Loving the Outdoors and Making a Living at the Same Time

Surveyors are always needed, because they make the measurements that determine property boundaries for individuals, as well as those for construction projects. As a surveyor, you’ll work outdoors, enjoying the fresh air; and as an added incentive, you can work as a self-employed surveyor part-time and still have time to spend with your children. If you have a love for the great outdoors, you may be a great fit for a profession such as surveying that also includes great earnings potential.

Job Description

Surveyors use specialized equipment to make precise measurements. The main objective of this profession is to prevent legal disputes over boundary lines for personal property, construction sites or commercial property. If you’re detail-oriented, have good problem-solving and time-management skills as well as physical stamina, this may be the perfect profession for you.

Education Requirements

A surveyor usually needs a bachelor’s degree to learn the sophisticated technology and math skills necessary for this profession. You can find universities and colleges with specific bachelor’s degree programs to become a licensed surveyor. Many states require that your degree is from a school accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), although sometimes a bachelor’s degree in a closely related field such as forestry or civil engineering may be acceptable. In some cases, you only need an associate’s degree combined with extra training.

To become a licensed surveyor, most states require about four years of work experience under a licensed surveyor after you obtain your bachelor’s degree. Some states may allow you to substitute additional years of experience under a licensed surveyor in lieu of the education requirements.

You must become licensed as a surveyor to be able to certify legal documents, including property lines, in all states and the District of Columbia. The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying requires these steps:

  • Complete the level of education required in your state
  • Take and pass the Fundamentals of Surveying exam
  • Get sufficient work experience under a licensed surveyor as determined by your state
  • Take and pass the Principles and Practice of Surveying exam

Most states also have requirements for continuing education to maintain a surveyor’s license. Check with your specific state for the exact requirements you will need to keep your license.


Surveyors may work in the field and in the office, depending on their exact job duties. When in the field, you’ll work in all kinds of weather conditions, may walk long distances or stand for long periods while taking measurements. Some jobs may include hiking over uneven terrain while carrying your instruments in a pack. If you like to hike and are in good health, this will be part of your work routine.

Surveyors usually wear brightly colored vests to stay highly visible around traffic and other work hazards. If you are working in a mine for extraction, you’ll be in a confined space

Years of Experience

Land surveyors make a median salary of $60,404 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which works out to $19.39 per hour. The median salary means that half of the employees in this field earn more, and half earn less. The lowest 10 percent earn $36,207 per year, and the highest 10 percent earn $96,245 per year.

Pay rates are influenced by years of experience. Surveyors earn a good wage when they’re first starting their careers, but the salary increases as you gain experience. Here’s a projection of the reported median annual salaries for various experience levels:

  • 0‒5 years: $37,000
  • 5‒10 years: $52,000
  • 10‒20 years: $59,000
  • Over 20 years: $67,000

Job Growth Trend

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that surveyor positions will grow 11 percent over the next decade, which is faster than the average for all occupations.

Surveyors will always be needed to certify boundary lines, review sites for construction and work on resource extraction projects.

If you add to your abilities by specializing in certain types of surveying, you can expect to have the best job opportunities in this field. The demand for this type of job is closely related to construction activity, giving you more job opportunities in times of upward economic growth. Since surveyors can work on many different types of projects, you will have steadier work than others in this industry when construction rates decline.

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