Hello everyone! I pose this question to you, What is happening to our profession?


what is happening to the surveying professionYesterday, I was riding to a project site making conversation with one of my younger co-workers workers, and I asked him if he enjoyed surveying. The response I got made me physically ill. He quickly responded by saying, "No, I hate it. Surveying is a deadend job." I was stunned! So I asked him why he felt that way. He proceeded to tell me that when he started working in the surveying field, he wanted to learn any and everything he could about surveying. He would pickup articles or browse through youtube to watch different surveying video clips. Then as time would pass, different jobs were given to him and he wanted to know more about the ins and outs of how the data was processed and how the end result was reached. To his surprise, he was told not to worry about it, just go collect the data. At that point, his interest diminished and he became a button pusher.


First, if we don't explain the reasoning behind the task, then how are we to know the correct data has been collected?  Or worse, if they develop a I don't care attitude or it's just a paycheck, who's to say in what manner they collect the data?  Well, that's close enough or they won't know the difference. Then comes the many return trips to the same site which in the long run cost you more money. Or could end you in court or before your state board.


Second job security is one thing. I know from my own experiences, the more I wanted to learn or inquired, people that I worked with found themselves threaten and began withholding information. So being the Bulldog I am, if you can't go around the bush and you can't jump over it, you go right through it! And that is just what I did! Hence the nickname Bulldog, among others, but that's a different story. I feel it's wrong to stiffle someone's curiousty or their willingness to learn the reasons why they are performing the task at hand.


And Third, who are the surveyors of tomorrow? Kids today are all about video games and feel that they are entitled to these cushy careers they see and hear about on tv or the internet. If we dont feed the curious and the eager to learn, then the professional known as the surveyor will become a dying breed.


Surveying is a hard, demanding job. You have to deal with the elelments, critters, and the occasional upset property owner. For me, being able to retrace an old boundary and recover some of the existing monumentation left by someone else from years gone by is very rewarding. Or even performing construction staking of a Wal-Mart that now I shop at, knowing I set the corners of this structure and walking through the store remembering how hot or cold it was during those days of construction. Remembering setting the blue-tops for the dirt so the concrete could be poured. Knowing I had a part in the construction of this building that will be here for years to come. Not to mention, I have seen some pretty amazing mornings when the sun is just coming up and some gorgeous sunsets as the sun sits below the horizon. I have found some original BLM monuments and seen some really wierd ones as well.


So in closing, I can't help but remember a cartoon I saw in P.O.B. magazine, you all know the one I am talking about, where the Rod-man wants to be the Instrument-man, the Instrument-man wants to be the Party-chief, Party-Chief wants to be the Surveyor with his feet kicked up on the desk. And the the Surveyor wants to be the Rod-man. I will take the field anyday.


So again, I ask the question, "What is happening to our profession?" I will continue to do my part, how about you?




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  • Government Professional

    I think this is not a problem it´s just an opinion, remember that in the chain you mentioned there is a surveyor that is responsible for the whole work that is done, and some times the only thing that he needs is a "button pusher" that may become a future surveyor or not, and once again I must say that license weights here.Anyone can push a button but not anyone is responsible for the survey, it has to be a licensed surveyor.

    Is our profession changing into just button pushing? I don´t think so, but what if I am wrong? What if in the near future it will? who will have the responsibility then? I´m sure that a licensed surveyor.

    If we are capable to keep the professional profile as a previously formal educated person that can take the responsiblility to do the job acording to the law, that button pusher will have to continue his formal education to know the "how and why" and will become a licensed surveyor.

    A licensed surveyor is not only an instrument operator, that is what it has to be known for the society.

  • I would say yes to RTK and RTN. They are a real time saver.
    • What’s happening to our profession is in part the same thing that has happened to a lot professions. New gear, faster systems and a new set of work values has changed the work place. We can all learn to run the new systems if we chose to but some never will, some will do limited parts of it and others will push the limits because that is how people have always been.  Christopher said he thinks the problem is with the older guys, which is my group, for not pasting down what we know or not being a mentor.  I think you would find that in any group of people there are those that will just get by and they don’t teach because they just do a task but don’t understand the task.  The ones that do understand still need to know how to mentor or teach what they know and there has to be a person on the other side that wants to learn.


      Love the line above that training is not mentoring and experience is not expertise.  I would also like to add that being shown how to something is not learning about something.


