Career Development

What Does an Assistant Surveyor Do?

Find out what an Assistant Surveyor does, how to get this job, salary information, and what it takes to succeed as an Assistant Surveyor.

The Assistant Surveyor role is designed to support the lead surveyor in collecting and analyzing data from the field, which is essential for planning and executing construction projects, land development, or mapping boundaries. This position involves a blend of fieldwork and office tasks, including setting up instruments, taking measurements, and helping to process the data collected to ensure accuracy and reliability. By working closely with a team of professionals, the Assistant Surveyor contributes to the creation of detailed plans and reports that serve as foundational elements for project stakeholders, ensuring that all measurements and calculations meet the required standards and specifications. Through this supportive function, the Assistant Surveyor plays an integral role in facilitating the smooth progression of various projects from conception to completion.

Assistant Surveyor Job Duties

  • Assist in the collection and analysis of data from survey projects, including measurements of distances, angles, elevations, and contours.
  • Operate and maintain surveying instruments such as theodolites, GPS units, and total stations to gather accurate data.
  • Prepare and manage detailed field notes and sketches documenting surveying activities and findings.
  • Support the Surveyor in calculating land boundaries, areas, and elevations using specialized software and mathematical techniques.
  • Help in drafting and preparing survey maps, plans, and detailed reports based on survey results.
  • Coordinate with team members and other professionals on-site to ensure surveying activities comply with legal and project specifications.
  • Install and remove survey markers, stakes, and other temporary structures used for guiding construction or land development projects.
  • Perform basic administrative tasks, such as scheduling appointments, filing documents, and managing survey equipment inventories.

Assistant Surveyor Salary & Outlook

Assistant Surveyor salaries vary based on experience, with seasoned professionals commanding higher wages. Specialization in areas like construction or geospatial surveying can also influence earnings. Additionally, the industry of employment, such as government or private sector, and the size of the employing company play significant roles in salary determination.

  • Median Annual Salary: $65,625 ($31.55/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $106,000 ($50.96/hour)

The employment of assistant surveyors is expected to grow slower than average over the next decade.

This is primarily due to advancements in surveying technology, such as drones and GPS systems, which increase efficiency and reduce the need for manual labor. Additionally, the trend towards consolidating surveying tasks under fewer, more skilled professionals further limits opportunities for Assistant Surveyors.

Assistant Surveyor Job Requirements

Education: Assistant Surveyors typically hold a Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree in fields such as Surveying, Civil Engineering, or Geography. Coursework often includes mathematics, statistics, geodesy, and cartography, alongside specialized surveying techniques and technology. A strong foundation in GIS (Geographic Information Systems) and CAD (Computer-Aided Design) software is also essential. Advanced degrees may focus on more complex surveying methodologies, project management, and legal aspects of land surveying.

Experience: Assistant Surveyors typically come with a blend of on-the-job training and formal training programs, having progressed through various levels of practical experience. They often start with foundational tasks, gradually taking on more complex surveying responsibilities. Experience in using surveying equipment, data collection, and analysis, as well as understanding of geographical information systems (GIS), is crucial. Continuous learning through mentorship and participation in relevant projects enhances their skill set, preparing them for a wide range of surveying challenges.

Certifications & Licenses: Assistant Surveyors typically do not require specific certifications or licenses for entry-level positions. However, obtaining a Certified Survey Technician (CST) certification from the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS) can be beneficial. Some jurisdictions may require licensure for advanced roles, but this is not common for assistant positions.

Assistant Surveyor Skills

Land Measurement: Tools like theodolites, GPS units, and measuring tapes are employed by assistant surveyors to determine the precise dimensions and boundaries of land. The data collected is crucial for creating detailed maps and reports, supporting construction, resolving legal disputes, and facilitating land development projects.

Data Collection: Assistant surveyors gather accurate measurements and detailed information through fieldwork, using advanced technology and tools to maintain data integrity. This meticulous recording process is necessary for producing reliable maps and plans for analysis and decision-making.

CAD Software: With CAD software, assistant surveyors can create, modify, and analyze land survey data effectively. Their ability to generate precise mappings and documentation of land features and boundaries aids in efficient project collaboration by providing essential visual representations and technical drawings.

Topographic Mapping: The creation of detailed earth surface representations, including physical features and contours, is a specialized skill. It involves precise measurement and recording of elevations, slopes, and distances to produce maps that support construction, engineering, and environmental management.

GPS Navigation: Utilizing technology for precise location data is critical in accurately mapping and measuring land parcels. Assistant surveyors rely on GPS navigation to obtain exact coordinates, streamlining fieldwork and ensuring accuracy in development or legal documentation.

Boundary Determination: Accurate limits of property lines are established through careful analysis of legal land descriptions and survey data. Assistant surveyors use advanced technologies and methodologies to deliver reliable results that meet legal standards and help resolve disputes.

Assistant Surveyor Work Environment

An Assistant Surveyor often finds themselves oscillating between office settings and fieldwork. The office environment is equipped with computers and specialized software for data analysis and report preparation, providing a quiet space for focused tasks. Contrastingly, fieldwork introduces them to various outdoor conditions, requiring the use of tools like GPS, theodolites, and levels. This blend of environments necessitates a flexible wardrobe, shifting from business casual in the office to protective and practical gear on-site.

Work hours can extend beyond the typical nine-to-five, especially when deadlines approach or when fieldwork is dependent on weather conditions. This role demands a high level of collaboration, involving regular interaction with team members, clients, and sometimes the public, fostering a dynamic social environment. Safety protocols are paramount, especially in the field, to mitigate risks associated with outdoor work.

The pace is project-driven, balancing between intense periods of fieldwork and detailed data analysis phases. Opportunities for professional growth are abundant, with technology playing a significant role in advancing surveying methods. This career path offers a unique mix of indoor and outdoor work, requiring adaptability and a keen attention to detail.

Advancement Prospects

An Assistant Surveyor can progress to a Licensed Surveyor role, overseeing larger projects and eventually leading survey teams. This advancement requires gaining extensive field experience and demonstrating proficiency in data collection and analysis.

Specializing in areas such as geodetic, topographic, or hydrographic surveying opens up opportunities in specific sectors like construction, oil and gas, or environmental management.

Leadership roles, such as Survey Manager or Project Manager, are achievable with a strong track record of successful project delivery and team management skills.

Advancing further, one might aim for positions like Chief Surveyor or Director of Surveying Services, focusing on strategic planning and business development within surveying firms or governmental agencies.

To accomplish these advancements, an Assistant Surveyor should focus on mastering cutting-edge surveying technologies and methodologies, as well as developing strong project management and communication skills.


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