Surveyors are responsible for creating and documenting official land boundaries, as well as boundaries for air space and water. They prepare land deeds with descriptions of the area, write leases and other legal forms relating to land, define air space for airports, and survey construction sites. They often work in survey parties measuring such elements as distances, angles, elevations, and contours of the land. They identify the features of the land, research legal records, analyze data, and determine boundary lines. Surveyors who establish legal boundaries must be State-licensed and are known as professional land surveyors.
The surveyor occupation is changing rapidly due to the increased use of new technology such as the Global Positioning System (GPS). GPS uses satellite information and radio signals to locate points on the earth's surface to incredibly accurate degrees. The cost of GPS receivers has dropped substantially in the last few years and, consequently, much of the surveyor's work can now be done using these systems. Surveyors also cross-reference the data from GPS with their own sample field data to ensure its accuracy.
Surveyors should have good visual abilities. Excellent eyesight, coordination, and hearing to communicate if they work in the field. They should also be in good physical shape. Teamwork is essential in this profession, and surveyors must be very good at working cooperatively with other people. They should also have good clerical, organizational, and research skills.
In 2002, surveyors earned a median annual salary of $39,970. Earnings ranged from the lowest 10%, who earned less than $22,260, to the highest 10%, who earned more than $67,700. The median annual salary of those employed in architectural, engineering, and related services was $38,870.
Training and Education
Most surveyors have a combination of postsecondary school and on-the-job training. 4-year degrees are becoming more and more common in the occupation due to advancing technology. Programs ranging in length from 1 to 3 years can be found at junior and community colleges, technical institutes, and vocational schools. In order to gain licensure, surveyors must pass a written examination from the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying. They must usually pass a State exam and show proper education and work experience qualifications. Educational requirements may include 4 years of college and 4 years of supervised experience. Some States require a bachelor's degree. Visit this page about surveying schools for more information on related careers.
In 2002, surveyors and closely related workers held about 124,000 jobs. Two-thirds worked in architectural, engineering, and related services. About 1 in 6 worked for Federal, State, and local government agencies.
Between 2002 and 2012, employment of surveyors is expected to increase about as fast as the average. Advancing technologies will improve the productivity of these workers, which will somewhat inhibit job growth. However, workers who leave the occupation will still need to be replaced. Most job opportunities will be concentrated in architectural, engineering, and related services. New opportunities will arise in the areas of urban planning, emergency preparedness, and natural resource exploration and mapping. Opportunities will be best for those who have the strongest technical and computer skills and at least a bachelor's degree.