Income and benefits
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for surveyors was $63,420 in 2019. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $36,110, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $104,850. The top paying industries were the government, with a median annual salary of $73,220. This is followed by mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction ($65,640), construction ($65,060), and architectural, engineering and related services ($61,640).
Autonomy and Flexibility
The level of autonomy and flexibility for a surveyor will vary depending on how much experience and knowledge they have acquired. For example, a surveyor in an entry level position will have far less control over their decisions than a licensed surveyor with 20 years experience. Similarly, autonomy and flexibility will vary depending on the type and size of the organization a survey works for: surveyors in small, private companies are likely to have more control and flexibility than those who work as part of larger, state run companies.
Locations and commute
The demand for traditional surveying services is closely tied to construction activity. Therefore, job opportunities will vary by geographic region and often depend on local economic conditions. When real estate sales and other construction activity slow down, surveyors may face greater competition for jobs. According to Zippia, the best states to be an surveyor, based on average annual salary and number of job opportunities, are:
- Alaska, where the average annual salary is $86,472
- West Virginia, where the average annual salary is $72,970
- Montana, where the average annual salary is $72,905
- Maine, where the average annual salary is $77,374
- Ohio, where the average annual salary is $72,957
The worst states, according to Zippia, are Georgia, Virginia, Minnesota, Alabama and Arizona.
The largest employers of surveyors in the United States was architectural, engineering and related services, which hired 69% of all architects. 10% of architects in the United States are employed by the government, 7% work for the construction industry, 5% are self-employed and 2% work for the mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction industry.
As a surveyor, you’ll typically split your time between working at an office and at remote locations. When working at remote locations (called ‘field work’), you’ll be working outdoors in all types of weather, walking long distances and standing for extended periods of time. You may also have to climb hills with heavy surveying equipment. Surveyors may have to visit numerous sites, which means that travelling can take up a significant amount of their day.