Land Surveying College and School Program Overviews

Students interested in learning about land surveying can enroll in programs that award either certificates, associate's degrees or bachelor's degrees.

Essential Information

Students in land surveying programs learn to gather and record information about different types of geographic formations. Common prerequisites vary, but a high school diploma or GED is often required for associate's and bachelor's degree programs. Strong skills in trigonometry, geometry, geography and geology are also recommended.

Most programs have an extensive technology component, with a focus on geographic information systems software and related software programs. Students can also expect to undertake land surveying projects and equipment training at surveying school. Graduates from these programs can work as land surveying assistants, land surveyors and GIS specialists, among other positions.

Certificate Programs in Land Surveying

Certificate programs in land surveying cover the ways that people measure and record land formations. Programs provide classroom instruction on the methods and theories behind geographic data gathering, helping students understand how this data is used for map-making and zoning. Students also gain practical experience using surveying equipment.

The coursework in land surveying certificate programs emphasizes practical skills used to gather geographic data. Students learn about the manual equipment used to measure land and also about the computer software used to store and organize geographic information. The topics below are usually covered:

  • Land surveying methods
  • Surveying in engineering design
  • Surveying mathematics
  • Surveying ethics
  • Computer-aided drafting (CAD) in surveying

Associate's Degree Programs in Land Surveying

Associate of Applied Science (AAS) programs in land surveying include extensive coursework in mathematics in addition to classes on surveying methodology. This mathematics training helps students apply the geographic data they gather to solve practical issues in city planning, zoning and construction. Students learn to operate Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and other types of computer software.

Land surveying AAS program coursework teaches students to gather and apply data about geographic formations. Students learn about CAD programs, GIS analysis and other technology used in surveying. Programs offer classes on the subjects below:

  • Surveying drafting
  • Trigonometry in surveying
  • Civil drafting
  • GIS
  • Applications of land surveying

Bachelor's Degree Programs in Land Surveying

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( reports that most land surveyors hold a bachelor's degree. Bachelor of Science (B.S.) programs in land surveying emphasize scientific and mathematics topics in addition to surveying methods and technology. Students learn to measure a variety of land formations, including valleys, mountains, plains and forests.

Some land surveying B.S. programs allow students to specialize in boundary surveying, image analysis or GIS. Lectures cover the subjects in the following list:

  • Map compilation
  • Photogrammetry
  • Engineering design surveys
  • Topographical drafting
  • Determining boundaries

Popular Career Options

People who enter the workforce after earning a land surveying certificate often work for local governments, construction companies or private surveying organizations. Graduates often enter the careers noted below:

  • Land surveying assistant
  • Cartographer's assistant
  • Land surveying technician

Completing an AAS program in land surveying qualifies graduates for a number of careers in the discipline. Graduates can find entry-level jobs in the public and private sectors. The careers listed below are popular options:

  • Land surveyor
  • GIS analysis assistant
  • CAD operator

Graduates typically find work as field engineers for general contractors, transportation companies and government agencies. Jobs available to B.S. program graduates include those listed below:

  • Land surveying consultant
  • Land use specialist
  • City zoning consultant

Continuing Education Information

Each state requires land surveyors to earn a license by passing written exams offered from the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES); individual state licensing boards may have additional testing requirements. Most states also require new surveyors to work under supervision before they can work independently.

For students looking to apply to land surveying colleges, certificate, associate's and bachelor's degree programs are available. In general, these programs cover drafting, surveying tools and math in the surveying field. Graduates may pursue careers as a land surveying technician, a GIS analysis assistant or a city zoning consultant, to name a few.

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