How to Become a Land Surveyor

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Land surveying is a very important practice that accurately determines the positions, distances, and angles within a specific space. It is used to establish maps of land or ownership boundaries. Land surveyors use technical elements to complete accurate reports of land areas.


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What does a land surveyor do?

Land surveyors measure and map land surfaces and establish boundaries. They write land descriptions for legal documents such as leases and deeds and take measurements of construction sites. They provide data about the location, size, shape, dimension, and elevation of land and its features. They measure the distances, angles, and directions between certain points, shapes, and lines. They typically choose recognized survey reference points and determine the accurate location of specific features of the survey area using advanced equipment such as Global Positioning Systems (GPS).

Land surveyors also research records for previously determined boundaries and they examine the data to establish where the boundary lines are located. They keep record of their observations, make sure the data is accurate, and create reports, plots, and maps.

What kind of training does a land surveyor need?

Land surveyors typically need a bachelor degree in surveying or related area. Many colleges, universities, community colleges, vocational schools, and technical institutes offer programs in surveying or surveying technology. Most employers also provide on the job training. Land surveyors must regularly complete continuing education courses to stay up to date with technological advances.

All states require land surveyors to be licensed. Licensing requirements typically include passing a national and state examination. The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) usually administers the national examination. Licensing occurs in stages. After candidates pass a first examination they work for 4 years under an experienced surveyor and then take a second examination.

What are the prospects for a career as a land surveyor?

Employment of land surveyors is expected to grow much faster than average for all professions, increasing 21% from 2006 to 2016 (1). Increased demand from complete, accurate, and quick geographic information will drive job growth.

Job prospects should be favorable especially for land surveyors with advance training and extensive experience. Job openings will also occur from the need to replace land surveyors who leave the field.

How much do land surveyors make?

As of July 2009, the middle 50% of land surveyors earned annual salaries between $31,162 and $47,163. The highest 10% earned annual salaries of more than $53,620 (2).

A career as a land surveyor is a great choice for people interested in land features. Land surveyors must be able to visualize objects, abstract forms, sizes, and distances. They must be in good physical condition and be able to carry heavy objects since they often work outdoors and haul equipment. Accuracy, precision, coordination and good eyesight and hearing are essential. Land surveyors must also have great communication and interpersonal skills and be able to work as part of a team.

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