What They Do: Surveyors make precise measurements to determine property boundaries.
Work Environment: Surveying involves both fieldwork and office work. When working outside, surveyors may stand for long periods and often walk long distances, sometimes in bad weather. Most work full time.
How to Become One: Surveyors typically need a bachelor’s degree. They must be licensed before they can certify legal documents and provide surveying services to the public.
Salary: The median annual wage for surveyors is $65,590.
Job Outlook: Employment of surveyors is projected to grow 2 percent over the next ten years, slower than the average for all occupations. Surveyors will continue to be needed to certify boundary lines, work on resource extraction projects, and review sites for construction.
Related Careers: Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of surveyors with similar occupations.
Following is everything you need to know about a career as a surveyor with lots of details. As a first step, take a look at some of the following jobs, which are real jobs with real employers. You will be able to see the very real job career requirements for employers who are actively hiring. The link will open in a new tab so that you can come back to this page to continue reading about the career:
Registered Professional Land Surveyor (PLS) in a state within our service territoryAdditional InformationMust be legally authorized to work in the United States, no sponsorships considered.Subject to ...
Currently seeking a Surveyor / Party Chief to support their diverse industrial, commercial, and heavy highway Site Work operations. Primary responsibilities will include checking grades and as-builts ...
... Surveyor Location - Peoria, IL Must be willing to relocate to area - Relocation cost covered Southland Holdings is seeking Construction Surveyor for a large bridge project in Peoria, Illinois
Surveyors make precise measurements to determine property boundaries. They provide data relevant to the shape and contour of the Earth's surface for engineering, mapmaking, and construction projects.
Surveyors typically do the following:
Surveyors mark and document the location of legal property lines. For example, when a house or commercial building is bought or sold, surveyors may mark property boundaries to prevent or resolve disputes. They use a variety of measuring equipment depending upon the type of survey.
When taking measurements in the field, surveyors make use of the Global Positioning System (GPS), a system of satellites that locates reference points with a high degree of precision. Surveyors use handheld GPS units and automated systems known as robotic total stations to collect relevant information about the terrain they are surveying. Surveyors then interpret and verify the results on a computer.
Surveyors also use Geographic Information Systems (GIS)—technology that allows surveyors to present spatial information visually as maps, reports, and charts. For example, a surveyor can overlay aerial or satellite images with GIS data, such as tree density in a given region, and create digital maps. They then use the results to advise governments and businesses on where to plan homes, roads, and landfills.
Although advances in surveying technology now allow many jobs to be performed by just one surveyor, other jobs may be performed by a crew, consisting of a licensed surveyor and trained surveying technicians. The person in charge of the crew, known as the party chief, may be either a surveyor or a senior surveying technician. The party chief leads day-to-day work activities.
The following are examples of types of surveyors:
Boundary or land surveyors determine the legal property lines and help determine the exact locations of real estate and construction projects.
Engineering or construction surveyors determine the precise location of roads or buildings and proper depths for building foundations. They show changes to the property line and indicate potential restrictions on the property, such as what can be built on it and how large the structure can be. They also may survey the grade and topography of roads.
Forensic surveyors survey and record accident scenes for potential landscape effects.
Geodetic surveyors use high-accuracy technology, including aerial and satellite observations, to measure large areas of the Earth's surface.
Marine or hydrographic surveyors survey harbors, rivers, and other bodies of water to determine shorelines, the topography of the floor, water depth, and other features.
Mine surveyors survey and map the tunnels in an underground mine. They survey surface mines to determine the volume of materials mined.
Surveyors held about 48,000 jobs. The largest employers of surveyors are as follows:
|Architectural, engineering, and related services||69%|
|Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction||2%|
Depending on the specific job duties, surveying involves both fieldwork and office work. Fieldwork involves working outdoors in all types of weather, walking long distances, and standing for extended periods while taking measurements. Surveyors sometimes climb hills with heavy packs of surveying instruments. When working near hazards such as traffic, surveyors generally wear brightly colored or reflective vests so they may be seen more easily. When working in underground mines, surveyors work in enclosed spaces.
Traveling is often part of the job, and surveyors may commute long distances or stay at a project location for an extended period of time. Those who work on resource extraction projects may work in remote areas and spend long periods away from home.
Surveyors usually work full time. When construction activity is high, they may work more hours than usual.
Get the education you need: Find schools for Surveyors near you!
Surveyors typically need a bachelor's degree. They must be licensed before they can certify legal documents and provide surveying services to the public.
Surveyors typically need a bachelor's degree because they work with sophisticated technology and math. Some colleges and universities offer bachelor's degree programs specifically designed to prepare students to become licensed surveyors. Many states require individuals who want to become licensed surveyors to have a bachelor's degree from a school accredited by ABET. A bachelor's degree in a closely related field, such as civil engineering or forestry, is sometimes acceptable as well. An associate's degree may be sufficient in some cases with additional training.
In order to become licensed, most states require approximately 4 years of work experience and training under a licensed surveyor after obtaining a bachelor's degree. Other states may allow substituting more years of work experience and supervised training under a licensed surveyor in place of education.
In some states, surveying technicians can become licensed surveyors after working for as many as 10 years under a licensed surveyor. The amount of work experience required varies by state. Check with your state for more information.
All 50 states and the District of Columbia require surveyors to be licensed before they can certify legal documents that show property lines or determine proper markings on construction projects. Candidates with a bachelor's degree usually must work for several years under the direction of a licensed surveyor in order to qualify for licensure.
Although the process of obtaining a license varies by state, the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying has a generalized process of four steps:
Most states also have continuing education requirements for surveyors to maintain their license.
Communication skills. Surveyors must provide clear instructions to team members, clients, and government officials. They also must be able to follow instructions from architects and construction managers, and explain the job's progress to developers, lawyers, financiers, and government authorities.
Detail oriented. Surveyors must work with precision and accuracy because they produce legally binding documents.
Physical stamina. Surveyors traditionally work outdoors, often in rugged terrain. They must be able to walk long distances and for long periods.
Problem-solving skills. Surveyors must figure out discrepancies between documents showing property lines and current conditions on the land. If there were changes in previous years, they must discover the reason behind them and reestablish property lines.
Time-management skills. Surveyors must be able to effectively plan their time and their team members' time on the job. This is critical when pressing deadlines exist or while working outside during winter months when daylight hours are short.
Visualization skills. Surveyors must be able to envision new buildings and altered terrain.
The median annual wage for surveyors is $65,590. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $37,690, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $109,010.
The median annual wages for surveyors in the top industries in which they work are as follows:
|Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction||$69,920|
|Architectural, engineering, and related services||$63,780|
Surveyors usually work full time. When construction activity is high, they may work more hours than usual.
Employment of surveyors is projected to grow 2 percent over the next ten years, slower than the average for all occupations.
Surveyors will continue to be needed to certify boundary lines, work on resource extraction projects, and review sites for construction. However, the use of drones and other technologies is expected to increase worker productivity and may therefore limit employment growth.
Overall job opportunities are expected to be good, but those with knowledge of a variety of surveying specializations and a bachelor's degree from an ABET-accredited school will have the best job opportunities.
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. However, because surveyors can work on many different types of projects, they may have steadier work than others in the industry when construction slows.
|Occupational Title||Employment, 2019||Projected Employment, 2029||Change, 2019-29|
A portion of the information on this page is used by permission of the U.S. Department of Labor.