Ministry of Business and Innovation - Occupation Outlook

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Surveyors and Geospatial Professionals

Job Prospects

Job Prospects... At a glance

Prospects are good for surveyors and geospatial professionals are good, particularly in Auckland and Christchurch. This is due to a strong residential building sector, a stable commercial building sector, increased demand for geospatial services and too few people training for the role to meet demand.

How to become a surveyor or geospatial professional

What they do

Surveyors measure and analyse the surface of the earth, both on land and under water. There are many fields of specialisation for surveyors. For example, topographical surveyors measure the land before building projects start, to give accurate information to engineers; licensed cadastral surveyors measure and determine property boundaries; and hydrographic surveyors measure the seabed for purposes such as exploring for oil, marking underwater hazards and providing information for underwater construction projects. There are other fields of specialisation as well.

Survey technicians or assistants work under the direction of qualified surveyors and assist them in their work.

Geospatial professionals such as analysts and software developers use geographic information systems (GIS) to analyse and manage information about locations in space and time. They create maps, charts, and other presentations of the data and develop related equipment, software and services.

Their tasks may include:

  • determining the position of points of interest on the earth's surface including marine floors, and preparing the final product data in digital form
  • supervising the preparation of plans, maps, charts and drawings to give pictorial representations and managing spatial information systems
  • undertaking research and development of surveying and photogrammetric measurement systems, cadastral systems and land information systems
  • planning and designing land subdivision projects and negotiating details with local governments and other authorities
  • advising Architects, Engineering Professionals, environmental and other scientists or other relevant professionals on the technical requirements of surveying, mapping and spatial information systems
  • compiling and evaluating data, interpreting codes of practice, and writing reports concerning survey measurement, land use and tenure
  • preparing site plans and survey reports required for conveyancing and land ownership matters
  • evaluating, compiling and maintaining spatial information using a range of digital and graphical source materials, including aerial photographs, satellite imagery, survey documents, existing maps and records, historical data, reports and statistics
  • analysing and interpreting data to design maps, graphs, plans, drawings and three-dimensional models using geographic information and related systems
  • developing and trialling new applications for use in geographic information systems
  • supervising and coordinating the work of Surveying or Spatial Science Technicians in the production and reproduction of geographic products.

Qualifications needed

To become a surveyor you need to have a Bachelor of Surveying (BSurv). This is a professional degree which takes four years. Graduates with this degree qualify for membership of the New Zealand Institute of Surveyors (NZIS).  NZIS offers individual support to all those that work in the surveying and spatial sector.

To become a survey technician or assistant, you need a National Certificate in Surveying (Level 3), National Certificate in Hydrographic Surveying (Level 3), or National Diploma in Surveying (Level 6).

Geospatial professionals usually have a degree in surveying, geography, applied or computer science, digital technology, or a related subject. Taking papers in GIS is usually necessary to become a geospatial professional. Postgraduate studies in GIS are also an option.

Cost of study

Bachelor of Surveying (BSurv)National Diploma in Surveying (Level 6)
$32,000 over four years $16,200 over two years

Average costs in 2018 for a domestic student. Costs vary between institutions. First time students may be eligible for  fees-free tertiary education for their first year of study, which will reduce the total cost. For more information about fees-free eligibility, go to  Further costs include student levies, administrative fees, materials, textbooks and accommodation.  

Cost of study for geospatial professionals depends on what degree they have and where they studied. Generally, completing a three year bachelor’s degree cost more than the National Diploma in Surveying, but less than the BSurv.

Rents vary from place to place. Estimated market rents by region, city and suburb are available on the MBIE Tenancy Services website.

The StudyLink website provides general budget advice for students, and the Sorted website provides help with detailed budget planning.

Tenancy Services: 

Where to study

The Bachelor of Surveying is only offered at the School of Surveying at the University of Otago.

The New Zealand Navy trains a small number of people as hydrographic surveyors. After several years of training and experience, this programme leads to a civil qualification as a hydrographic surveyor.

All universities in New Zealand offer degrees that can lead to a career as a geospatial professional.  More details about tertiary GIS study options are at the Studying GIS page on the Land Information New Zealand website.

Studying GIS:

Unitec and Bay of Plenty Polytechnic offer a National Diploma in Surveying (Level 6). Bay of Plenty Polytechnic’s diploma is for people who are already working in the surveying industry who want to complete the qualification while they continue to work. Unitec offers both a full-time and part-time option for their diploma. For full time students, the qualification takes two years to complete.

