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Surveyor Career Guide

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Overview

Ever marvel at the seamless connections among shopping centers, highways, and public transit stations? Transit stops are placed along roads and are at convenient distances from strip malls where passengers both work and shop. This level of interconnection wouldn?t be possible without surveyors. Surveyors take measurements that help to establish boundary lines for public and private property. They use Geographic Information Systems software to generate maps that show exactly where the shopping mall ends and the city street begins.

What Makes the Surveyor Career Field Special?

Surveyors shape the way communities live, work, and play. The career field is broad and includes positions such as environmental, infrastructure, and land surveyors. People who enter this career field are on the cutting edge of community development. As a surveyor, you might work on a project that creates sustainable, smart cities, or you may be asked to work on a team that builds housing to combat homelessness. The surveyor career field gives you the opportunity to make the neighborhoods in your region safer, healthier, and more efficient for everyone.

A Day in the Life of a Surveyor

While some surveyors work for private companies, most are employed with local governments. As a surveyor, you?ll split your time between working at an office and at remote locations. At the office, you?ll research land records, survey reports, and maps to determine previous boundaries. You?ll travel between work sites and use special gear to take measurements of distances and other land features. After returning to the office, you?ll document updated boundaries and prepare reports for senior leaders, clients, and stakeholders.

Pros and Cons of the Surveyor Career Field

Some of the advantages of working as a surveyor are job variety, workplace camaraderie, and competitive pay and benefits. Your city may send you out to perform survey duties at a park, a beach, or a busy street corner. If you work for a private company, you may be tasked to create maps for a new football stadium or skyscraper. You?ll also work with some bright people such as architects, urban planners, and safety experts. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for surveyors is good, and it?s closely linked to construction activities in regional areas.

The surveyor career field isn?t for wimps. Surveyors work in all types of weather to get the measurements that they need to do their jobs. If you become a surveyor, you?ll likely stand for extended periods of time in cold, damp, or hot weather. You can generally put your business suits away and don denim, a hard hat, and a neon-colored safety vest when working in the field.

Traits of a Good Surveyor

As a good surveyor, you must be willing to learn about new technologies that improve job efficiency and deliver more accurate results. If you?re detail oriented and can work equally well autonomously and in groups, you should consider the surveyor career field.

Becoming a Surveyor

If you want to become a surveyor, you?ll need to sharpen your quantitative skills. Most surveyor jobs require a four-year degree in an engineering-centric program that?s accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Upon graduation, you?ll want to pass the Fundamentals of Surveying exam that?s administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES).

Successful completion of the Fundamentals of Surveying exam is your passport into an entry-level position as a survey technician. You?ll want to gain experience and training by working under the supervision of a licensed surveyor before taking the NCEES Principles and Practice of Surveying exam.

Upon completion of the NCEES exams and getting years of work experience, you?ll need to take a state-administered exam to become a licensed surveyor in your state. With this license, you?ll be able to sign boundary documents, drawings, and maps for public and private organizations. Some states also require surveyors to complete continuing education courses to maintain their licenses.


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