Land Surveyor Career Info, Job Duties and Employment Options

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.

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Land surveyors play an important role in defining geographic boundaries for private, business and government use. A bachelor's degree in a related field and a state license are the basics required to become a land surveyor.

Essential Information

Land surveyors use special equipment to measure and mark property boundaries. They need a degree in surveying, civil engineering or a related field from an accredited program. All states require that surveyors hold a license, which requires a degree, experience and examinations.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in surveying or other relevant field
License State license required
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 6% (for surveyors)
Median Salary (2018)* $62,580 (for surveyors)

Source: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Job Duties of a Land Surveyor

Surveyors establish legal and official land, airspace, and water boundaries. Land surveyors use technically complex equipment to accurately measure the shape, contour, location, elevation and dimension of land or land features. Deeds, leases and other legal documents depend upon accurate surveys to determine such boundaries.

Land surveying is also essential for writing descriptions of land and property for private owners, corporations, municipalities and other government bodies. Land surveyors research and utilize historical and legal documents that can aid in defining land features or boundaries.

Educational and Licensing Requirements

A bachelor's degree in surveying, civil engineering, forestry or a similar field is required for most land surveying positions. Most states require that the school hold accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. All U.S. states and territories require land surveyors to be licensed. State boards and the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) have written examinations.

After completion of a degree program, prospective surveyors generally take the Fundamentals of Surveying (FS) exam. Graduates then need to work under a licensed surveyor for approximately four years before taking the Principles and Practice of Surveying (PS) exam to qualify for licensure (www.ncees.org). Continuing education is also a requirement for land surveyors in many states.

Career Information and Employment Options

There are many career avenues for land surveyors to pursue. Construction surveyors work with architects and other engineers on building projects. Boundary surveyors concentrate on determining boundaries in reference to property ownership. Topographic or hydrologic surveyors typically measure land located underwater.

More specialized careers include geodesists who utilize the earth's size and shape to locate specific points on the surface and GIS analysts who work with software programs to electronically map locations around the globe. Surveyors with many years of expertise may serve as expert witnesses in court cases and other legal matters.

Land surveyors establish boundaries that can be used in legal documents of different types. They use specialized equipment as well as historical documents to complete their work. After earning a bachelor's degree, land surveyors need to gain licensure by passing the Principles and Practice of Surveying exam after working under a licensed land surveyor for four years.

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