How to Become a Surveyor

By Eric Hammer

So you want to become a surveyor, huh? Becoming a surveyor is a great idea if you love working outdoors and you love working with your hands. Basically, what a surveyor does is to check on a piece of land and figure out where the boundaries of it are. It's kind of like being a cartographer, however there is much more to it than that.

Surveyors also figure out what a particular piece of land is like and they make lists of properties of a piece of land. So for example, they'll not the slope and angle of a piece of land rather than simply demarcating the borders.

Some surveyors will also take detailed geological surveys which can help determine if there is something underneath the land that may be worth exploiting (for example, there may be mineral or oil deposits). These kinds of surveyors are actually in high demand these days because they have special training which ordinary surveyors don't have and they can therefore command a premium for their services.

How Much Can You Make?

According to the bureau of labor statistics, the average salary for a surveyor in 2008 was $55,980. However, surveyors who work in more specialized fields can command a premium for their services.

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Remember that being a surveyor requires an eye for detail and requires that you enjoy working outside and inside. In addition to taking details about a piece of land down, you'll also need to research legal records in order to find out if a claim to a piece of land seems legitimate or not. This means that you need to be something of a jack of all trades since the work is so varied as opposed to most other professions.

You also need to be able to visualize a space in your mind's eye so that you can effectively survey a piece of land. Otherwise, you'll never be able to keep track of it, even if you perform the measurements correctly.

Qualifications / Requirements

While you don't have to have a college degree in order to become a surveyor, it definitely helps, especially if you are trying to get into one of the higher paid, specialized fields of surveying as opposed to being a general surveyor. In all cases, you'll need a minimum of certain courses and a state license in order to work as a surveyor, though you can work as an assistant without any prior knowledge.

First Steps

Start by taking a temp or summer job as a surveyor's assistant. See what the job is like and ask lots of questions. This way, you'll know if this is something you really want to do with your life or if it's something that you would just as soon never do again. Then, go to school and earn the certification and or degrees you'll need to become a surveyor.

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