Are you someone who is fascinated by the urban landscape? Did you take geography classes in school and liked them? Are you someone who excelled in orienteering when you were younger, perhaps as a scout? If you identify with any of these traits, then you should consider a career as a land surveyor.
According to the US Department of Labor’s US Bureau of Labor Statistics, surveyors take measurements of land to define boundaries1. The work they do is relevant to the geography and geotechnical nature of civil, infrastructure and construction projects. The Bureau projects a growth of 10% in the employment of surveyors, which is growing at an average rate from 2012 – 2022. This is largely dependent on the growth of the construction industry.
A formal post-secondary education is required for a career as a land surveyor due to the technical knowledge and skills required to take measurements and interpret the data. In addition to education, because there is a considerable amount of liability involved in this job, there are state licensing requirements that need to be met before surveyors can practice in the field.
The program that is most directly applicable to the role of a land surveyor is geomatics. This is an area which combines both math and geography to collect, analyze and interpret geospatial information related to the environment. Geomatics is often an area part of civil engineering, so some schools offer the program as part of the faculty of engineering. These are four year courses at a university which is mostly offered in person rather than online. Students in these courses not only have to learn about the fundamentals of geography, mathematics and civil engineering, but they are also required to have considerable field experience where they apply their theoretical knowledge.
Following the completion of their four year degrees, students may be able to find employment with land surveying companies, engineering and construction firms as well as the government. Because land surveying is heavily tied to the construction industry, the locations where these jobs are in the highest demand are where construction activities are taking place.
In addition to their degrees, land surveyors are required to be licensed before practicing. Because land, real estate and construction are governed at the state level, each state has different requirements. However, laws and regulations regularly change in construction and real estate industries, surveyors are required to take continuing education courses as a requirement for their membership renewal each year.
A career in land surveying can be very rewarding. You are part of the process which defines the boundaries of territories, neighbourhoods, and even large construction projects. Your ability to take measurements and interpret the data correctly can affect how lines are drawn on maps at a macro level. Students who wish to learn more about this career path can contact their high school counsellors or contact the local branch of the national organization for professional surveyors.
1. Surveyors. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. US Department of Labor. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/surveyors.htm