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Become A Land Surveyor

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Working As A Land Surveyor

  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Getting Information
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Processing Information
  • Deal with People

  • Outdoors/walking/standing

  • Repetitive

  • $58,650

    Average Salary

What Does A Land Surveyor Do

Surveyors make precise measurements to determine property boundaries. They provide data relevant to the shape and contour of the Earth’s surface for engineering, mapmaking, and construction projects.

Duties

Surveyors typically do the following:

  • Measure distances and angles between points on, above, and below the Earth’s surface
  • Travel to locations and use known reference points to determine the exact location of important features
  • Research land records, survey records, and land titles
  • Look for evidence of previous boundaries to determine where boundary lines are located
  • Record the results of surveying and verify the accuracy of data
  • Prepare plots, maps, and reports
  • Present findings to clients and government agencies
  • Establish official land and water boundaries for deeds, leases, and other legal documents and testify in court regarding survey work

Surveyors provide documentation of legal property lines and help determine the exact locations of real estate and construction projects. For example, when a house or commercial building is bought or sold, it may need to be surveyed to prevent boundary disputes. During construction, surveyors determine the precise location of roads or buildings and proper depths for building foundations. The survey also shows changes to the property line and indicates potential restrictions on the property, such as what can be built on it and how large the structure can be.

When taking measurements in the field, surveyors make use of the Global Positioning System (GPS), a system of satellites that locates reference points with a high degree of precision. Surveyors use handheld GPS units and robotic total stations to collect relevant information about the terrain they are surveying. (Robotic total stations use laser systems and GPS to automatically calculate distances between boundaries and geological features of the survey area.) Data is then loaded into a computer, where surveyors interpret and verify the results.

Surveyors also use Geographic Information Systems (GIS)—technology that allows surveyors to present spatial information visually as maps, reports, and charts. For example, a surveyor can overlay aerial or satellite images with GIS data, such as tree density in a given region, and create digital maps. They then use the results to advise governments and businesses on where to plan homes, roads, and landfills.

Although advances in surveying technology now allow many jobs to be performed by just one surveyor, they also may work with the help of a crew. The crew may consist of a licensed surveyor and trained survey technicians. The person in charge of the crew, known as the party chief, may be either a surveyor or a senior surveying technician. The party chief leads day-to-day work activities.

Surveyors may be involved in settling boundary disputes. When property is sold or new construction takes place, such as the building of a fence, issues may arise because of outdated records or the misinterpretation of available records. A surveyor can be called in to settle the dispute, and may provide testimony in court if the involved parties do not come to an agreement.

Surveyors also work with civil engineers, landscape architects, and urban and regional planners to develop comprehensive design documents.

Some surveyors work in specialty fields to survey particular characteristics of the Earth.

The following are two types of surveyors:

Geodetic surveyors use high-accuracy technology, including aerial and satellite observations, to measure large areas of the Earth’s surface.

Marine or hydrographic surveyors survey harbors, rivers, and other bodies of water to determine shorelines, the topography of the floor, water depth, and other features.

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How To Become A Land Surveyor

Surveyors typically need a bachelor’s degree. They must be licensed before they can certify legal documents and provide surveying services to the public.

Education

Surveyors typically need a bachelor’s degree because they work with sophisticated technology and math. Some colleges and universities offer bachelor’s degree programs specifically designed to prepare students to become licensed surveyors. A bachelor’s degree in a closely related field, such as civil engineering or forestry, is sometimes acceptable as well.

Many states require individuals who want to become licensed surveyors to have a bachelor’s degree from a school accredited by ABET and approximately 4 years of work experience under a licensed surveyor. In other states, an associate’s degree in surveying, coupled with more years of work experience under a licensed surveyor, may be sufficient. Most states also have continuing education requirements.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Candidates with significant work experience as a survey technician can become licensed surveyors. To receive credit for this experience, candidates must work under a licensed surveyor. Many surveying technicians become licensed surveyors after working for as many as 10 years in the field of surveying. The amount of work experience required varies by state.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

All 50 states and the District of Columbia require surveyors to be licensed before they can certify legal documents that show property lines or determine proper markings on construction projects. Candidates with a bachelor’s degree must usually work for several years under the direction of a licensed surveyor in order to qualify for licensure.

Although the process of obtaining a license varies by state, the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying has a generalized process of four steps:

      • Complete the level of education required in your state
      • Pass the Fundamentals of Surveying (FS) exam
      • Gain sufficient work experience under a licensed surveyor
      • Pass the Principles and Practice of Surveying (PS) exam
Important Qualities

Communication skills. Surveyors must provide clear instructions to team members, clients, and government officials. They also must be able to receive instructions from architects and construction managers, and explain the job’s progress to developers, lawyers, financiers, and government authorities.

Detail oriented. Surveyors must work with precision and accuracy because they produce legally binding documents.

Physical stamina. Surveyors traditionally work outdoors, often in rugged terrain. They must be able to walk long distances for long periods.

