Land Surveyor: Thinking of Entering the Land Surveying Career Field?

Sep 12, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a land surveyor. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

At the very least, you'll need to earn a bachelor's degree and pass two national exams, separated by a period of supervised field work, in order to be licensed as a surveyor. Learn more about working conditions, salary and job growth expectations in this field.

Essential Information

Land surveyors work with government and private agencies to determine official land boundaries. They typically work outdoors for long periods of time, using global positioning system receivers, computers and specialized equipment to gather precise location data. They analyze the data, prepare reports, create maps and verify the work of others for accuracy. These professionals usually earn a bachelor's degree in surveying, geography or a related field. After graduating, aspiring land surveyors need to obtain state licensure, which involves passing exams offered by professional organizations and possibly also by their state.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in surveying, geography or similar field
Licensure State licensure
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 6% for surveyors
Median Salary (2018)* $62,580 annually for surveyors

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Land Surveyor Educational Requirements

Land surveyors typically must hold at least bachelor's degrees in related fields, such as surveying, geography or cartography. Surveying program courses typically cover subjects such as geographical information systems, legal issues in surveying, photogrammetry, geodetics, remote sensing and cartography. Students learn to use technologically advanced equipment, and some schools provide fieldwork or internship opportunities.

Licensing Requirements for Land Surveyors

Land surveyors must become licensed, a process that begins with completion of a formal training program. Near graduation, candidates may sit for the Fundamentals of Surveying (FS) exam administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). The FS exam covers a wide variety of subjects, such as math, survey calculation, data acquisition and equipment use. Candidates must then gain four years of supervised surveying experience before sitting for the Principles and Practice of Surveying (PS) exam, which covers topics like boundary laws, mapping, calculations and field procedures. The licensure process may also entail passage of additional, state-specific exams.

Career Outlook and Salary Information for Land Surveyors

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that employment opportunities for land surveyors would increase 6% between 2018 and 2028 The median annual salary for land surveyors was $62,580 in 2018. The highest-paying industry was the natural gas distribution, which paid a mean annual wage of $91,940.

With a projected decline of 6% for the foreseeable future in the number positions available, prospects for a career as a surveyor don't look too promising. Licensure is required in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Once you earn a bachelor's degree in surveying or a related field, you'll need to sit for the FS exam, serve a 4-year period of supervised field work, sit for the PS exam and then sit for whatever licensure requirements may be imposed by your state.

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