Surveyors establish land, airspace and water boundaries. They measure the Earth’s surface to collect data that are used to draw maps, determine the shape and contour of parcels of land, and set property lines and boundaries. They also define airspace for airports and measure construction and mining sites. Surveyors work with civil engineers, landscape architects, and urban and regional planners to develop comprehensive design documents. Surveyors guide construction and development projects and provide information needed for the buying and selling of property. In construction, surveyors determine the precise location of roads or buildings and proper depths for foundations and roads. Whenever property is bought or sold, it needs to be surveyed for legal purposes.
In their work, surveyors use the Global Positioning System (GPS), a system of satellites that locates reference points with a high degree of precision. Surveyors interpret and verify the GPS results. They gather the data that is fed into a Geographic Information System (GIS), which is then used to create detailed maps. Surveyors take measurements in the field with a crew, a group that typically consists of a licensed surveyor and trained survey technicians. The person in charge of the crew (called the party chief) may be either a surveyor or a senior surveying technician. The party chief leads day-to-day work activities.TCC programs that are right for you:Drafting and Design Technology Programs
Surveying involves both field work and indoor work. Field work involves working outdoors, standing for long periods, and walking considerable distances. Surveyors sometimes climb hills with heavy packs of instruments and other equipment. When working outside, they are exposed to all types of weather, and they may need to stop outdoor work in bad weather. Surveyors also do many tasks indoors, including researching land records, analyzing field survey data, mapping, presenting information to regulatory agencies, and providing expert testimony in courts of law. Traveling is sometimes part of the job, and surveyors may commute long distances or stay at project locations for a period of time. Surveyors usually work full time. They may work longer hours during the summer, when warm weather and long hours of daylight are most suitable for field work.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of surveyors is expected to grow 25 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations. Growth will result from increased construction related to improving infrastructure. The demand for traditional surveying services is closely tied to construction activity and opportunities will vary by year and geographic region, depending on local economic conditions. When real estate sales and construction slow down, surveyors may face greater competition for jobs. However, because surveyors can work on many different types of projects, they may have steadier work than others when construction slows. An increasing number of firms are interested in geographic information and its applications. For example, a Geographic Information System (GIS) can be used to create maps and information for emergency planning, security, marketing, urban planning, natural resource exploration, construction, and other applications. Surveyors will still be needed for legal reasons to verify the accuracy of the data and information gathered for input into a GIS.
Career information courtesy of the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook.