Duties and responsibilities
A land surveyor measures and maps the shape of land. They gather data for civil engineering and construction projects so that accurate site plans can be drawn. They work in diverse sectors, such as construction, property, cartography and offshore engineering. Their typical duties and responsibilities include:
- Carrying out surveys of the environment
- Assessing land that is due for redevelopment
- Surveying airports, landfill sites, mines, quarries, pipeline systems and more
- Producing maps using GPS and surveying instruments
- Analysing data using geographic information system and drawing charts
- Monitoring changes in the land during the construction process
- Writing reports for colleagues and clients
Most surveyors will need four-year degree in an engineering-centric or surveying program that is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. A bachelors degree in a closely related field, such as civil engineering or forestry, is sometimes acceptable too.
Upon graduation, surveyors need to pass the Fundamentals of Surveying exam that is administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). Successful completion of the Fundamentals of Surveying exam allow surveyors to become a survey technician. After this, surveyors need to gain experience and training by working under the supervision of a licensed surveyor before taking the NCEES Principles and Practice of Surveying exam.
Skills and relevant work experience
Land surveyors will need skills such as:
- Organizational skills, as land surveyors will can have many different projects and need to organize their time efficiently
- Leadership skills, as they may be responsible leading other team members and providing training if necessary
- Communication skills, as land surveyors will need to communicate with other surveyors, architects and project managers. They need written communication skills in order to write written documents to a high standard
- Technical skills, as land surveyors will use complicated surveying equipment
- Attention to detail, as it is crucial that land surveyors measure things to the exact millimetre
Land surveyors will most likely split their time between the office and the field. They are likely to work full time hours. However, they may work additional hours during peak construction periods.
According to Salary.com, the average annual salary for a land surveyor in the United States is $179,810. The lowest 10% earned less than $39,131 and the highest 10% earned over $320,488.
The employment of surveyors is expected to increase 2% from 2019 to 2029. This is expected due to advancements in technology making surveyors more efficient and therefore increasing the demand for more. However, land surveyors with accredited degrees still have excellent opportunities. They can advance to more senior roles, that require leading a team. Or, they could consider working for themselves and starting their own business.