Problem-solving skills. Surveyors must figure out discrepancies between documents showing property lines and current conditions on the land. If there were changes in previous years, they must discover the reason behind them and reestablish property lines.

Time-management skills. Surveyors must be able to effectively plan their time and their team members’ time on the job. This is critical when pressing deadlines exist or while working outside during winter months when daylight hours are short.

Visualization skills. Surveyors must be able to envision new buildings and altered terrain.

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Land Surveyor Demographics

Gender

Male

91.6%

Female

7.0%

Unknown

1.4%
Ethnicity

White

78.8%

Hispanic or Latino

11.4%

Asian

6.5%

Unknown

2.7%

Black or African American

0.6%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

63.9%

French

4.2%

Swahili

2.8%

Russian

2.8%

Ukrainian

2.8%

German

2.8%

Dakota

2.8%

Arabic

2.8%

Portuguese

1.4%

Chinese

1.4%

Mandarin

1.4%

Bosnian

1.4%

Cantonese

1.4%

Japanese

1.4%

Hakka

1.4%

Amharic

1.4%

Urdu

1.4%

Korean

1.4%

Croatian

1.4%
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Land Surveyor Education

Schools

University of Puerto Rico - Mayaguez

11.3%

University of Phoenix

11.3%

Texas A&M University

5.7%

Mississippi State University

5.7%

Illinois State University

4.7%

University of Maine

4.7%

University of Kentucky

4.7%

Community College of the Air Force

4.7%

Smith College

4.7%

University of Louisiana at Lafayette

4.7%

University of North Dakota

3.8%

Oregon Institute of Technology

3.8%

East Tennessee State University

3.8%

Ferris State University

3.8%

Montgomery College

3.8%

University of Massachusetts - Lowell

3.8%

Texas State University

3.8%

University of Southern Mississippi

3.8%

James Madison University

3.8%

Old Dominion University

3.8%
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Majors

Civil Engineering

13.7%

Business

12.4%

Natural Resources Management

10.6%

Surveying, Mapping, And Hydraulic Technologies

10.6%

Engineering

7.3%

General Studies

4.9%

Geography

4.7%

Drafting And Design

4.4%

Geology

3.6%

Civil Engineering Technologies

3.5%

Electrical Engineering

3.3%

Mechanical Engineering

3.1%

Computer Science

2.9%

Criminal Justice

2.9%

Mathematics

2.6%

English

2.0%

Forestry

2.0%

Fine Arts

1.8%

Environmental Science

1.8%

Communication

1.8%
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Degrees

Bachelors

40.0%

Other

28.4%

Associate

15.7%

Masters

6.6%

Certificate

4.8%

Diploma

2.7%

Doctorate

1.2%

License

0.5%
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Real Land Surveyor Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Land Surveyor The Culver Group, Inc. Concord, CA Mar 01, 2013 $84,323
Land Surveyor The Culver Group, Inc. Concord, CA Nov 27, 2012 $84,323
Offshore/Land Surveyor Bateman Civil Survey Company, PC Jun 01, 2014 $70,928
Land Surveyor Peiser Surveying Company Grapevine, TX Sep 02, 2009 $68,328
Land Surveyor Peiser Surveying Company Grapevine, TX Sep 08, 2009 $68,328
Land Surveyor Ciorba Group, Inc. Chicago, IL Apr 29, 2011 $63,648
Land Surveyor Supervisor Geometrics GPS, Inc. Fredericksburg, VA Sep 27, 2013 $62,610
Land Surveyor Supervisor Geometrics GPS, Inc. Fredericksburg, VA Sep 27, 2010 $62,610
Offshore/Land Surveyor Bateman Civil Survey Company, PC Apr 01, 2014 $55,000 -
$60,000
Land Surveyor BDS Technologies, Inc. Dallas, TX Nov 30, 2012 $54,262
Land Surveyor BDS Technologies, Inc. Dallas, TX Dec 01, 2009 $54,262
Manager/Land Surveyor Exploration Geodesy, Inc. Little Rock, AR Jan 31, 2008 $50,000

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Top Skills for A Land Surveyor

GPSTopographicSurveysTotalStationConstructionLayoutPropertyLinesSurveyDataStakeAs-BuiltSurveysAutoCADSurveyCrewDataCollectionPropertyCornersLegalDescriptionsLeicaRoboticPropertyBoundariesTopconBoundarySurveysSurveyEquipmentConstructionProjects

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  1. GPS
  2. Topographic Surveys
  3. Total Station
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Work with global positioning systems (GPS).
  • Hand drawing topography converting coordinates using AutoCAD Performing topographic surveys, boundary surveys and constructing staking.
  • Utilized GPS and Total Stations in construction of roads, water towers, buildings, and pipeline construction.
  • Surveyed boundary, construction layout, industrial equipment location, and lot surveys.
  • Included setting property lines for 60 acquisition maps, and preparation of same.

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Top Land Surveyor Employers

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Land Surveyor Videos

Land Survey

Your Career as a Land Surveyor

Career Land Surveyor: No curve ever measured - Flat Earth SW22