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What Does It Take to Become a Surveyor?

Sep 22, 2022

According to Civil & Environmental Consultants, Inc. there are approximately 45,000 people working as professional surveyors in the United States. But what exactly do these workers do on a daily basis and how do they work to earn this title? Let’s learn more about what surveyors do and how you, too, can become a surveyor.

Job Description

Surveyors use precision measuring devices, such as laser rangefinders, to calculate the height, slope, and azimuth over long distances with a 12-inch accuracy. They also use global positioning systems (GPS) and geographic information system mapping data (GIS) to find the beginning point of a piece of property. Once the 
surveyor confirms the correct point of origin, they follow the property description to locate the positions of the corners, returning to the beginning.

Finding property markers sometimes requires hiking through underbrush while carrying a heavy bag of survey equipment. Surveyors also work year-round in all weather, above ground or below. Consequently, they need to be physically fit.

Education Requirements

The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) sets college and university surveyor program standards. These standards include requiring prospective surveyors to obtain a bachelor’s degree in Surveying Engineering Technology, Land Surveying, and Geomatics, or a related natural resource degree. Alternatively, some employers accept an associate’s degree with additional field experience, including military service.


Before being licensed, you need about four years of field experience under a licensed surveyor after attaining your bachelor’s degree. You may fulfill the experience requirement through military service in the Army Corps of Engineers; the Seabees; Air Force Civil Engineers; Marine Artillery Survey Operations; or as a Surveying, Mapping, and Drafting Technician in any service branch.

Years of Experience and Salary

As of 2021, New York pays the fourth-highest mean annual wage: $83,350. California, Alaska, and Washington State pay the top three salaries, while New Jersey ranks fifth, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The highest-paying metropolitan area, San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA, pays $112,360. However, despite providing the highest wages, California employs nearly 1,500 fewer surveyors than Texas, whose mean annual salary is $65,730.

Job Growth Trend

Thanks to the use of satellites and drones, job growth for surveyors will hover around 2% per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, primarily due to attrition. Surveyors working with architects and cartographers have an estimated 3% annual growth. This percentage translates to about 4,000 job openings every year through 2030.

As you can see, becoming a surveyor requires a particular educational path, but the outlook for this career is quite promising. If you’re interested in learning more about this industry, be sure to contact Stoeckel Jahner Land Surveying today.