Topographical and Engineering Surveyor

Surveying is the science of representing the layout of the land accurately on maps or plans, and indicating the exact position of any structure or other man-made or natural object, above or below ground.

Surveying plays a vital role in the planning, provision and maintenance of all forms of construction and development.

Surveying comprises mainly two fields:

Topographical surveying entails the gathering of information to map the forms of the earth. This is done by means of: triangulation (measuring of angles); traversing; levelling (determining of heights); aerial photographs; calculating positions and heights; establishing place names; annotating aerial photographs by indicating the topographical features.

Back in the office, the surveyor applies this information to the task of preparing a detailed land map. A photogrammetric machine is used to assist in the process.

Engineering surveying entails the collection of all relevant information on the site of a proposed construction project and mapping out the area. Once the design of the project is complete, the surveyor pegs it out on the actual site and also monitors construction in progress to ensure that it does not exceed the layout.

Personal Requirements

  • mathematical ability - especially in trigonometry
  • intellectual ability
  • good observation skills
  • responsible
  • work accurately
  • drawing ability
  • willing to do field work
  • able to work independently or with people


  • government departments such as Public Works, Water Affairs and Forestry and Transport
  • municipalities
  • universities
  • such organisations as Eskom, CSIR
  • civil engineering firms
  • building contractors
  • private land surveying companies
  • self-employment, with enough experience, initiative and capital, can start own practice and/ or work as a consultant

Getting Started

  • speak to topographical and engineering surveyors and ask to observe them at work
  • try to get vacation work as a topographical and engineering surveyor’s assistant


Boston City Campus and Business College does not offer a programme that leads directly to this occupation. Please take a look at the related occupations below to see whether any of these appeal to you. Alternately, please send an email to and a Student Advisor will call you back.

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