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Engineering & Topographical Survey

The topographical and engineering surveyor measures and records natural and built features on the earth’s surface in order to create accurate maps for design and construction. They also perform the surveys necessary to control, set out and monitor the construction of buildings, roads, bridges, dams. The work is varied and often requires high responsibility. Training is over 4–5years at University of Zimbabwe, Midlands State University for a Degree in Surveying, Harare Polytechnic and Bulawayo Polytechnic for a diploma in Surveying. 

The topographical surveyor prepares maps necessary for all physical planning and development. Before any work can begin, the sites for dams, bridges, canals, roads, airports, agricultural projects and other projects must first be surveyed.

The engineering surveyor compiles a topographical map before an engineering project is started. He/she sets out the proposed site and monitors progress of the project to ensure that it remains within the limits as surveyed and set out by him/her.

Topographical and engineering surveyors use the trigonometrical beacons, which were erected by the Chief Directorate of Surveys and Mapping throughout the country, as points of reference. They make use of angular and distance measurements when recording, making calculations and setting out construction sites.

The topographical surveyor also collects information on the names of places and annotates information on aerial photographs by taking notes of the topographical features of the area. He/she can prepare detailed topographical maps with the use of modern photogrammetrical equipment.

Working conditions of topographical and engineering surveyors vary between fieldwork and office work. They sometimes camp out in the field for days. Examination of survey records, diagrams and plans, the work with photogrammetrical equipment, draughting and calculations are usually done in the office.

This field involves the use of modern equipment such as drones. The use of such technologies makes the work out of office more enjoyable.

Topographical and engineering surveyors need good intellectual ability and must be objective scientific observers. Mathematical aptitude, especially in Trigonometry is a necessity because of the application in the work. Computer literacy is essential. They must be able to work on their own or with people.

Opportunities for employment exist at government departments such as the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development, Irrigation Department and various engineering and building contractors.



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The field work can be physically demanding, good health is essential. However, some large organisations do employ qualified technical surveyors to solely perform the office functions associated with survey work, such as calculating and draughting. Draughting and map compilation are increasingly taking place at computer workstations.