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Surveyor Career Guide

Do you have excellent mathematical skills and strong attention to detail? Are you a good problem solver with solid communication skills? If so, a great career move for you might be to become a surveyor.

Surveyors use exacting measurements and mathematical calculations to determine exact distances and boundaries for a construction project. They provide detailed, accurate information to architects and engineers. Surveyors may also assess the feasibility of using a certain plot of land for a construction project. Surveyors need to have a good understanding of the specialized equipment used to measure land boundaries.

To succeed as a surveyor, you must be extremely accurate in performing mathematical calculations and measurements and marking boundaries precisely. You also need good research and analytical skills to extract needed information from property records, charts, maps, and other documents about the legal boundaries of land areas and plots. Surveyors should have good presentation and communication skills to present data to stakeholders on construction projects. Good working knowledge of AutoCAD and GIS programs is also essential for a surveyor. 

Sample job description

We are looking for a surveyor! [Your Company Name] is in urgent need of a new surveyor to join our company. Transportation is a must. You must be experienced in precision layout as well as have the proper certifications or prior work experience in this field. [Your Company Name] is seeking a candidate proficient with GPS devices and software, as well as a quick learner who can easily pick up any new technology integrated into the position. If you’re able to work in the field and the office and are able to stand for long periods of time, this job is for you.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Conduct physical site surveys using surveying tools and equipment
  • Develop sketches and notes for sites
  • Process and interpret field data
  • Collaborate with engineers, architects, urban planners, and more 
  • Calculate accurate specifications of land parcels, lots, and easements
  • Research and check previous survey findings
  • Prepare survey documents and results, and present to clients and colleagues

Education and experience

This position requires a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, technology, civil engineering, or a related field. Before practicing surveying in a jurisdiction, applicants must meet the requirements for licensure established by that jurisdiction.

Required skills and qualifications

  • Strong mathematics, technical, and analysis abilities
  • Knowledge of basic hand tools and surveying tools
  • Knowledge of AutoCAD, Microsoft Office Suite, and surveying software
  • Ability to remain in a standing position for extended periods
  • Possess a valid driver’s license

Preferred qualifications

  • Having ownership in the work you do
  • Using your talents to positively affect communities
  • Strong communication skills
  • Ability to contribute and work well on a team
  • Associate degree or 2 years of experience as a licensed surveyor

Typical work environment

Surveyors will often be required to work in good and bad weather alike. The position requires the ability to stand and sit for long periods of time depending on the task since surveying requires both field and office work. A surveyor must be able to stand for long amounts of time and walk to multiple locations not accessible by car. Surveyors are responsible for charting, tracking, and measuring positions accurately in order to assess accurate property lines. A surveyor must specialize in GPS equipment as well as other instruments. Oftentimes, surveyors will survey for title work or topographic maps.

Typical hours

The typical work hours for a surveyor are from 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday, both in an office setting and in the field. When working outside, surveyors may need to stand for long periods or walk relatively long distances. 

Available certifications

A company hiring a surveyor will oftentimes look for specific certifications which relate to the job, like the following:

  • Land Surveying and Geomatics Certification (LSGC) Program. The Land Surveying and Geomatics Certification is a premier certification that defines a group of courses offered in order to apply for licensure as a surveyor. These courses will cover the basics of surveying as well as the advanced information required to gain licensure.
  • EIT/LSIT Certification. The LSIT certification is a good certification for a land surveyor or engineer training. This certification is a beginner-based certification but easily has applicable information and training for a land surveyor.
  • Survey Markers and Monumentation. This course and certificate are extremely beneficial in learning the aspects of marking and monumentation which are required for a surveying position.

Career path

Becoming a surveyor typically requires a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, technology, civil engineering, or a related field. Also, every surveyor must be licensed to work in any state they wish to work. Licensure can include a college degree from an Accreditation Board for Technology (ABET)-accredited program, passing multiple exams, and several years of work experience. 

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 17-1022

2020 Employment46,000
Projected Employment in 203046,700
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 2% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift700 increase

With the increase in the housing market and people constantly developing on new land, surveyors are going to remain a popular job. Though in the next 10 years, it will grow slower than average, it’s not losing any positions, which is a good sign.