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Also known as:
City Surveyor, County Surveyor, Geodetic Surveyor, Geophysical Prospecting Surveyor, Land Surveyor, Mine Surveyor, Mineral Surveyor, Registered Land Surveyor, Topographical Surveyor

Video transcript

Surveyors and mapping scientists pinpoint the location of property and mark its outlines. They measure and map the surface of the earth. Their work serves to establish official boundaries for land, air space, and waterways.

Surveyors determine how a parcel of land lies and write descriptions for deeds, leases, and other legal documents. They also define airspace for airports and measure construction, utility, and mineral sites. The vast majority of surveyors work for engineering services or the government.

A bachelor's degree is usually required or training at junior and community colleges, technical or vocational schools. Most states require a license, for which the "straightest line" is 4 years of college, 2 to 4 years of experience, and an examination. A mapping scientist, or cartographer, usually has a bachelor's degree in a field such as engineering, forestry, geography, or a physical science.

This profession draws on the information of surveyors and surveying technicians to prepare maps. Cartographers analyze and interpret both geographical information and social data such as population size and density. Their work should be both artistically pleasing and meticulously accurate.

These are not fast-growing fields, though jobs will continue to become available as experienced professionals retire.

The surveying of land requires preparation, scheduling, and fieldwork. Some of the equipment has evolved through centuries, such as measuring tapes and tripods with viewfinders. But today, high technology is brought to bear on the process. Several satellites link a global positioning system to the survey team's receiver, for the latest in accuracy.

Other advancements include improved aerial photography and geographic information systems, which are computerized data banks of special information. What has not changed is the need to spend a lot of time outdoors hiking and climbing to find just the right spot to take a measurement.

Make exact measurements and determine property boundaries. Provide data relevant to the shape, contour, gravitation, location, elevation, or dimension of land or land features on or near the earth's surface for engineering, mapmaking, mining, land evaluation, construction, and other purposes.
Critical decision making
Level of responsibilities
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
Dealing and handling conflict
Competition for this position
Communication with others
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
Comfort of the work setting
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
Exposure to job hazards
Physical demands
Daily tasks

Testify as an expert witness in court cases on land survey issues, such as property boundaries.

Survey bodies of water to determine navigable channels and to secure data for construction of breakwaters, piers, and other marine structures.

Adjust surveying instruments to maintain their accuracy.

Conduct research in surveying and mapping methods using knowledge of techniques of photogrammetric map compilation and electronic data processing.

Direct aerial surveys of specified geographical areas.

Develop criteria for survey methods and procedures.

Plan and conduct ground surveys designed to establish baselines, elevations, and other geodetic measurements.

Determine longitudes and latitudes of important features and boundaries in survey areas, using theodolites, transits, levels, and satellite-based global positioning systems (GPS).

Establish fixed points for use in making maps, using geodetic and engineering instruments.

Coordinate findings with the work of engineering and architectural personnel, clients, and others concerned with projects.

Calculate heights, depths, relative positions, property lines, and other characteristics of terrain.

Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Interacting With Computers Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Documenting/Recording Information Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Processing Information Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
Analyzing Data or Information Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Mathematics Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Engineering and Technology Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
Customer and Personal Service Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Law and Government Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Geography Knowledge of principles and methods for describing the features of land, sea, and air masses, including their physical characteristics, locations, interrelationships, and distribution of plant, animal, and human life.
Computers and Electronics Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Design Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
Mathematics Using mathematics to solve problems.
Speaking Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Reading Comprehension Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Writing Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Time Management Managing one's own time and the time of others.
Coordination Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.