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Survey Technician

Develop surveying skills using lasers and satellites to measure, position and map physical features of the world around us.

A female technician measuring a space.
Start Date:
Typical Length:
1 Year

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This program introduces you to the science of measuring spatial data including height, distance, angles and coordinates, then using that data to define and map our physical world.

In this program you:

  • Spend up to 50% of your classes in the field working in teams
  • Learn through hands-on labs and projects to use instruments such as levels, total stations and satellite-based global positioning systems (GPS) as well as practical measuring techniques
  • Record measurements in field notes and data collectors
  • Learn to process, analyze and present data by using various surveying, computer-aided drafting (CAD), mapping and GPS software

This program is offered at the Centre of Geographic Sciences (COGS), Canada's largest geomatics-focused learning environment, and prepares you for a career in the global geomatics sector.

Work experience

  • Work placement is a mandatory credit course, providing the opportunity to apply your knowledge and skills outside of the classroom.
    • Opportunities are typically unpaid and last approximately 5 weeks.
    • Transportation, accommodations and other costs related to work placements are your responsibility.
  • This program is eligible for an optional cooperative education (co-op) credit course between year one and two.
    • Co-op placements provide the opportunity for paid, full-time work in a field related to your program. Opportunities typically last 12 to 16 weeks.
    • Our co-op program follows Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning Canada (CEWIL) guidelines.
  • For more information visit Work Experience Opportunities.

Choose NSCC

  • NSCC's Centre of Geographic Sciences (COGS) provides a focused approach to geomatics training. COGS has earned a strong reputation among employers and geomatics professionals for the quality of the programs, hands-on training and practical learning provided to students.
  • You learn at a campus location that is dedicated to geomatics training and work alongside other students studying related disciplines.
  • Small class sizes provide you with lots of opportunities for one-on-one interaction and support.
  • You use up-to-date equipment and software and get the hands-on training that makes our grads the preferred choice of employers.
  • This program is accredited by the Canadian Technology Accreditation Board (CTAB), a standing committee of the Canadian Council of Technicians and Technologists (CCTT). CTAB accreditation means that this program has been evaluated against standards designed by industry leaders across Canada and is recognized internationally. Graduates may be eligible for membership with TechNova, the certifying organization for Engineering and Applied Science Technicians and Technologists in Nova Scotia.

Other info

  • Many employers in this industry require a current, official criminal record check as part of the hiring process. A conviction on your criminal record may impact your ability to secure employment.

2022-23 programs

Program delivery may be subject to change based on Public Health guidelines.

September 2022

Campus Location Full time/part time Delivery Availability
Annapolis Valley Campus Classes at COGS Full time In-class In-classDelivered in-person. Some courses may have online elements. Seats available

Admission requirements

  • High School Graduation Diploma or equivalent
    • International students – High school diploma equivalency and English language requirements vary by country. View details
  • If you do not have the required academic credits, NSCC offers a variety of credit courses through the Academic and Career Connections program.

Program requirements

  • Portfolio development – As part of your studies at NSCC, you develop a portfolio of your work; the portfolio captures your achievements and profiles your skills to employers.


2022-23 tuition will be announced in the late Spring once approved by the government of Nova Scotia. Program costs and fees (textbooks, supplies, etc.) are additional. Amounts below were for the 2021-22 academic year.

Tuition (Domestic):
Tuition (International):

Tuition, fees and program costs

In addition to annual tuition, there are program costs (books, tools, etc.) and student fees for college services, health and dental plans, your student association and parking.

View detailed program fees page(s). Please note that amounts on these pages are meant for planning purposes only. They don't represent final amounts owing.

Career options

  • Potential employers include those involved in:
    • Cadastral (legal) surveys
    • Engineering
    • Construction
    • Land development
    • Natural resource development
  • The skills obtained by survey technicians are used in varied situations, such as:
    • Legal surveys to determine property ownership
    • Residential and commercial subdivision layouts
    • Construction surveys for roads, dams, buildings and other large structures
    • Natural resources exploration and development
    • Supplying data to non-surveying professionals (e.g., engineers, architects, etc.)

Future study options

Courses may include

These are some of the courses offered in this program. It is not a complete list and courses are subject to change in advance of the academic year.

Recognizing prior learning / transfer credits
If you have previous learning (course, employment, etc...) that's relevant to your program, you can apply to earn credit. Learn about our recognizing prior learning (RPL) process.

SAFE 1000 - Introduction to WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information Systems)
This course offers learners basic overview of WHMIS principles and establishes a solid foundation to support workplace-specific training on the safe storage and handling of controlled/hazardous products. Upon successful completion of the course, students receive basic WHMIS certification.

