Hello, I'm a new member but I've been a surveyor for almost 22 years now, about 10 years ago the land surveying company I worked for went out of business when the market crash happened which forced me to find employment in the construction industry and not for a registered surveyor... I found out quickly the differences were roughly my salary doubled and my work load was about the same... over the past 10 years I've watched closely the base salary of professional surveyors stay stagnant while my salary went to above 100k a year, which is considerably more than that of the average licensed surveyor based off all of the information I have seen...

Long story short is back when the idea was proposed it was supposed to bring surveyors in line with engineers but even after roughly 20 years that has not happened from what I can tell... so what is the benefit of needing the 4 year degree?

This Content Originally Published by a land surveyor to Land Surveyors United Network

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Does Education requirements hurt?   Yes, when there aren't enough "Surveying" schools in the nation or enough students graduating with a Land Survey degrees.   Penn State had just around 6 students graduating 2017.  But to agree with the other comments made, why would a graduate want $50k, when they could get an engineering degree to make$100k!?!?   The root of the problem is that our profession is underpaid, which makes the profession unappealing to a young student.  Heck, a rod man, I-man, and perhaps a Party Chief could make the same money stocking shelves at Walmart.  And with a lot less stress and liability!  Personally, I love the challenges of our profession.   However, I have struggled financially for years and if I had a time machine, I would tell my 20 yo self to go in to the Military, then get a engineering degree..Anything but Land Surveying.   

When there isn't enough  graduates to fulfill the demand of surveying positions, than the Licensing boards try to supplement the demand, by allowing Engineering graduates to fulfill the education requirement.   Really, What does an engineering graduate know about traverse adjustments or boundary law?   Now we have a profession whose requirements and procedures are govern by engineering grads, with little knowledge in our Land Surveying profession!   It's undermining of our profession and I'm having to face what's ethical and what I'm being demanded to do for a cheap and ridiculously quick budget.  

Sorry to upset the engineering grad - license surveyors here.  However, if you are on this website, you must be of higher character than the Licensed Surveying engineering grads I deal with.  

Ok, so if we all agree that wages and our prices being set by realtors is what's killing us then what can we do to solve the problem?

Well, there isn't anything you can do about it unless you are registered & run a business, other than refusing to accept employment for less than you think you are worth.

If we don't get paid enough, you can't tell it by the fees my competition charges but then I am semi retired & have a very low overhead.

Some of the best surveyors I know are dual registered as engineers. Unfortunately, so are some of the worst. That was the reason I left the State DNR after a brief & unpleasant tenure. I figured that, even though the pay was a joke, I could work my way up if I got my foot in the door. I would still be there if I had gotten some respect for my credentials & knowledge.The engineer in charge had about as much business in charge of large boundary surveys (30,000 acres or so) as a dead frog & there was essentially no route for advancement. Not to mention I was desperate after the recession & a divorce. Fortunately, I still had a timber tract I bought when I still had a few bucks that my X couldn't get.

The law of supply & demand will prevail. Nobody is going to pay more than they have to & they will pay as much as they have to in order to get what they have to have. The increased requirements for registration as well as the greater requirement for knowledge equate to fewer licensed surveyors & greater demand.

We had this problem here for a few years.  Apparently we weere charging 3 times what the realtor toId the buyer and seller the cost would be.  dealt with it by telling the potential buyer that they would have problems with poachers and trespassers if they bought the property and I thought they would be paying way too much in realtor fees ( raw ground only in a very rural area might you )  The purchase was stopped after this and when realtor called me about it - well.... that office doesn't quote survey fees anymore.

Technology killed the need for educated "operators". In my earlier days, all calculations had to be done on flattened tree bark (paper). Now you just need the absolute basic, and which button does what.

Somebody most of us know once said, "we have raised a generation of button pushers". Technology is a tool, it dosen't replace knowledge. People are doing things with computers that have no clue what they are doing.

People are walking around and supposedly surveying without a clue yes but who's letting it happen?

I used to enjoy doing things to "long way" back in the 80's but I wouldn't swap my robotic total station, GNSS receiver and CAD for a two man team, traversing control and CAD.

In the UK at least the whole set up is far too informal and lacking statutory regulation so as long as the industry allows the "button pressers" to call themselves and operate as surveyors nothing will change. 

Ian, can you please briefly outline or send a link to the UK educational requirements, if those are readily available.


That's the point. There aren't any. Anyone can call themselves a land surveyor in the UK. No minimum qualification, no mandatory system of registration and/or certification.

Education? No. The biggest factor that continues to hurt our profession is the industry wide failure to differentiate between engineering surveyors and engineers. Combined this with a lack of any statutory regulation (RICS is now largely irrelevant) and it's little wonder that construction industry management pigeon hole us based upon our use of equipment.

Crickey, they're still asking me for dumpy levels and theodolites so I can't really expect them to understand what differentiates me from an engineer.

In terms of field work I can easily undertake any and all aspects of the daily duties that would be expected of a site engineer. Now despite the fact that very few "engineers" in my experience could make a reciprocal claim, we as professionals are generally viewed as some type of engineer by an industry that quite frankly should know better.

Working for one of the UK's leading civil engineering contractors I continually find that I am regarded as an "unrecoverable overhead" which no part of the wider business is willing to fund and appropriately resource. Instead and with monotonous regularity we spend 100's of thousands every year employing largely unnacountable surveying sub-contractors to carry out over priced work to hugely variable standards based largely on the lowest tender price.

Our industry/profession needs regulation and formal and statutory recognition. Fundamental to this is a requirement that certain tasks should as a minimum be subject to review/supervision by a recognised surveying professional as opposed to some strategically shaved monkey that's managed to work out how to set up a tripod and hire some kit.

In short, what hurts our profession is not education but is the fact that absolutely anyone can call themselves a surveyor.

Wow, I thought we had problems here. I worked for a large construction company in the 70's for a couple of years. I think that was the only company that ever gave me a raise I didn't ask for. I was on the payroll as an engineer but as you said, in construction, anybody that looks through an instrument is an engineer.

I can't solve the world's problems & I don't know all the answers. I do know that before you can ask for money, you have to provide something of value. The more you know, the more you have to sell. Is the pay scale always fair? Not much of anything in life is fair. One of the reasons engineers get paid more is you have to have a 4 yr. BS degree to be a engineer. The State of South Carolina, in their infinite wisdom, decided engineering wasn't surveying & surveying wasn't engineering. Engineers can no longer do surveying unless they have a surveying license. Mainly because they had a lot of problems with engineers doing surveying that were incompetent to do so. I also worked for a large engineering co. in the 70's. My supervisor was a engineering professor at a military college here. He had a surveyors license from another State. S.C. told him that if he wanted a SC Surveyors license, he had to pass the exam. He pitched a fit & wouldn't take the exam, so he didn't get the license.  

A couple other thoughts, we haven't had the 4 yr. degree requirement very long, things often take time. Also, people are not likely to pay more money if you don't ask for it. Surveyors have to know more today than anytime in the past.

I have cut back a good bit & now mostly do boundary retracements. Yes, I use a robotic total station & GPS.

We could do with some of that South Carolina good sense in the UK. The fact is, even engineers don't actually require a qualification here. I've known a good number of engineers who have nothing more than experience behind them. Some have proved to be excellent site operatives but most are just one peg bash from disaster.

A common occurance in the UK today to encounter engineering apprentices and chainpersons operating unsupervised due to the difficulty in recruiting skilled "qualified" personnel.


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