Mapping technicians use computers to combine information collected by surveyors to generate and update maps of the earth’s surface. They also assist geographers, landscape architects and other professionals to interpret the information on maps. A keen eye for detail and knowledge of trigonometry and geometry are the must-haves in this profession. So if you possess these competencies, keep reading to find out how to become a mapping technician.
What Do Mapping Technicians Do?
Mapping technicians work with several other professionals such as surveyors, cartographers and photogrammetrists. Their primary duties include:
- Handling special mapping equipment
- Transferring survey data into maps
- Creating maps showing political boundaries, elevation and other physical features
- Checking current maps and making corrections
- Updating existing maps with new data
- Digitizing paper maps
Mapping technicians work from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. They work in a standard office environment complete with computers, which they use to execute their daily activities.
At times they travel to different locations to collect relevant information.
The following table shows the top-paying industries for this occupation:
Annual mean wage
Power generation and distribution
Oil and gas extraction
Natural gas distribution
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
The road to becoming a mapping technician begins in college. Aspiring technicians must earn at least an associate’s degree in geomatic technology or geomatic engineering.
These degrees cover units such as:
- Remote sensing
- Geographic information system (GIS) technology
- Digital mapping
- Computer-Aided Design
Possessing a degree alone is not sufficient to make you attractive to potential employers. As such, you should seek the Certified Mapping Scientist credential from the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS). To earn it, you must pass an examination.
Important Skills and Abilities
To become a successful mapping technician, you should have the following skills and abilities:
- A detailed understanding of geography
- Good mathematical skills
- An eye for detail
- Good communication skills
- The ability to work in a team and as an individual
- The ability to concentrate for long periods of time
- A reasonable level of physical fitness
- Excellent IT Skills
After getting a job, you will be taken through an on-the-job training by experienced mapping technicians. Because mapping technician is an entry-level position, you should strive to obtain advanced degrees to enhance your chances of securing a promotion. Some of the suitable career progression paths include:
- Pursuing a bachelor’s degree in land surveying or surveying and mapping.
- Joining professional bodies, such as the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping and the American Society of Photogrammetry.
Qualified mapping technicians can find jobs in the following sectors:
- Government agencies, such as the United States Geological Survey
- Mining companies
- Pipeline transport companies
- Oil and gas manufacturing companies.
After gaining experience, you can progress to become a senior mapping technician. Those who earn advanced degrees in surveying can become surveyors.
The Bureau of Labor Statics predicts that the U.S economy will create about 7,300 job in the next 8 years. This represents an impressive 14 percent growth rate, considering that the average for all jobs is 11 percent. So you can expect to land a job without too much hassle.
So if you possess the right skills and attributes then a career as a mapping technician might just be for you.