What Does a Land Surveyor Do?
Land surveyors do a variety of tasks such as updating boundary lines and preparing sites for construction so legal disputes can be prevented. They produce plats of surveys and describe property.
Land surveyors are involved with measuring properties and pieces of land to determine boundaries. Information about boundaries is necessary for many reasons:
- it helps determine construction location for roads or buildings
- settles property line disputes
- leads to the creation of maps
The maps and land descriptions created by a land surveyor are usually considered legally binding. A surveyor may be called on to present his findings in a courtroom setting. Because of the legal and precise nature of the work, one needs to be licensed before working as a land surveyor.
Land Surveyors Duties and Responsibilities
To complete a land survey, a surveyor:
- performs research about the area or assignment, which may include seeking out the history of the property including, but not limited to, gathering information by going into the field and observing evidence about the property
- gathers information via field work by going into the field and taking a survey of the area, which will then determine boundaries or create a topography
During a land survey, Global Positioning System (GPS) equipment may be used. Because this equipment uses satellite data, it allows the gathering of accurate information with high efficiency. Once a land survey is completed, findings are recorded, often by creating official reports, public records, land records, legal documents, maps, and more. In many cases, survey work is completed with a team.
Land Surveyor Skills
- needs to know his or her state laws and history of surveying
- needs to understand mathematical concepts and be able to use them for plotting and measuring parcels of land
- must have computer skills since you will be using various types of technological equipment
- should be able to focus on detail and complete tasks accurately and thoroughly
What does it take to become a licensed land surveyor?
Depending on the state you are in, requirements may range from a high school diploma to a Bachelor's Degree.
Step 1: High School Courses and Apprenticeships
High school courses in:
- drafting and computers
May help prepare you for this type of work. A bachelor's degree is usually required but high school graduates without any post-secondary education may be able to secure work as apprentices for some companies.
Step 2: Earn a Bachelor's Degree
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), you'll need at least a bachelor's degree to work as a surveyor (www.bls.gov). You'll find many universities offer bachelor's degree programs in cartography, surveying, and geography. Degrees in engineering and computer science are also useful for this occupation.
A bachelor's degree program in surveying will give you a mix of practical skills, fundamental concepts, and theory. Courses include satellite surveying and remote sensing, land information systems, survey research, statistical methods, and real estate law. Technical schools and community colleges offer surveying programs if you're seeking a two-year degree.
Step 3: Obtain a Surveyor's License
All states require surveyors to become licensed. Most states accept the results of two exams administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (www.ncees.org). The first example, the Fundamentals of Surveying (FS), can be taken after you've completed your undergraduate degree. A passing score allows you to work as a surveying intern. The second exam is the Principles and Practices of Surveying (PS), which you are eligible to take after four years of supervised experience as a surveyor.
Step 4: Seek Employment
You'll mainly find government agencies, architectural, engineering, mining, construction, and utility companies looking to hire land surveyors. The BLS states about 44,300 people worked as surveyors as of 2014. Employment is expected to decline two percent between 2014 and 2024, according to the BLS. These jobs will be the result of more demand for surveyors, especially on infrastructure projects, as well as the retirement and turnover of current workers.
Types of Surveying
- ALTA Survey
- Property Boundary Survey
- Construction Survey
- Location Survey
- Site Planning Survey
- Subdivision Survey
- Topographic Survey
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