How to Become a Surveyor?


If a property’s boundary is not developed as per the government established rules and policies, government officials can charge you with a fine for it, or worse, may even demolish the portion of the property that falls out of the legal boundary.

To stay within the legal boundaries, surveyors help constructors and landowners make precise measurements to define property boundaries. Property surveyors play a significant role in the land development industry as their job duty involves measuring and mapping lands, creating legal boundaries as per established law and order, and forming official descriptions for lands and buildings.

The job requires temporary relocation, traveling, and licensure and experience. If you are up for it, then read on to learn how to become a surveyor, how much do surveyors make, and what property surveyors’ job is.

What the Career Involves?

Property surveyors are responsible for measuring lands, preparing maps & sketches based on the measurements and data, and establishing legal descriptions or reports with regards to land boundaries. The professionals also provide data on the shape and formation of the land surface, which is used by civil engineers, builders, cartographers, and construction companies.

Surveyors are expected to understand the land development industry, receive adequate education and training, and obtain licensure. The career also requires candidates to be okay with flexibility, adaptability, traveling, and hard work

Surveyors’ Job Description:

  • Conduct property surveys and prepare maps, blueprints, and sketches of boundaries.
  • Determine the characteristics and features of the earth’s surface, such as height, depth, property lines, and position.
  • Establish a legal description of the survey.
  • Verify the precision of the survey data, including site measurements and calculation.
  • Establish legal boundaries for properties based on law and order.
  • Create a report about the survey, including boundary dimension, location, shape, elevation, and contour.
  • Prepare charts and other documents for constructors and engineers.
  • Write property description for lease, deeds, and other legal papers.

Property Surveyors’ Salary

Surveyors are always in demand in the land development and construction industry to certify property boundaries, review construction of buildings, and work on property-related projects. Therefore, the employment rate is predicted to grow by 6 – 7 percent in the next couple of years. This also indicates that surveyors are well paid for their work. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary surveyors received in the year 2018 was $62,580. However, with 10 years of experience in the field, you can earn as high as $102,220 per annum.

[Also Read: Know the Steps to Become a General Contractor]

How to Become a Surveyor in Steps

Because of the complexity of the work, surveyors need to be educationally qualified and obtain a license before gaining admittance in the industry.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

You must obtain a bachelor’s degree in science and mapping. A background in civil engineering, like an accredited program in civil engineering, shall boost your career further. Many states have made it mandatory for the candidate to acquire a comprehensive education in civil engineering. Three different skills are needed for this career. They are technical, communication and error-checking, and computer skills.

The technical skill must for this career is knowledge about different industry tools, such as beam laser, measuring rods, etc. Required computer skills are the ability to use map creation, analytical software, and project management tools, and knowledge of the surveying technology. Problem-solving, error-checking, and communication skills are needed to make the job work effective and precise.

Step 2: Complete an Internship

Having relevant experience will always prove advantageous when applying for entry-level surveyor jobs. An internship or apprenticeship will allow you to learn and use various surveying techniques and tools, map creation approaches, and get involved in real work.

The internship will also help you apply your acquired knowledge under guidance much before you start your career fully-fledged. Apply for internship or apprenticeship during your third year of bachelor’s studies.

Step 3: Gain Work Experience and Training

Most states require the professional to gain work experience of at least 3 – 4 years and training after completing studies. It would help if you acquired both under the guidance of licensed officials to obtain a license and work as a property surveyor. Many employers give preference to experience and on-the-job training over education to enter this career.

You can work as a survey technician before gaining a license. You will train under various licensed professionals from the industry, apart from surveyors. This will give you the right exposure and technical know-how.

To advance in your career, you can also consider becoming a Certified Survey Technician (CST). The National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS) provides four levels of voluntary certifications. You can pursue any one of these.

Step 4: Gain License

As we have established the fact, you cannot pursue the career further without a license. For licensure, you must complete an educational training program successfully and clear the Fundamentals of Surveying(1) (FS) examination. After this, you must work under a licensed surveyor and acquire 4 more years of work experience. And then, you will gain the eligibility to take the Principles and Practice of Surveying Examination (PS). Pass the PS exam and obtain your license.

Step 5: Broaden Your Career Opportunities

Additional certifications from the NSPS will always help you improve your chance of receiving a higher salary and finding jobs in reputed companies. You must also hone your visualization skills, detail orientation skills, physical stamina, time-management, and problem-solving skills for the same reason. To maintain the license, you have to complete professional development hours and fulfill the requirements for CPC (continuing professional competency). However, the license renewal requirement varies in states. Please check with your state to understand what you need to renew the license.

Since it will take almost 10 years to obtain the license, patience, and hard work are the only two keys you need to become a certified property surveyor.