Surveyors picture    Surveyors image


Surveyors provide data regarding the location, shape, contour, elevation or dimensions of land or land features. Surveyors set official land, water and airspace boundaries. They provide written descriptions of land for leases, deeds and other types of legal documents. They also take measurements of construction and mineral sites. Some surveyors define airspace for airports.

Surveyors measure directions, distances and angles between points on, below and above the surface of the earth. A surveyor utilizes specialized equipment to determine the precise location of important features in the survey area. They use the Global Positioning System to locate reference points with a high degree of precision.

Geophysical prospecting surveyors mark sites for subsurface exploration, typically to search for petroleum. Geodetic surveyors measure large areas of the earth's surface using high-accuracy techniques, including satellite observations. Marine or hydraulic surveyors survey rivers, harbors and other bodies of water in order to determine shorelines, water depth, the topography of the bottom and other features.

Some sample job titles are land surveyor, county surveyor, geodesist, mine surveyor, professional land surveyor and licensed land surveyor.


  • Evaluate data to determine the location of boundary lines
  • Perform surveys to establish legal boundaries for properties based on legal deeds and titles
  • Research legal records, land titles and surveys to obtain information regarding property boundaries
  • Develop and maintain maps, sketches, legal descriptions and reports of surveys
  • Look for evidence of previous boundaries
  • Prepare plots, reports and maps
  • Provide testimony in court regarding their work or the work of other surveyors
  • Calculate depths, heights, property lines, relative positions and other characteristics of terrain/li>
  • Verify the accuracy of survey data including measurements and calculations performed at survey sites
  • Write descriptions of property boundary surveys for use in leases, deeds and other legal documents

Job Characteristics

Surveyors usually work 40 hours a week and spend a lot of time outdoors. They sometimes walk far distances and climb hills with heavy backpacks containing instruments and other equipment. They also stand for long periods of time. Travel is sometimes part of the occupation. They also may temporarily live near a surveyor site. In addition, a surveyor needs to work with precision and accuracy. They also need good analytical skills.

Employment Outlook

The employment growth for surveyors has been forecasted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to be 15 percent from 2008 to 2018. The median annual wages for surveyors in 2008 was $52,980. The highest paid 10 percent earned more than $85,620.

Education, Certification, and Licensing

Most surveyors need a bachelor's degree in surveying or a related field. Many vocational schools and community colleges provide one-year, two-year and three-year programs in surveying or surveying technology.

Every state licenses surveyors. For licensure, most state licensing boards require applicants to pass a series of written examinations provided by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying. Most states also require surveyors to pass a written examination developed by the state licensing board.

The requirements for education and training vary among the states. An increasing number of states require surveyors to have a bachelor's degree in surveying or in a closely related subject such as civil engineering or forestry, regardless of the number of years of experience. Some states require surveyors to have a degree from a school that has received accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.


Major Employers

The primary employers are the architectural, engineering and related services industry, surveying services firms, drafting services firms, and federal, state and local government agencies.

Schools for Surveyors are listed in the Browse Schools Section.

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for

Listed below are the 10 largest metro areas based on the total number of people employed in Surveyors jobs , as of 2016

Metro Area Total Employment Annual Mean Salary
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land 1,550 $65,780
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim 1,110 $86,570
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach 850 $65,930
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington 770 $61,810
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood 710 $63,550
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell 640 $57,130
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn 600 $53,550
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward 590 $90,320
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater 540 $73,990
San Diego-Carlsbad 510 $78,650

Compare Total Employment & Salaries for Surveyors

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Total employment and salary for professions similar to surveyors

Most Popular Industries for

These industries represent at least 1% of the total number of people employed in this occupation.

Industry Total Employment Percent Annual Median Salary
Professional And Technical Services 44,470 80% $52,030
Government 5,460 9% $61,320
Civil Engineering 2,280 4% $51,480
Construction 1,130 2% $55,000
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We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Surveyors.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.

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