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.

Surveyors Skills

Below are the skills needed to be surveyors according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

Skill NameImportanceCompetence
Critical Thinking3.884
Reading Comprehension3.884
Active Listening3.753.88

Surveyors Knowledge

Below are the knowledge areas needed to be surveyors according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

Knowledge AreaImportanceCompetence
Engineering and Technology44.52
Customer and Personal Service3.844.71
Law and Government3.844.45
English Language3.834.33

Surveyors Work activities

Below are the work activities involved in being surveyors according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

Work ActivityImportanceCompetence
Making Decisions and Solving Problems4.615.39
Interacting With Computers4.454.19
Getting Information4.424.87
Documenting/Recording Information4.354.9
Processing Information4.325.42

Surveyors Work styles

Below are the work styles involved in being surveyors according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

Work StyleImportance
Attention to Detail4.7
Analytical Thinking4.47

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 2018

Metro AreaTotal EmploymentAnnual Mean Salary
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land1,430 $62,990
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim1,050 $93,400
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach970 $62,290
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington940 $58,560
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood930 $68,520
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale710 $61,330
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward660 $90,470
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell560 $65,070
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue520 $91,810
Oklahoma City500 $51,470

Compare Total Employment & Salaries for Surveyors

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Total employment and salary for professions similar to surveyors

Source : 2018 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics,; O*NET® 23.1 Database, O*NET OnLine, National Center for O*NET Development, Employment & Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor,

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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.