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Career profile Surveyor

Also known as City Surveyor, County Surveyor, Land Surveyor, Mine Surveyor, Registered Land Surveyor, Surveyor

Surveyor

Also known as City Surveyor, County Surveyor, Land Surveyor

Interests Profile
  • Realistic
  • Investigative
  • Conventional
Pay Range
$37,690 - $109,010 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Mathematics
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Speaking
Knowledge Areas
  • Mathematics
  • Engineering and Technology
  • Customer and Personal Service
Core tasks
  • Verify the accuracy of survey data, including measurements and calculations conducted at survey sites.
  • Direct or conduct surveys to establish legal boundaries for properties, based on legal deeds and titles.
  • Prepare, or supervise preparation of, all data, charts, plots, maps, records, and documents related to surveys.
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What does a Surveyor do?

Surveyors make exact measurements and determine property boundaries.

In addition, Surveyors provide data relevant to the shape, contour, gravitation, location, elevation, or dimension of land or land features on or near the earth's surface for engineering, mapmaking, mining, land evaluation, construction, and other purposes.

What kind of tasks does a Surveyor perform regularly?

Surveyors are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Verify the accuracy of survey data, including measurements and calculations conducted at survey sites.
  • Direct or conduct surveys to establish legal boundaries for properties, based on legal deeds and titles.
  • Prepare, or supervise preparation of, all data, charts, plots, maps, records, and documents related to surveys.
  • Prepare and maintain sketches, maps, reports, and legal descriptions of surveys to describe, certify, and assume liability for work performed.
  • Write descriptions of property boundary surveys for use in deeds, leases, or other legal documents.
  • Search legal records, survey records, and land titles to obtain information about property boundaries in areas to be surveyed.
  • Coordinate findings with the work of engineering and architectural personnel, clients, and others concerned with projects.
  • Establish fixed points for use in making maps, using geodetic and engineering instruments.
  • Calculate heights, depths, relative positions, property lines, and other characteristics of terrain.
  • Adjust surveying instruments to maintain their accuracy.
  • Train assistants and helpers, and direct their work in such activities as performing surveys or drafting maps.
  • Record the results of surveys, including the shape, contour, location, elevation, and dimensions of land or land features.
  • Determine longitudes and latitudes of important features and boundaries in survey areas, using theodolites, transits, levels, and satellite-based global positioning systems (GPS).
  • Compute geodetic measurements and interpret survey data to determine positions, shapes, and elevations of geomorphic and topographic features.
  • Analyze survey objectives and specifications to prepare survey proposals or to direct others in survey proposal preparation.
  • Testify as an expert witness in court cases on land survey issues, such as property boundaries.
  • Plan and conduct ground surveys designed to establish baselines, elevations, and other geodetic measurements.
  • Develop criteria for survey methods and procedures.
  • Survey bodies of water to determine navigable channels and to secure data for construction of breakwaters, piers, and other marine structures.
  • Direct aerial surveys of specified geographical areas.
  • Conduct research in surveying and mapping methods, using knowledge of photogrammetric map compilation and electronic data processing.

The above responsibilities are specific to Surveyors. More generally, Surveyors are involved in several broader types of activities:

Making Decisions and Solving Problems
Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Working with Computers
Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
Documenting/Recording Information
Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Processing Information
Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.

What is a Surveyor salary?

The median salary for a Surveyor is $65,590, and the average salary is $70,260. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Surveyor salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Surveyors earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Surveyors earn less than $37,690 per year, 25% earn less than $49,250, 75% earn less than $87,480, and 90% earn less than $109,010.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Surveyors is expected to change by 1.5%, and there should be roughly 4,000 open positions for Surveyors every year.

Median annual salary
$65,590
Typical salary range
$37,690 - $109,010
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
1.5%

What personality traits are common among Surveyors?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Surveyor are usually higher in their Realistic, Investigative, and Conventional interests.

Surveyors typically have very strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Also, Surveyors typically have strong Investigative interests. Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Lastly, Surveyors typically have strong Conventional interests. Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Surveyor tend to value Relationships, Independence, and Achievement.

Most importantly, Surveyors strongly value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Second, Surveyors strongly value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Lastly, Surveyors moderately value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Surveyors must consistently demonstrate qualities such as integrity, attention to detail, and dependability.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Surveyors, ranked by importance:

Integrity
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Analytical Thinking
Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
Cooperation
Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.

What education and training do Surveyors need?

Many Surveyors will have a four-year bachelor's degree, but some do not.

Surveyors usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.

Educational degrees among Surveyors

  • 0.1% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 3.4% completed high school or secondary school
  • 11.0% completed some college coursework
  • 12.4% earned a Associate's degree
  • 60.0% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 9.9% earned a Master's degree
  • 3.2% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Surveyors

Surveyors may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as mathematics, engineering and technology, or customer and personal service knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Surveyors might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Mathematics
Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Engineering and Technology
Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Law and Government
Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
Geography
Knowledge of principles and methods for describing the features of land, sea, and air masses, including their physical characteristics, locations, interrelationships, and distribution of plant, animal, and human life.

Important Abilities needed by Surveyors

Surveyors must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Surveyors need abilities such as written comprehension, deductive reasoning, and mathematical reasoning in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Surveyors, ranked by their relative importance.

Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Deductive Reasoning
The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
Mathematical Reasoning
The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.

Critical Skills needed by Surveyors

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Surveyors frequently use skills like mathematics, reading comprehension, and speaking to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Surveyors, ranked by their relative importance.

Mathematics
Using mathematics to solve problems.
Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
Speaking
Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.