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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 Survey Technician student uses surveying equipment in an outdoor setting.
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 surveying software, computer-aided drafting (CAD) programs, geographic information systems (GIS) platforms and web-based (GPS) applications

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

  • Field experience is a mandatory credit course, providing you with the opportunity to apply your knowledge and skills outside of the classroom.
    • Opportunities are typically unpaid and last approximately 5 weeks.
  • This program is eligible for an optional cooperative education (co-op) credit course between year one and two.
    • Co-op provides an opportunity for paid, full-time employment in a field related to your program.
    • Co-op takes place in third term and must be a minimum of 12 weeks and 420 hours.
    • Our co-op program follows Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning Canada (CEWIL) guidelines.
  • Transportation, accommodations and other costs related to work experience are your responsibility.
  • 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 Technology Accreditation Canada (TAC). TAC 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.


Seats are available for domestic applicants only. International applicants will be waitlisted.

September 2024

Campus Full time/part time Delivery Availability
Annapolis Valley Campus
Classes at COGS
Full time In person
Delivered in-person. Some courses may have online elements.

Admission requirements

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.


Tuition amounts are for the 2024-25 academic year. Program costs and fees (textbooks, supplies, etc.) are additional.

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

  • Completion of this program provides the admission requirement for the Geomatics Engineering Technology program. This second-year program will enhance skills and accelerate career paths.

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 may be able to apply to earn credit. Not all programs are eligible. 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 introduces students to the care and use of surveying instruments and equipment as well as methods of survey. Students perform field surveys in a team environment using conventional survey equipment. Students make observations and record field notes in the process of collecting survey data. Data is then processed and analyzed to assess accuracy. Survey skills include differential and trigonometric levelling, angle measurement, and distance measurement. 

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 builds on the concepts and principles learned in Surveying I with the study of horizontal and vertical curves, intersections, land partitioning, and earthworks. Students perform field surveys using conventional survey equipment including total stations and GNSS units. Students also apply data collection software to accurately collect and manage survey data.  

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 builds on the skills and knowledge acquired in Fieldwork I and theory courses. Students perform field surveys using conventional survey equipment including total stations and GNSS units. Students apply data collection software to accurately collect and manage survey data. Data is then processed to assess accuracy and generate plans or models. Survey projects include construction layout, remote coordinate determination, traverses, and retracement surveys.  

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
An introduction to Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) with a focus on survey grade technologies and applications. Satellite system concepts including constellation design, system segments, signals and signal structure, vehicle status, and error sources are discussed. Single point measurement and differential positioning using real-time kinematic (RTK) procedures are performed. GNSS theory is applied through planning, measurement, and analysis of data collected in surveying projects.

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.

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