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Become A Survey Director

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Working As A Survey Director

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

  • Outdoors/walking/standing

  • Repetitive

  • $79,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Survey Director 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.


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 Survey Director

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


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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Survey Director Typical Career Paths

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Average Yearly Salary
View Detailed Salary Report
Min 10%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Gerson Lehrman Group
Highest Paying City
Arlington, TX
Highest Paying State
North Dakota
Avg Experience Level
4.0 years
How much does a Survey Director make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Survey Director in the United States is $79,964 per year or $38 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $37,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $170,000.

Real Survey Director Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Survey Director University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI Feb 15, 2016 $104,907
Survey Director University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI Feb 15, 2013 $99,074
Survey Director University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI Feb 15, 2013 $96,657
Survey Director University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI Feb 15, 2010 $92,000
Survey Director University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI May 01, 2010 $88,500
Survey Director Bluefin Sushi of Parkland, LLC Parkland, FL Sep 08, 2015 $68,704
Survey Director KLA Holding, LLC Miami, FL Mar 20, 2015 $58,000
Survey Director Komolvasri LLC Hallandale Beach, FL Mar 20, 2015 $56,530
Survey Director D.G. Des Arts, LLC Fort Lauderdale, FL Mar 17, 2016 $56,514
Survey Director Liquid Yacht Wear Fort Lauderdale, FL Mar 23, 2016 $42,016
Survey Director Contact Tours Plantation, FL Dec 08, 2016 $42,016
Survey Director The American Language Kollege, Inc. D/B/A Talk International Fort Lauderdale, FL Dec 16, 2016 $42,016
Survey Director Seaking Inc. Davie, FL Aug 26, 2015 $41,267
Survey Director Elpar Industroes, Inc. Pompano Beach, FL Sep 22, 2015 $41,267
Survey Director Elpar Industroes, Inc. Pompano Beach, FL Mar 24, 2016 $41,267
Market Survey Director Royalty Eximport Inc. Miami, FL Aug 29, 2016 $34,882
Survey Director Massilia Inc. DBA Casimir Bistro Boca Raton, FL Apr 14, 2016 $34,133
Survey Director Fairport Inc. Fort Lauderdale, FL Apr 14, 2015 $33,654
Survey Director Watson Hegner Corporation Dallas, NC Aug 31, 2015 $33,371
Survey Director Jed Fresh LLC Sanford, FL Nov 07, 2016 $30,326
Bank Survey Director BAC Florida Bank Coral Gables, FL Jul 02, 2015 $30,000
Survey Director Saddlebrook Resorts, Inc. Wesley Chapel, FL Sep 01, 2015 $27,373
Survey Director Warren Confections Hallandale Beach, FL Feb 12, 2015 $27,061

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Top Skills for A Survey Director

  1. Property Boundaries
  2. Proposal Preparation
  3. Project Management
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Perform a variety of surveying projects from proposal preparation to delivery of the final product.
  • Provide project management for construction, residential and commercial surveying projects and small site/civil design projects.
  • Served as department manager, supervising 20 professionals conducting field surveys and computer- aided design (CAD) drafting.
  • Purchased and deployed GPS technology (Trimble-Terramodel) for field survey crews and heavy equipment machine control.
  • Reviewed and approved Boundary surveys, Topographic surveys, Condominium Surveys, Site Plan Development, and Platting.


Average Salary:

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Top 10 Best States for Survey Directors

  1. Alaska
  2. District of Columbia
  3. Washington
  4. Wyoming
  5. North Carolina
  6. Nevada
  7. New Mexico
  8. California
  9. North Dakota
  10. New York
  • (1 jobs)
  • (2 jobs)
  • (12 jobs)
  • (2 jobs)
  • (30 jobs)
  • (2 jobs)
  • (5 jobs)
  • (30 jobs)
  • (1 jobs)
  • (40 jobs)

Survey Director Demographics










Black or African American


Hispanic or Latino





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Foreign Languages Spoken



Survey Director Education


Purdue University


University of Illinois at Chicago


University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Appalachian State University


Glenville State College


Ferris State University


University of Arizona


Pasadena City College


Missouri State University


Mendocino College


California State University - Fresno


Florence-Darlington Technical College


University of Pennsylvania


North Carolina State University


King's College


University of Virginia


Indiana University Bloomington


Great Basin College


Collins College


Southeastern Louisiana University

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Surveying, Mapping, And Hydraulic Technologies


Natural Resources Management


Civil Engineering Technologies


Criminal Justice


Civil Engineering






Engineering Technology


Architectural Technology






Surveying Engineering




Drafting And Design


Ecology, Population Biology, And Epidemiology


Historic Preservation And Conservation




Entertainment Business


Intelligence Operations

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