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What Is a Land Surveyor and How to Become One

Land Surveyor

What Do Land Surveyors Do?

Land surveyors measure properties and plots of land to delineate boundaries of property lines and gather data on the shape and contour of the landscape. This information is essential for determining the location of buildings and roads, preventing or settling disputes over property lines, and contributing to the creation of maps. When assigned a project, land surveyors research the specific property, examining previous surveys, land records, and land titles that may exist for reference. They measure distances and angles between locations and utilize Global Positioning System (GPS) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to create accurate digital maps of an area. Land surveyors use these maps and reports to advise government agencies and businesses on where to build construction projects, such as homes, roads, and landfills.

How Do You Become a Surveyor?

To become a surveyor, earn a bachelor’s degree in land surveying, geomatics, mapping, civil engineering, or a related field. Once you have obtained your degree, pass the Fundamentals of Surveying exam administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). Acquire an internship or apprenticeship at a surveying company to train with an experienced surveyor. Work under a surveyor for a few years, then take the Principles and Practice of Surveying exam, also offered by the NCEES. Passing the exam qualifies you to become a licensed surveyor. License requirements vary by state, so research the qualifications in the state where you wish to work.

Where Can I Find Land Surveying Jobs?

The majority of land surveyors work for private architectural, engineering, or surveying firms. However, some also work for construction companies or governments agencies. Network with companies and local offices that have surveyors on staff to find leads on surveying positions.

What Education Do Land Surveyors Need?

Land surveyors need to have a bachelor’s degree in surveying, mapping, geometrics, or a related field. Before they can practice, they need to pass both the Fundamentals of Surveying exam and the Principles and Practice of Surveying exam, both administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). Most states require aspiring land surveyors to have some training or work experience with a veteran surveyor before becoming eligible for their surveyor’s license.

Land Surveyor Job Description Sample

With this Land Surveyor job description sample, you can get a good idea of what employers are looking for when hiring for this position. Remember, every employer is different and each will have unique qualifications when they hire for a Land Surveyor role.

Job Summary

Our firm is looking for a Land Surveyor to join our field team. In this role, you will coordinate with field crews to conduct boundary, topographic, and as-built surveys. You will also assist with construction staking or site layout surveys that outline the locations of the structures we are proposing to build in the area. After conducting these surveys, you will prepare legal descriptions and assist with zoning and permitting applications. Applicants should have a bachelor's degree and a state certification or licensure as a Professional Land Surveyor. You also need some field surveying experience.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Take measurements and determine property boundaries
  • Perform topographic and as-built surveys
  • Assist with construction staking or site layout surveys
  • Coordinate with field survey crews
  • Assist with zoning and permitting applications
  • Provide technical expertise to other individuals in the company

Requirements and Qualifications

  • Bachelor's degree in surveying, civil engineering, or a closely related field
  • State certification or licensure as a professional land surveyor
  • Land surveying or construction surveying experience
  • Experience with computer-aided design tools, such as AutoCAD Civil 3D software
  • Valid driver's license
  • Math and cartography skills
  • Written and verbal communication skills