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All US states and many countries require a candidate to pass a series of examinations administered by an accrediting body to become a registered surveyor. In the US, surveying licensure is ultimately governed by the states and requires a combination of education, job experience, and passage of licensing exams. In general, the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) grants licensure once a surveyor has passed two exams. Individual states and other countries may have alternate or additional requirements, so it’s best to contact an individual state or country’s professional governing body for requirements to become a registered surveyor.
Most US states require that a surveyor hold a bachelor’s degree from a program accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) to become a registered surveyor. Common degree programs for surveyors include geomatics, land surveying and mapping, or geographic information science. As not all states require a bachelor’s degree for licensure, many community colleges offer two- or three-year programs in surveying technology.
Graduates of shorter programs can gain valuable job experience as a surveyor or surveyor’s assistant prior to completing the rest of the required education to become a registered surveyor. Frequently, this work, if performed under proper supervision of an experienced surveyor, can help meet the job experience requirements of the registration and licensure process. Even in states that do not require a bachelor’s degree for licensure, a bachelor’s degree is highly sought after as a minimum requirement for many jobs and can make a surveyor job candidate more competitive.
The next step to become a registered surveyor is to take and pass the Fundamentals of Surveying (FS) exam administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). The FS exam is usually taken shortly before completion of the degree program. After passing this exam, in most cases a surveyor must work for four years under the supervision of a registered surveyor.
Finally, to become a registered surveyor, a candidate must take the second exam, the Principles and Practice of Surveying. Depending on state or country requirements, additional state-administered or other examinations may be required to become a registered surveyor. In many countries, the steps toward licensure to become a registered surveyor are similar to those of the US and are subject to the requirements of the regional licensing governing body. After licensing, most regions have continuing education requirements to keep licensed registered surveyors current with new developments in the field.