Surveyor: Land Surveying Career Education

Land surveyors require a significant amount of formal education. Learn about the education, job duties, licensure, and certification requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

To understand the importance of a competent surveyor, just consider the conflicts that come about due to land disputes. With a bachelor's degree and state licensure, you may be qualified for work as a surveyor. Certifications can be beneficial to your advancement.

Essential Information

Land surveying is a career field with job opportunities in the government and the private sector. These professionals work with disaster and relief agencies, private and industrial construction companies, and city planners. They record observations, such as major landmarks and soil composition. Becoming a land surveyor will likely require a bachelor's degree and licensure, and voluntary professional certifications may be useful to find employment or advance in the field.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in surveying engineering, geomatics, or a related field
Other Requirements State license; four levels of certification available
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 2%
Median Salary (2015)* $58,020

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Education for a Land Surveyor

Educational Requirements

Students may consider programs that are accredited by ABET, Inc., formerly the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. According to ABET, many licensing boards require applicants to have graduated from an approved program, while employers and graduate schools may prefer it.

An increasing number of surveying jobs require a bachelor's degree. Programs specific to land surveying are rare but students may consider bachelor's programs in general surveying, surveying engineering, or geomatics. During the first two years of these programs, students complete surveying prerequisites, such as calculus, earth science, physics, and technical writing, along with their general education requirements.

While the professional curricula of different majors vary, many include topics in global positioning systems, computer-aided design, and geographic information systems. These courses teach students the methods and software programs associated with each topic. Coursework in the principles of boundary law, including surveying ethics and real estate law, are also included. Lab sessions and field experience through a practicum or other requirements familiarize students with the technology they'll use on the job, such as lasers and levels.

Licensing Requirements

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that all states have licensing requirements for surveyors. Most states require individuals to pass exams administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) and gain requisite work experience

Students near graduation may take the Fundamentals of Surveying (FS) exam, which includes topics in math, science, and basic surveying principles. After passing the FS, surveyors must work for four years before they are eligible to sit for the Principles and Practice of Surveying (PS) exam. The PS tests individuals on different methods of surveying, legal principles, and surveying standards. The NCEES indicates that passing the PS typically completes professional licensure.

Continuing Education

Certifications through professional organizations may help surveyors earn promotions. The National Society of Professional Surveyors offers the Certified Surveyor Technician (CST) credential, which comes in four technical levels. Each CST level has work experience requirements and a qualifying exam.

The American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing offers certifications for surveyors who specialize in particular method, such as photogrammetry and mapping science. Similar to the CST, these certifications require work experience and passing an exam.

Career Outlook and Salary Information for Land Surveyors

According to the BLS, surveyors can expect slower-than-average job growth of two percent between 2014-2024. The BLS reported that the median annual salary for surveyors was $58,020 in May 2015.

Aspiring surveyors need to earn a bachelor's degree in the field and undergo a roughly 4-year long licensure process. Various certifications can also increase one's marketability.


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