What Does a Surveillance Technician Do?

Lori Kilchermann

A surveillance technician is typically responsible for the installation and monitoring of many types of electrical surveillance equipment. Maintaining and testing the surveillance equipment is another aspect of the work typically performed by a surveillance technician. Equipment such as cameras, microphones and telephonic recording devices are common tools of the trade for many surveillance technicians. Many of these technicians work in areas which require a high level of security, such as casinos or gaming facilities, or they are employed by law enforcement agencies.

A surveillance technician is responsible for installing and monitoring electrical surveillance equipment.
A surveillance technician is responsible for installing and monitoring electrical surveillance equipment.

The job of a surveillance technician is to place surveillance cameras and related hardware in often difficult-to-notice locations. When a surveillance technician is working with a law enforcement agency, the equipment is often used in undercover and sting-type events. This type of surveillance is commonly done from long distance or without the aid of artificial light. The technician must be educated in many aspects of photography, audio recording and electronics in order to achieve the correct positioning to operate the surveillance equipment. A two-year degree in electronics is often required to become employed in the electronic surveillance field.

In casino environments, surveillance technicians monitor players constantly.
In casino environments, surveillance technicians monitor players constantly.

Most individuals must complete a multiple-year apprenticeship in order to become a surveillance technician. This apprenticeship is often completed after earning a two-year college degree and commonly requires the student to complete a written test and obtain a license within months of becoming employed as a technician. In the United States, the test is concerned with federal and state laws that govern the installation and the use of electronic surveillance equipment. In most areas, the applicant is also required to obtain a license to be employed as a technician. Many stipulations must be met in order to obtain this license, including no felonies, no crimes involving moral turpitude and no gambling-related charges or convictions.

In a gaming environment, the surveillance technician might install cameras that are in plain view to monitor not only the gamblers, but the gaming agency's employees as well. The dealers and other similarly employed gaming operators are monitored constantly in an effort to reduce thievery and dishonest play. A surveillance technician also typically monitors the action in another room of the casino via closed circuit television monitors. Miniature microphones hidden strategically throughout the casino also allow monitoring of conversations of patrons, employees and workers. Surveillance technicians typically report suspicious activity to the head of a company's security division, or to a casino boss or manager.

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