      • I am bothered by commentary in which some of us decide we know that older surveyors don't want to learn and are resistant to new technology  the words dinosaurs, older guys, etc. are being used in a derogatory fashion.  It is unbecoming for someone in the surveying profession to make that kind of derogatory remarks about someone else in the profession.....MY IMMEDIATE REACTION IS  "What an unprofessional way to represent our profession!!"

        Remember what Abraham Lincoln said "Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones", or if you want to go way back, how about the well known comment  "He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone"..I really don't believe we do our profession any good by spreading commentary about how some in our profession are "behind the times"

        or "not with it", etc., etc.  Lets not try to elevate ourselves by knocking others down.

        For those who believe we need to improve ourselves as professionals (I am one of those), lets start "at home". Home is us...lets help ourselves.

        Technology is great, Mentoring is great, Education is great, expertise is great, experience is great, and on and on and on.........but REMEMBER, on of the biggest parts of being a professional in any profession is BEHAVIOR.....LETS NOT BE TRYING TO ESTABLISH who is expert, who isn't, etc. etc.  Lets all pull together to make each other all we can be!!

        I believe all of us having a positive attitude about helping each other is requisite to this pursuit of "perfection".

        David C. Garcelon


    I am 70 years old and do my work with a Wild T-1000 & DI 1000. I prepare my plans with autocad. I am happy that I have not been left to far behind by technology.  am wondering wheter it is still worthwhile for me to invest in an RTK. I still go out to the field and climb hill. If there is any mountain to climb, Ill do it.


    • Scott,

      A great topic and well worth trying to understand "what is happening to our profession?"

      There are so many aspects to it. An outline breaking down the many aspects of it is in and of itself a rather long winded but necessary way to analyze where we are in our profession.

      A few of the many specific subjects that I believe affect our profession are (the order I have them in does not indicate their importance):  1) Mentoring; 2) Education; 3) Experience;  4) Enthusiasm; 5) Critical Analysis; 6) Ability to accept critical analysis of ones own work, 7) Professionalism, What is it?; 8) Respect for others; 9) Desire to excel: 10) Qualities of Character; 11) Understanding the "Technology" and using it well,  and on and on.

      I will try to spur on conversation about a couple of these. 1) Mentoring.  I had the very good fortune of have mentors who were at the top of the profession. Their knowledge and enthusiasm for the profession was invaluable.  MENTORING is so very valuable.  Remember, a self taught man has a fool for a teacher!  3) Critical Analysis.  The fast fading ability to perform critical analysis due to the ability to "push buttons" IS VERY REAL and could very well doom the profession. To me, a perfect example is the growing belief among surveyors that establishing property corner positions with World Co-ordinates  on them indicates the sad lack of understanding of the two components of title, 1) location of title and  2) ownership of title.

      There are many more aspects to the question you raised, and they are well worth addressing.

      My career as a Surveyor/Forester/Civil Engineer began in the early 1960's, and I was taught to try and improve myself and the profession, so my concern, apparently like yours, is what I call the lack of humanity that is taking over the profession, ie, the willingness to believe the technology is smarter than us and allow the technology to think for us.  NOT SO. Surveying is not only a science, it is also an art!

      David Garcelon


  • I am friends with a few surveyors who have retired or are close to retiring. I myself am 59 years old and have been surveying for over 35 years. I feel that my career is just getting started. I have encouraged my friends to get into technology or they will soon be a dinosaur. Guess what, they did not wrap their arms around the changing technology and worked themselves out of a job and basically forced them to retire.
    • Mr. Crume what's really sad is these men have gems inside their brains. Stories to tell, techniques that were cutting edge in the sense that they helped get jobs done in the best way possible. It's a shame that the talent was in a sense wasted and now put in the bone yard so to speak.

      Even though we do not pull chains, we still need those lessons that were learned by Surveyors from yesteryear. When I am trying to fight my way through the woods, technology doesn't help me cut line more efficiently nor does it keep things(Stakes for example) dry when the rain is at its worst.

      Professionals such as yourself are indeed an asset! The younger generation looks up to you and feed off the words you speak. 

  • Reasoned responses from people I respect. 

  • Those who know me will groan they've heard me say this so often: "A REAL surveyor is a professional (no matter the certificates on his wall). A professional is identified by his ability and willingness to PROFESS!"

    Profess is the root of the word professional.


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