Drafting and Survey Technician

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Job description

Drafting and Survey Technicians (DS Tech) provide both deployed and domestic drafting and survey support to the Canadian Armed Forces and other government departments anywhere in the world.

Drafting and Survey Technicians belong to the Military Engineering Branch of the Canadian Armed Forces. Their primary responsibilities are:

  • Collect geodetic survey data using the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) and other survey equipment
  • Use data to produce digital and hard copy civil and site drawings, and designs of specific areas
  • Use computer aided design (CAD) software to produce digital and hard copy designs
  • Provide survey and drawing support to military specialist engineering teams


Drafting and survey technician

I’m Sergeant Sean Carroll from Antigonish, Nova Scotia, a Drafting and Survey Technician with 1 Engineer Support Unit, in Kingston, Ontario.

And I’m Master Corporal Cameron Wallace from McCord, Saskatchewan, a Drafting and Survey Technician also with 1 Engineer Support Unit at CFB Kingston.

WALLACE: Drafting and Survey Technicians, or DS Techs, provide deployed and domestic survey and drafting support to the Forces and other government departments, using the latest survey equipment and computer-aided drafting software. 

CARROLL: As surveyors, we ensure that camps and structures are situated in the right locations and laid out in the correct orientation.

WALLACE: As draftspersons, we generate the final construction drawings from the engineers’ designs, that the tradespeople use to actually build the project.

WALLACE: There’s so much that we could do, right? We could be outside, surveying the ground, and then back inside, taking that data that we collected, putting it into the computer and then producing a design and then going out and staking it out again.

CARROLL: And from Corporal to Sergeant, you’re usually involved in every step of the process.

CARROLL: Drafting and Survey Technicians work as both surveyors and draftspersons and are required to be proficient at both.

WALLACE: What makes a good Drafting and Surveying Technician would be somebody that pays very close attention to detail, that’s very meticulous. Also, honesty plays a huge role, just to build that trust between you and the people that you’re working with.

CARROLL: We work with the latest Global Navigation Satellite System enabled survey equipment, and work with both Auto CAD and Auto CAD Civil 3D for Computer Aided Design.

WALLACE: As a Drafting and Survey Tech in the military, we’re trained in the many technical aspects of Drafting and Survey but we’re also trained to develop our soldier skills because we need to be able to work in a combat environment.

CARROLL: The camaraderie is great within the drafting / surveying section, and again a lot of really unique experiences, from being responsible for laying out hundreds of tents for a major exercise -- it can be yourself and your partner tasked to do that before the main body shows up. So you get to kinda see stuff falling into place.

WALLACE: I’ve been deployed to places within Canada such as Rankin Inlet, Inuvik, Wainwright, Alberta, Petawawa, Ontario – outside of Canada, I’ve been deployed to South Dakota, Latvia, and Kuwait.

WALLACE:  To become a DS Tech, after your basic military training, you’ll attend the Canadian Forces School of Military Engineering at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown in New Brunswick for the technical portion of your trade training.

WALLACE:  When you’re done at Gagetown, you’ll be posted to either CFB Cold Lake in Alberta, CFB Greenwood in Nova Scotia, or CFB Kingston in Ontario where you’ll go through 2 years of on-the-job training. You’ll be working alongside experienced DS Techs who will mentor you as you develop your new trade skills, working on a wide variety of engineering and construction projects.

CARROLL: And because it’s such a small trade, everyone will get the opportunity to continue to travel and deploy, and stay current and stay on the tools. I didn’t join to ride a desk, and the working ranks – it goes right from top to bottom.

WALLACE: The most attractive part about being a Drafting and Surveying Technician in the Canadian Armed Forces would be the deploying side. Just seeing a different part of the world, seeing how another country operates and helping out that country.

CARROLL: I’ve always wanted to join the military as a kid – I went in blind, not knowing what I was getting into, and it was one of the best decisions I made.


Working Environment

Drafting and Survey Technicians may be members of either the Canadian Army or the Royal Canadian Air Force.  They may be called upon to support all CAF exercises and operations, including those lead by the Royal Canadian Navy. The primary work environment is in an office, however fieldwork is a large component of the job and is conducted in approved weather conditions, 24/7, on bases, wings or in operational theatres. Drafting and Survey Technicians use high-tech computer workstations and software designed for drafting and survey applications. Drafting and Survey Technicians are employed in Kingston, ON; Gagetown, NB; Cold Lake, AB; and Greenwood, NS. As you progress in your career, you may also have the opportunity to be posted to Brussels, Belgium.

Pay and Career Development

The starting salary for a fully trained Drafting and Survey Technician is $49,400 per year; however, depending on previous experience and training the starting salary may be higher. Drafting and Survey Technicians who demonstrate the required ability, dedication and potential are selected for opportunities for career progression, promotion and advanced training.

Related Civilian Occupations

  • Land Survey Technologists and Technicians
  • Land Surveyor
  • Architectural Drafting Technician
  • Civil Engineering Technologists

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Basic Military Qualification (BMQ)

The first stage of training is the Basic Military Qualification course, or Basic Training, held at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. This training provides the basic core skills and knowledge common to all trades. A goal of this course is to ensure that all recruits maintain the CAF physical fitness standard; as a result, the training is physically demanding.

Occupational Qualification Training

Drafting and Survey Technicians attend the Canadian Forces School of Military Engineering (CFSME) at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, Oromocto, New Brunswick. You will receive instruction from civilian and military instructors on the following topics:

  • Planning and conducting land surveys
  • Mathematics related to survey
  • Data and material management
  • Auto CAD software
  • Producing Civil designs
  • Producing building systems designs
  • Performing construction stakeouts
  • Producing as-Built drawings
  • Construction Engineering common tasks and safety

Specialty Training

Drafting and Survey Technicians may be offered the opportunity to develop specialized skills through formal courses and on-the-job training, including:

  • Geodetic terrestrial survey training
  • Advanced geodetic applications
  • Specialized design software

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Entry plans

Now hiring: we are now accepting applications for this job through direct entry.

Required Education

The minimum required education to apply for this occupation is the completion of the provincial requirements for Grade 11 high school, secondary V in Quebec or equivalent secondary school education, including: Grade 11 applied math or math 526 in Quebec.

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