How to Become a Professional Land Surveyor


After over 30 years in the business, I can confidently say that land surveying is a profession that is constantly evolving. Because of this, it is no surprise that the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook has reported that “employment of surveying and mapping technicians is expected to grow 16% from 2010 to 2020”. For those of you who are teetering back and forth with the idea of pursuing a career in this field, I think it’s about time you get a few of the basics straightened out.


For the most part, preparation can begin right away inside the walls of your high school by filling your schedule with courses in algebra, trigonometry, geometry, drafting and computer science. This type of work load will help you because though there are a lot of tools that can do the calculations for you, as a land surveyor, you would be expected to know how to do them with a pen and paper if you needed to. Then once it comes time to apply to colleges, be sure to check the list of academics, as many universities offer bachelor’s degrees in surveying. You can also look to pursue an associate’s degree with a technical focus on surveying and mapping as an alternative option as well.


Once you’ve earned your degree, there’s one more step to complete before seeking employment in the industry, and that’s getting yourself licensed. Every state requires land surveyors to do this and there are three exams standing between you and your future as a licensed professional. The first, “The Fundamentals of Surveying”, will allow you to work as a surveying intern, whereas the second, “The Principles and Practices of Surveying”, is taken after at least four years of supervised experience (each state is different) in the field. After both federal exams and each state exam have been passed you may consider yourself a rightful member of the land surveying community.


Once you’ve established yourself, your education will continue as you are constantly required to update yourself on the evolving technological advances and field practices. It’s definitely a lot of hard work, but it’s also a very rewarding profession. With today’s economy being in such a poor condition, surveyors are still busy, so it’s nice to know that when you’re a part of this profession, a silver lining can always be found.