Surveyors measure and map the earth's surface. Land surveyors establish boundaries of land, air space and water. They write descriptions of land for legal documents. Some surveyors manage survey parties which provide data on the shape, location, elevation, or other features of land. It is the surveying technician who operates the survey instruments to collect the data.

Working Conditions

Surveyors spend much of their time outdoors. They work a lot on computers. They may work longer hours in the summer when there is more daylight and better weather.


The middle 50 percent of surveyors earn between $27,600 and $50,400. Land surveyors for the Federal Government earn an average of $52,400.

Helpful Skills and Subjects to Study

Surveyors need to be in good physical condition because they work outdoors and often carry equipment over difficult terrain. They need good eyesight, coordination and hearing. Good interpersonal skills and the ability to work as part of a team are important. Students interested in surveying should take courses in algebra, geometry, trigonometry, drafting, mechanical drawing and computer science.

Related Jobs

Surveying is related to the work of civil engineers and architects, since an accurate survey is the first step in land development and construction projects.

Education & Training

Most people prepare for a career as a licensed surveyor by combining postsecondary school courses in surveying with extensive on-the-job training. As technology advances, however, a four-year degree is becoming more of a prerequisite. All 50 States license land surveyors. Most State boards require that individuals pass two written examinations, one prepared by the State and one given by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying.

Job Outlook

Opportunities will be best for surveyors with at least a bachelor's degree. Surveying technicians will also have good opportunities.

Sources for Additional Information

American Congress on Surveying and Mapping
5410 Grosvenor Lane, Suite 100
Bethesda, MD 20814-2122