Mapping A New Future Student Spotlight

June 11, 2021

Tony Price came to Santiago Canyon College to find a better job. He couldn’t be happier with his decision.

“I work as an equipment operator for Caltrans, and every now and then I check the postings to see if there is anything that would help me advance my career,” said the 34-year-old single father. “I saw a posting for a land surveying job, and it looked kind of interesting, something I might want to do. I contacted Santiago Canyon College, spent some time learning about their Land Surveying Program, and met with the program facilitator, who it turns out also works for Caltrans. The next thing you know, I signed up. And I’m glad I did.”

For good reason. The Santiago Canyon College Land Surveying Program is known for providing students of all ages a solid understanding of the trade in addition to an introduction in collection, manipulation, formatting and mapping of geospatial data. Graduates leave with the technical expertise to land entry-level positions – or more – in the fields of geographic information systems, land surveying, and digital photogrammetry that involves developing three-dimensional measurements from two-dimensional images. 

The well-respected surveying program includes courses ranging from Advanced Plane Surveying to Advanced Problems in Surveying and Legal Aspects of Surveying. It also helps prepare for the California Land Surveyor-In-Training and Land Surveyor’s exams

“It’s a one-of-a-kind program that kind of feels like an apprenticeship. All your teachers are working in the field. It’s not like you’re just reading a book. You’re out there applying what you learned in the classroom out in the real world.”

It’s also a worthwhile investment. Surveyors in the Anaheim, Long Beach, Los Angeles area can earn an average salary of more than $100,000 annually, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“It relates to everyday living and how we live our lives today,” he said. “Everyone lives somewhere, has a house or an apartment, which means you need to have someone measure and map your boundaries. You’re outside, it’s not an office job. It’s perfect for what I’m looking for.”

A Los Angeles native who grew up in Watts, Price, 34, briefly attended Long Beach City College after graduating from high school but suffered an injury and had to put his studies on hold. He later landed a plumbing apprenticeship, which he successfully completed earning him status as a fully licensed journeyman plumber. After several years in the trade, Price saw an opportunity to join the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), where he has been for the past six years.

He enrolled at Santiago Canyon College in the fall of 2019 and is on track to earn an associate degree in the field in December. 

Like many community college students, Price is succeeding while juggling the demands of work, parenting, and school. To say his schedule before the pandemic was a tad hectic would be an understatement. Price works at a Caltrans maintenance facility in East Los Angeles, would pick up his son in the afternoon from school in Lynwood and drop him off at his brother’s home nearby, then drive to his classes at Santiago Canyon College before picking up his son and driving home to Bellflower.

“It makes for a long day,” said Price, who recently purchased a home in the Inland Empire and was somewhat relieved when his college classes and his son’s school transitioned online during the pandemic. “But it’s worth it. This is a good program, this is a good career, and it will help me to better provide for my son.”