How to Become a Certified Surveyor: Certification and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a certified surveyor. Research the education requirements, training, licensure information, and experience required for starting a career in surveying. View article »

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  • 0:03 Certified Surveyor Career Info
  • 0:57 Get Education
  • 1:49 Obtain Licensure
  • 2:45 Continue Learning

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Certified Surveyor Career Info

Surveyors measure and map land, water, and airspace for official purposes. Their work is used in a variety of ways, including legal documents and land boundary assessment, as well as for determining the boundaries of construction projects.

Surveyors work on a full-time basis, although some overtime may be required when the workload demands. A lot of travel is associated with this career and may include local, long-distance, and long-term travel. The job requires time spent in an office setting as well as in the field.

Professional surveyors must be detail-oriented and proficient with specialized tools and technologies. They must also have mathematics, communication, and time management skills. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, surveyors earned a median annual pay of $58,020 in 2015.

Degree Level Certificate or associate's degree; bachelor's degree beneficial
Degree Field(s) Surveying, surveying engineering, surveying technology, or related field
Licensure and/or Certification Licensure required; voluntary certification available
Experience None (entry-level)
Key Skills Detail-oriented; mathematics, communication, and time management skills; proficiency with specialized tools and technologies; physical stamina
Median Salary (2015)* $58,020

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*Net OnLine

Get Education

Technical schools and community colleges offer entry-level training for those interested in careers as surveyors. Certificate and associate's degree programs offer hands-on instruction in surveying basics, including project definitions, environmental factors, CAD software, and field work. Certificate programs are often in pass/fail format that relies on strong student competency, while associate's programs are typically grade-based and take about two years to complete.

Many surveyors enter this job field with a bachelor's degree in surveying, surveying engineering, or surveying technology. Programs are available at a number of colleges and universities. Students focus on the fundamentals and principles of surveying, terrain mapping, and data collection, as well as completing advanced coursework in mathematics and geography.

Obtain Licensure

Every state requires surveyors to obtain licensing. Each state has different requirements, but most follow the guidelines set by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying. Licensing typically requires attaining the state's minimum educational requirement, experience working in surveying, and passing examinations on surveying fundamentals and surveying practices. Requirements to renew licensure vary from state to state. Verifying these requirements and being prepared for renewal can help an individual maintain licensure with no lapses.

Professionals in the surveying profession can achieve Certified Survey Technician (CST) status through the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS). The NSPS offers four levels of certification depending on the length of work experience, and each level requires passing a skills-assessment examination.

Continue Learning

GPS and geospatial technologies have transformed the surveyor's profession. Programs such as Google Earth have made the traditional work of a surveyor widely available to the public. To keep and advance a career as a surveyor, take continuing or postsecondary education courses in data management and analysis, advanced mathematics, or natural resource management.

Again, aspiring surveyors who seek certification should first complete an educational program such as a bachelor's degree, get licensure in their state, and then seek certification in the field.

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