Become an Engineering Surveyor: Education and Career Roadmap

Mar 11, 2020

Find out how to become an engineering surveyor. Research the education requirements and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in surveying engineering.

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Become an Engineering Surveyor

Engineering surveyors measure land, water, or airspace and use the data to create maps and establish property boundaries. They use GPS and software to develop and design maps for the mining, construction, and airspace industries. While completing surveys, such workers are exposed to all weather conditions and construction zones near roads and highways, as well as on undeveloped land. Surveyors must wear brightly colored clothing, helmets, and other protective gear to keep them safe. Much traveling is demanded of surveyors, and long-distance projects may require them to stay away from home for long periods of time.

Engineering surveyors need visualization, technical, problem-solving, time-management, and communication skills along with attention to detail, physical stamina, and the ability to use mapping technology. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that surveyors in general made an average annual salary of $66,440 as of May 2018. Let's find out how you can become an engineering surveyor.

Career Requirements at a Glance

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Field Surveying technology, civil engineering, or a related field
Experience At least 2 years' experience required for licensure
Licensure/Certification All states require licensure; voluntary certifications available
Key Skills Visualization, technical, problem-solving, time-management, and communication skills; attention to detail; physical stamina; ability to use mapping technology
Average Salary (2018) $66,440 (for all surveyors)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Engineering surveyors typically need a 4-year degree in surveying technology, civil engineering, or a related field. Coursework for surveying programs typically include geodesy, photogrammetry, plane surveying, and surveying computations. Some schools offer specializations in surveying, such as cartography and photogrammetry. For licensing purposes, several states require that surveyors complete a degree program that's been accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

Success Tip:

Gain experience in an internship. Many schools offer internship programs that provide students with valuable real-world experience. These programs familiarize students with surveying and provide them with a chance to apply their skills in real-world settings.

Step 2: Take the Fundamentals of Surveying (FS) Exam

The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) offers the FS exam to students who are nearing the end of their degree program. Passing this exam allows students to work under the supervision of a licensed surveyor.

Step 3: Gain Work Experience

Graduates who have passed the FS exam can seek an entry-level position through a variety of surveying and engineering firms. Such positions might include duties like operating equipment and instruments, logging data, and preparing reports under the direction of a licensed surveyor. Employers prefer candidates who have completed an internship or other hands-on experience.

Step 4: Get Licensed

All states require that surveyors pass the Principles and Practice of Surveying (PS) exam through the NCEES or state licensing board to become licensed. This is the last step in becoming a licensed surveyor. Candidates with a bachelor's degree and at least two years of experience under a licensed surveyor who have passed the FS exam are eligible to sit for the PS exam. Licensed surveyors have more career options and the freedom to work independently or with a firm.

Step 5: Get Certified

Engineering surveyors can become Certified Survey Technicians (CSTs) through the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS). This certification can distinguish candidates in the job market and help with career advancement. There are four levels of certification based on minimum years of work experience, and each level requires passing scores on a written exam.

In summary, to become an engineering surveyor you need to earn a bachelor's degree in surveying technology, civil engineering, or a related field; gain experience under a licensed surveyor; and pass the Fundamentals of Surveying (FS) and Principles and Practice of Surveying (PS) exams to gain state licensure.

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