• The new house on the corner

  • The bridge repair on the highway 

  • The expanded city park

  • The new mine in the mountains

  • The updated map of the shoreline

Before these things could ever be built, land surveyors had to give their stamp of approval!

Stamp on paper icon

New York City with view of city park and many buildings

What do land surveyors do?

One thing is for sure: they do NOT fill out online surveys about the land!

As a surveyor, you would carefully measure specific land areas for construction, engineering, and mapmaking projects.

Most surveyors work for governments, construction companies, or independent surveying agencies.

Check out the video below for more details:

Day to Day

You would use specialized GPS measuring instruments to conduct fieldwork. Your work locations might include: 

  • Construction sites

  • Deep wilderness

  • Underwater landscapes (!)

After your fieldwork, you use computer software to analyze your measurements. You may also work with geographic information systems (GIS) software to produce more detailed analyses of the land you’re studying.

You may do this computer work at a mobile field office or a permanent office location.

Who Uses Surveying Results?

You’re taking measurements for a company or government entity, so next, you report your findings to them. They may need to answer questions like: 

Flaticon Icon Where are the property lines?

Flaticon Icon Where is it safe to build?

Most likely, you'll work on a team with other surveyors or surveying technicians. Depending on your specialty, you may also collaborate with architects, civil engineers, cartographers, and/or urban planners.

Qualifying to be a Surveyor

Education & Training

Person pacing and looking focused while holding papers in one hand and pen sideways in mouth In the US and Canada, you'd need a surveyor's license or certificate. The requirements for this credential vary by location, but in general, they include:

  • A bachelor’s degree in a related subject

  • Work experience under a licensed surveyor (apprenticeship/articling)

  • Passing exams

Once you get your surveyor's license, you can also expect to complete continuing education to maintain your credential.

Skills & Personality Fit

Puzzle pieces fitting together

Land surveying may be a good fit if you

  • Can visualize new objects

  • Enjoy solving problems

  • Can communicate well with a variety of people

  • Like working in different locations

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It may not be a good fit if you

  • Can't or prefer not to do physical work

  • Prefer the big picture over details

  • Do not enjoy mathematics, especially algebra, geometry, and trigonometry

Consider the following people:

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Alex has a degree in mechanical engineering but prefers leading hiking trips over being stuck in an office every day. 

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Blair did well in mathematics and science in school and wants a consistent, predictable 9-to-5 job.

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Courtney enjoys hands-on building projects, but not the careful planning they sometimes involve.

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Dylan manages a retail store but wants to move into the growing local construction industry.


For which people might surveying be a good career move?

Job Outlook

Average Salaries

Flaticon Icon $78,000

In the US, the number of land surveyor jobs is expected to grow 5% by 2032, which is faster than the average field.

Flaticon Icon $83,000

In Canada, the field is expanding in many provinces and territories.

Take Action

Clip from The Simpsons: Adult uses surveying tool while child says,


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