notes, make sketches and enter data into computers.

Survey technicians earn about $18 per hour or $38,350 per year on average in Wisconsin and about $16 hourly or $35,120 yearly on average nationally. Compared with people working in the overall category of Surveying, people working as survey technicians in Wisconsin earn less. They earn less than people working in the overall category of Surveying nationally. Survey technicians work in a variety of jobs, including: river and harbor soundings group leader, compass operator, and survey rodman.

There are thirteen schools of higher education in the Madison area, including one within twenty-five miles of Madison where you can get a degree to start your career as a survey technician. Given that the most common education level for survey technicians is a high school diploma or GED, you can expect to spend only a short time training to become a survey technician if you already have a high school diploma.


Survey Technician video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, survey technicians adjust and operate surveying instruments, such as the theodolite and electronic distance-measuring equipment, and compile notes, make sketches and enter data into computers.

Survey technicians adjust and operate surveying instruments such as prisms and electronic distance-measuring equipment. They also maintain equipment and vehicles used by surveying crews. Equally important, survey technicians have to perform manual labor, such as cutting brush for lines and other heavy items, and stacking rods. They are often called upon to collect data needed to carry out new surveys using source maps, previous survey data and other relevant data. They are expected to place and hold measuring tapes when electronic distance-measuring equipment is not used. Finally, survey technicians operate and oversee land-information computer systems, performing tasks such as storing data and producing plots and reports.

Every day, survey technicians are expected to be able to listen to and understand others in meetings. They need to see details at a very fine level of focus. It is also important that they articulate ideas and problems.

It is important for survey technicians to position and hold the vertical rods, or targets, that theodolite operators use for sighting to measure angles and elevations. They are often called upon to direct and supervise work of subordinate members of surveying parties. They also conduct surveys to ascertain the locations of natural features and man-made structures on the Earth's surface and underwater using electronic distance-measuring equipment and other surveying instruments. Somewhat less frequently, survey technicians are also expected to run rods for benches and cross-section elevations.

and perform calculations to establish earth curvature corrections, atmospheric impacts on measurements, traverse closures and adjustments and placement of markers. And finally, they sometimes have to compare survey computations with applicable standards to establish adequacy of data.

Like many other jobs, survey technicians must be thorough and dependable and have exceptional integrity.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Madison 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.
  • Equipment Engineering Technician. Apply electrical theory and related knowledge to test and modify developmental or operational electrical machinery and electrical control equipment and circuitry in industrial or commercial plants and laboratories. Usually work under direction of engineering staff.
  • Surveying Technician. Calculate mapmaking information from field notes, and draw and verify accuracy of topographical maps.


University of Wisconsin-Madison - Madison, WI

University of Wisconsin-Madison, 500 Lincoln Dr, Madison, WI 53706-1380. University of Wisconsin-Madison is a large university located in Madison, Wisconsin. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 41,581 students and an admission rate of 63%. University of Wisconsin-Madison has a bachelor's degree and a master's degree program in Cartography which graduated three and two students respectively 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.


Madison, Wisconsin
Madison, Wisconsin photo by Dori

Madison is situated in Dane County, Wisconsin. It has a population of over 231,916, which has grown by 11.5% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Madison, 86, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Madison are valued at $243,800 on average, which is near the state average. In 2008, one hundred forty-eight new homes were constructed in Madison, down from three hundred seventy-four the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Madison are educational services, health care, and finance and insurance. For men, it is educational services, professional, scientific, and technical services, and accommodation and food services. The average travel time to work is about 18 minutes. More than 48.2% of Madison residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 20.9%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Madison is 5.2%, which is less than Wisconsin's average of 7.7%.

The percentage of Madison residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 52.5%, is more than the national average but less than the state average. Gates of Heaven Synagogue, Abundant Life Church and Grace Episcopal Church are some of the churches located in Madison. The most common religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the United Methodist Church.

Madison is home to the Allen Centennial Gardens and the Annie C Stewart Memorial Fountain as well as Bordner Park and Brigham Park. Shopping centers in the area include Brookwood Village Shopping Center, Whitney Square Shopping Center and Walnut Grove Shopping Center. Visitors to Madison can choose from Comfort Inn Madison, Howard Johnson-Plaza Hotel and Country Inn Sts Madison for temporary stays in the area.