Curricula in 2-year associate and 4-year bachelor's degree programs in survey engineering focus largely on mathematics, computer charting and GPS systems. Learning generally takes place through laboratory experiences and seminars as well as classroom instruction. Individuals who choose survey engineering careers might require state licensing, and they can pursue voluntary certifications.
Associate Degree in Survey Engineering
Common survey engineering associate degree programs are an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Surveying Technology or AAS in Surveying Engineering Technology. Graduates should be able to demonstrate proficiencies in technical assignments, execute survey techniques and conduct basic research. A minimum of a high school education is typically required to enroll in an associate degree program.
The syllabus offers students the opportunity to understand and become proficient in hydrology, macroeconomics, photogrammetry and topographic studies. General courses may include English, literature and physical science; other topics might include:
- Algebra, calculus or trigonometry
- Basics of mapping
- Computer charting and plotting
- Detecting distances
- Lawful facets of surveying
Bachelor's Degree in Surveying Engineering
Typical bachelor's degrees in surveying engineering are a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Surveying Engineering or a B.S. in Surveying Engineering Technology. Bachelor's degree programs offer field studies and exercises using various types of visual and electrical equipment to assess and compute heights, depths and positions. Students learn about both ground and aerial surveying methods. Students should already possess their high school diploma or equivalent to enroll.
Curriculum might include learning about Global Positioning System (GPS) systems and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Students discover how to gather, examine and understand facts and figures when applying surveying engineering; other studies might include:
- Engineering plans and visual aids
- Environments and geodetic surveying
- Managing systems in mapping forecasts
- Measurement examinations
- Procedures in large-scale charting
- Surveying of regions
Popular Career Options
Graduates of associate degree programs in survey engineering can find entry-level positions performing tasks such as establishing boundaries, surveying for utility lines, surveying specific regions and working with geographic information systems (GIS). Employers might include engineering consultants, survey companies or utility businesses; some positions might include:
- Field technician
- GPS surveyor
- Instrument person
- Mapping technologist
- Surveying engineering technologist
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Bachelor's degree graduates are prepared to enter various career paths in surveying. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), employment for surveying and mapping technicians is projected to decline by 5% between 2018 and 2028, while surveyors could expect a 6% increase in employment. The BLS also reports that in May 2018, the median annual salary for surveyors was $62,580 per year. Surveying and mapping technicians earned a median annual salary of $44,380, and cartographers and photogrammetrists earned an annual median salary of $68,340.
Surveying technicians can seek voluntary certification through the National Society of Professional Surveyors. Four levels of certification are available; technicians must pass a written exam and demonstrate experience. According the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, certification can be important for technicians to be promoted to advanced jobs.
Surveyors are required to be licensed in all states within the U.S., but individual state requirements may vary. Generally, requirements include completion of training and education, achieving passing scores through a sequence of written examinations, four years of experience through supervised training and completion of a written exam issued by the applicable state's licensing department.
An associate degree in survey engineering technology prepares students for jobs as surveying technicians and technologists, while a bachelor's degree in this field helps students qualify for professional state licensure exams, enabling them to work as surveyors. However, job prospects are not expected to be particularly strong for either of these positions over the next several years.