SAFE 1001 - Introduction to NS OH&S Act
This course offers students an introduction to the Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) Act of Nova Scotia, which is required by any person employed in a Nova Scotia workplace. This is a generic, introductory course that provides basic knowledge of the Act for students and is considered to be the basis from which more specific training can be given.

SUTN 1000 - Surveying I
This course will introduce the learner to methods of plane surveying and will illustrate how these methods apply to field projects. Topics include levelling, directions, and angle measurement, distance measurement, traversing, and coordinates.

SUTN 1001 - Survey Mathematics
This course introduces the learner to the concepts of geometry, analytic geometry, and trigonometry, as they relate to survey related applications. The course is taught in a graphical, numerical and analytical manner, with extensive use of worked examples.

SUTN 1006 - Fieldwork I
This course will introduce the learner to the care and use of surveying instruments and equipment as well as methods of survey. In addition, the learner must learn to function effectively as part of a team. Topics of study include levelling, angle measurement, distance measurement and site survey.

SUTN 1011 - Introduction to AutoCAD
The objective of this course is to provide a general introduction to drafting within a CAD environment. This course introduces learners to the latest AutoCAD software drafting package. Learners learn basic AutoCAD commands with a focus on Geomatics.

SUTN 1018 - Communications Fundamentals
This course introduces learners to concepts of effective communication in a technical environment and particularly to working effectively in teams. It further introduces the concept of portfolio and demonstrates its effectiveness in professional development and career planning through resume writing and job search skills as well as writing and oral presentation skills.

SUTN 2005 - Digital Mapping Applications
This course gives students the introductory skills and knowledge to analyze and generate maps in a digital environment. Students may source geographic data from a range of sources such as government websites and remotely sensed imagery. They manipulate, analyze, and interpret this data using industry standard tools and techniques. Students build on this to create map products suitable to help prepare for a survey project.

SUTN 2007 - Surveying II
This course will build on the concepts and principles learned in Surveying I with the study of horizontal and vertical curves, intersections, land partitioning, and earthworks. In addition, an industry-standard surveying software package will be utilized throughout this course.

SUTN 2008 - Automated Drafting and Coordinate Geometry
This course integrates basic concepts of AutoCAD drawing commands with a focus on Land Survey applications. This course will also introduce the learner to Carlson Survey. This program has become widely accepted by the surveying community in Canada and in the United States. Learners will draft and compile plans to the set of standards that have been set out in the Nova Scotia Land Surveyors Act and Regulations.

SUTN 2009 - Introduction to Geodesy and Map Projections
This course provides learners an introduction to the concepts of geodesy and map projections as used in the geomatics industry. The course explains how ellipsoids and datums are used to model the shape of the earth and how datums are used to provide geographically referenced positions. The characteristics of map projections are examined, including reasons for selecting a specific map projection based on map purpose. Additionally, methods used to reduce field observations to the mapping plane surface are emphasized. In this course, students will complete a number of practical exercises using proprietary software and manual calculations.

SUTN 2013 - Survey Law
This course will introduce the learner to a variety of legal and/or surveying concepts. The course is lecture based. A number of assignments and tests are given through the term.

SUTN 2015 - Fieldwork II
This course will build on the skills and knowledge acquired in the first semester fieldwork and theory courses as well as the current curriculum by utilizing on-board Total Station software and GPS technology to perform practical field exercises. Once again, the learner must learn to function effectively as part of a team. Topics include coordinate layout, legal surveys, remote coordinate determination, horizontal curves, slope staking and interlining.

SUTN 2018 - Technical Writing
This course will introduce learners to concepts of effective communication in a technical environment, and particularly to working effectively in teams. It further introduces the concept of portfolio and demonstrates its effectiveness in professional development and career planning. This course will develop technical writing and oral presentation skills.

SUTN 2019 - Global Navigation Satellite System
This course provides the learner with an overview of the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), its segments and Clear or Coarse Acquisition (C/A) code observation techniques. The learner also receives an introduction to datums as they pertain to GNSS, and GNSS field procedures for mapping and Geographic Information System (GIS) data capture.

SUTN 2031 - Advanced Computer Applications
This course will expand upon the learning acquired in Introduction to Computer Applications. Microsoft Excel will be explored further to gain a more in depth understanding of the numerous functions available for problem solving in a technical setting. Automation of Excel through macros and the background VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) programming language will be introduced.

SUTN 2501 - Field Camp
This course will apply all of the aspects of surveying that the learner has been introduced to during the year. Once again the learner must learn to function effectively as part of a team. Topics include subdivision layout, route design, Ordinary High Water Mark determination, location certificate survey, digital site survey and evidence quest.

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