Land Surveyor Community Forum

Tough Times

I'm a self employed PLS struggling through these times and now working a second job just to get by. What are all you others doing these days and are you working and what type of surveying are you doing ?


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  • Tough times abound.  We rely on superior product and reputation to survive.  When the phone doesn't ring, we don't get paid.  I've been playing music in a band to supplement my income. 

    By the grace of God, some work trickles in at just the right time to pay the bills.  Work tapers off, but the bills come every month like clockwork.

    I am also a self employed surveyor and it ain't easy sometimes.

  • Here is a post about some surveying positions that just opened up, with offices across the United States...
  • I am working -- working on how to go about proper marketing and networking.  I am also working at almost half the salary I was in 2008, but in a different local economy. Rather than doing engineering-support land surveying in an area with a high cost-of-living-index, I have relocated to a new home in an area with a low cost-of-living-index where the rich are not spending, rather it has been the "land rich, but dollar poor" landowners who have called me for what I call "the wrong reason".    The wrong reason, to me, is that it is not mainly for personal gain, but for personal financial survival.  Now, I must expect that during these hard times that there will be people and companies that are placed in a situation that they are required to have a survey of their lands.  This may not be my favorite market (in fact, my best clients are those that actually want a survey of their lands for "the right reason"), but my personal financial survival depends on those whose personal financial survival needs include my professional services.  For the moment, it's a sad way to make a living, but it remains the profession that I love.

    -Scott D. Warner, RLS

  • Party Chief

    When the going gets tough, the tough get to teaching, ah Karl?


  • These are the toughest times I have lived through. I have been in business 20 years and been surveying since 1978. Never seen it like this...ever. I am continuing to work at my business but the last 4 months have been the slowest ever. I have passed the time by painting, writing and tweaking the various forms, base drawings and websites associated with the business. I am a boundary surveyor and always have been. When I started out I took anything I could get however. First 3 or 4 years the business was almost all residential Land Titles. We moved into commercial Land Titles almost exclusively after 1996 or so because I would not engage in "no close, no pay" arrangements on the residential Land Titles. We did commercial Land Titles almost exclusively until around 2001. The changes in the Insurance laws (owner affidavits) here in Texas combined with the rise of "Survey brokers" ended all of that around 2002. We moved into engineering support, subdivision platting and expert witness services from 2002 to 2007 (Dec.) when all of my clients went broke. Prices for surveys dropped to next to nothing and there was little or no development or purchases going on after 2007 (Dec.). I have managed to hang on by not dropping my prices, turning out a superior product and developing expert witness clients. I would say expert witness fees compose almost 30% of my current business at this point. The rest is an occasional commercial or residential development,  Standard Land Survey or elevation certificate. I am uncertain if it will ever come back but I guess I am stubborn, I plan to die Land Surveying.
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