How to Become a Surveyor

Three Parts:Understanding the RoleReceiving the Necessary Education and LicensingFinding a Surveyor Position

Land surveyors are crucial to the land development industry, as they are responsible for making precise measurements to help mark property boundaries. Surveyors also provide data on the shape and contour of the Earth’s surface using boundary surveys, topographic mapping, and construction staking. This data can then be used by engineers, cartographers (or map makers), and construction companies.[1] To become a surveyor, you will need to understand the expectations of the role, receive the necessary education and training, and work hard to land a surveyor position.

Part 1
Understanding the Role

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    Prepare to fill the expectations of the role. As a surveyor, you will be responsible for visiting sites for the purposes of mapping and measuring them. You will use stakes, flags, and other markers, as well as special measuring equipment. Once you have collected the data, you will then punch the information into a computer. This information can then be accessed by cartographers, engineers, and construction companies.[2]
    • As a surveyor, you are part of a larger process and your primary role is to collect geographic data that will be utilized by other experts in the field. You will also need to have excellent math skills and be confident with recording data with accuracy and clarity. You should be able to clearly see distance and size in a landscape.
    • You will often be working with other surveyors or in a team, so you also need to be able to work and communicate effectively with others.
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    Get familiar with the work environment and the pay scale. Surveying is a primarily an outdoor job and requires lots of time spent navigating outdoor environments. This means you will need to be prepared for adverse or harsh weather conditions and lots of walking and standing for extended periods of time. You will also need to carry heavy equipment through rough weather and terrain.[3]
    • Occasionally, you may need to travel quite a far distance and stay overnight to access certain sites. However, you can also be an office-surveyor, where you spend more time in the office preparing incoming data from surveyors in the field.[4]
    • The pay scale for surveyors averages $57,000 a year or $27 an hour. Most surveyors are paid a stable salary wage for their work and receive employee benefits, especially if they work with a large surveying firm. A complete list of average salary for surveyors by state can be found here:
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    Keep in mind the high demand for land surveyors. Surveying is expected to grow by 10% in the next 10 years, and is considered an in demand career. Many surveyors work for private engineering or mapping companies, as well as state and local government agencies.[5]
    • This also means that job opportunities in surveying will continue to grow as there will be a continued need for construction surveying and engineering surveying as the country’s infrastructure continues to expand and grow.

Part 2
Receiving the Necessary Education and Licensing

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    Earn your high school diploma. To be a surveyor, you must earn your high school diploma or GED equivalent. Though some surveying companies only require a high school diploma, many companies are starting to look for candidates that also have additional training in survey technology and geography as well.[6]
    • If you enjoyed geometry and trigonometry in high school, land surveying may be right for you. You should also take courses in algebra, drafting, computer aided drafting (CAD), and geography in high school to better prepare for the surveyor role.[7]
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    Get a bachelor’s degree in surveying, mapping, or geomatics. Due to the growing technical nature of surveying, many employers now require a bachelor’s degree in surveying, mapping, or geomatics. These degree programs often include courses in calculus, geographic information systems (GIS), and cartography.[8]
    • Some states may also require you to complete a degree program that is approved by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).
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    Become a licensed surveyor in your state. Depending on what state you are planning to work in as a surveyor, you may or may not need to get a license to become a surveyor. However, no matter what state you plan to work in, you will need to take the Fundamentals of Surveying exam, which is administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES).[9]
    • Once you pass this test, you can begin hands on training under the supervision of a licensed surveyor. This hands on training usually lasts about two years.
    • After you have completed the required work experience, you can take the Principles and Practice of Surveying exam, also administered by the NCEES. Some states may also require you to take a state licensing board exam and continuing education courses to maintain your license in the state.

Part 3
Finding a Surveyor Position

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    Spend a summer as an intern at a surveyor company. To gain more hands on experience, you may want to consider doing an internship during the summer with a surveyor company while you are still in school. Working with a survey crew every day will allow you to get a better sense of the expectations of the role and make connections with individuals in the field.
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    Join a surveyor association or organization. There are several professional societies that focus on building the careers of its members and promoting new survey methods, including the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS) and the Imaging and Geospatial Information Society (ASPRS). These surveyor associations can be great opportunities for networking, connecting, and learning more about the profession.[10]
    • More information on the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS) can be found on their website. More information on the Imaging and Geospatial Information Society (ASPRS) can be found on their website.
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    Apply for entry-level surveyor positions. If you are fresh out of school, you may want to start by applying for entry-level surveyor positions with surveyor companies in your area or state. Look for surveyor companies that work in an industry you are interested in getting involved with and that have a strong sense of mentorship and learning. You will be working closely with more experienced surveyors and this can be a good learning opportunity as you progress in your career.[11]
    • You should prepare a resume that lists your key skills and your education as well any relevant hands on experience you have. You should also note if you belong to any surveyor associations, as this will show you are active in the community and are interested in expanding your knowledge of the field.
    • In your job interviews, you should highlight your key skills like your strong math and science skills, you ability to process surveyor data and your ability to work well in groups or with a team. It's important that you display confidence in your knowledge of the position but that you also indicate you are opening to learning and expanding your existing skills.

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Categories: Architecture and Design Occupations