Connexis, the Infrastructure Industry Training Organisation, is the ITO that looks after the certificates and diplomas in surveying.

Connexis, surveying:


Students and graduates can become members of the New Zealand Institute of Surveyors (NZIS). After finishing the BSurv, members can apply to become a registered professional surveyor.

In order to certify land title surveys, a surveyor must be a licensed cadastral (land title) surveyor. Licensing is handled by the Cadastral Surveyors Licensing Board.

Experienced geospatial professionals can apply for certification through the Surveying and Spatial Sciences Institute, though this is not compulsory. Anyone with an undergraduate degree and relevant experience may apply.

Cadastral Surveyors Licensing Board: 
Surveying and Spatial Sciences Institute:

Completed qualifications

The number of students completing a bachelor’s degree in the broader category Geomatic Engineering has been fairly stable for the last few years. The number of students completing the diploma in geomatic engineering has been low, and recently as few as five persons per year have completed this qualification.

Qualification completions chart

Source: Ministry of Education

Income and employment prospects


The average annual income for surveyors, survey technicians and geospatial professionals is estimated to be around $80,700. Surveyors and geospatial professionals will usually earn more than survey technicians. Income also varies with skills and experience.

Estimated Average Income

Source: MBIE estimates based on Statistics NZ Census and Labour Cost Index.

Employment and skill shortages

Surveyors and geospatial professionals’ employment

HistoricProjected Growth
2006 2013 2023 2028
1,782 1,803 2,250 2,570
  0.2% 3.7% 2.2%

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections. Percentages are compound annual growth rates.
*Projected numbers are based on the broader category “Architects, Designers, Planners and Surveyors”.

There has been a steady rise in the number of employed surveyors and geospatial professionals in recent years. Employment is forecast to grow 3.7% per year to 2023, and 2.2% per year to 2028. This large increase in employment means surveyors and geospatial professionals will be in high demand in the coming years.

Employment chart


Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections

Surveyors and other spatial scientists are on Immigration New Zealand’s Long-Term Skill Shortage List for all regions.

Surveyors and survey technicians are on Immigration New Zealand’s Construction and Infrastructure Skill Shortage List (CISSL) for all regions.

If a job appears on the lists, it means the government is actively encouraging skilled people in the role to come and work in New Zealand. When there is a shortage of workers, it should be easy to find a job for qualified professionals. A full list is available on the Immigration New Zealand website.

Immigration NZ, skill shortage list:

Where to find job vacancies

The number of online job vacancies for surveyor and spatial scientist positions has fluctuated since  2013,  with an increase over the last four years.

Jobs advertised chart

Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment

Surveyor and geospatial professional vacancies are advertised through websites such as Trade Me Jobs and Seek and, increasingly, through social media like LinkedIn.

Trade Me Jobs: 

Career path

Surveyors and survey technicians often work in private surveying practices, public agencies involved in planning and land regulation, or construction and engineering companies. There are many fields of specialisation available. Some surveyors start their own businesses.

Geospatial professionals often work for local councils and other government organisations, geospatial consultancies, or large construction and engineering companies and increasingly for organisations in the social sector or organisations using statistics. There are many specialisations available, such as geospatial analyst or geospatial developer.

Related Occupations

The following occupations are related roles or alternative titles. Some of the roles may require different qualifications and skills than surveyors and geospatial professionals.

  • Architect
  • Civil Engineer
  • Civil Engineering Technician
  • Engineering Assistant
  • Geospatial Scientist
  • GIS Analyst
  • GIS Developer
  • Land Development Engineer
  • Land Surveyor
  • Licensed Cadastral Surveyor
  • Mining Engineer
  • Project Engineer
  • Project Manager
  • Survey Technician

Other information


More information on surveyors and geospatial professionals is available on the Careers New Zealand website and through the "Just the Job" videos.

Careers New Zealand: (Surveyor)
Careers New Zealand: (Geospatial Specialist)
Just the Job video clip: A Career in Surveying


The Australian New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) is the official classification of occupations in New Zealand.

The occupation of surveyors and geospatial scientists has been coded to the following ANZSCO codes for their purpose of this report:

312116 –Surveying or Spatial Science Technician
2322 - Surveyors and Spatial Scientists