What Are the Education Requirements for Becoming a Land Surveyor?
Land surveyors gather the data that determines land, water and air boundaries. Read on to find out about the education and training requirements for entry into this career. Schools offering Engineering & Technology Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
Land Surveyor Job Description
As a land surveyor, you are primarily responsible for collecting the data used to designate land, air and water boundaries. This information establishes state lines, property deeds and airspace restrictions. Your job duties might also include describing land contours, elevation and other physical features. Land surveyors often work for private engineering and surveying firms, but some are employed by the government.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), it was once possible to launch a career in land surveying with minimal education, but that's no longer the case (www.bls.gov). Due to the increasingly technical nature of the profession, most employers require you to hold a bachelor's degree in surveying, mapping or geomatics. Such degree programs usually include courses such as calculus, geographic information systems (GIS) and cartography. Some states require surveyors to complete a degree program that's approved by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).
Licensing requirements for land surveyors vary from state to state - some may only ask for a high school diploma. However, all states require you to take the Fundamentals of Surveying exam given by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). After passing this test, you can start your hands-on training with a licensed surveyor, which generally lasts about four years. After you've completed the required work experience in land surveying, you'll be ready to take the Principles and Practice of Surveying exam, which is also administered by the NCEES. In addition, some states require a state licensing board exam, and some states require continuing education to maintain your license.
Certification is optional, but, according to the BLS, earning your certification through organizations such as the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS) can lead to promotion in the land-surveying field. The NSPS offers four levels of certification, which include written exams and varying degrees of work experience.
In order to succeed as a land surveyor, you must be able to record data with a high degree of accuracy. You should also be able to envision distance and size in order to describe physical objects used as mapping landmarks. Finally, land surveying is often done as a team, so the ability to work and communicate well with others is also essential.
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