Difference between Theodolite and Total Station. Theodolites and total stations belong to the category of professional instruments. They are used by specialists in fields like construction, surveying, and mining engineering. Let’s explore the features of this equipment and understand the differences between a theodolite and a total station.


Theodolite – An instrument used for precise angle measurements on the ground.

Total Station – A multifunctional and versatile measuring device, considered a variation of the previous instrument.


Both devices allow locating coordinates in space and setting out project reference points on the ground. To understand the difference between a theodolite and a total station, let’s consider the entire range of instruments in this category.

A simpler tool is a level, which is limited to measuring vertical angles. The theodolite goes a step further. Equipped with two axes of measurement, it allows working with horizontal angles as well. The most advanced versions are electronic devices.

The total station offers the richest functionality. With capabilities of both the above-mentioned devices, it also helps determine distances to designated objects. This significantly simplifies surveying and calculations. Operations to find linear measurements are possible due to an integrated rangefinder that operates using a laser beam.

Having a total station in your arsenal eliminates the need for complex formulas since most of these instruments automatically perform the necessary calculations. All working data is stored in the device’s memory and can be reproduced when needed. There are total station models that allow assembly from separate modules. In this case, you can always choose components for specific tasks and exclude unnecessary functions.

The difference between a theodolite and a total station lies in the fact that the equipment of the latter type allows surveying objects at much greater distances. The extensive capabilities make the total station a highly expensive piece of equipment. While a theodolite is often a mandatory tool in many cases, not everyone can afford the most advanced versions of surveying instruments. Total stations are typically used in large enterprises and companies.