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How do I Become a Surveyor?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 09 November 2016
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There are several paths to take to become a surveyor. Increasingly, people attend college and get a surveying degree, but this is not the only option, so people who struggle in college may still have a chance at a career in surveying if they are willing to work hard. However one arrives at this career, a surveyor is someone who is capable of taking precise measurements to map out boundaries and known areas, doing everything from helping companies make maps to filing formal descriptions of real estate with property deeds so that there will not be confusion in the future over property boundaries.

The conventional way to become a surveyor is to receive a bachelor's degree in surveying. Coursework will include extensive mathematics along with classes in surveying, geology, and related topics. College students are often encouraged to work for survey crews during the summer to get real world experience. After graduation, a student can take on an internship for a surveying firm to gain work experience before taking a licensure exam to become a surveyor. Once licensed, a surveyor can work independently, and some like to pursue membership in a professional organization along with certification which indicates special proficiency in the field.

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It is also possible to attend a training program at a technical school or community college to become a surveyor. These courses can be more limited in nature than those offered to students with four year degrees, but they provide students with basic knowledge which they can apply in a professional internship, and later use on a licensure exam. Some areas of the world also allow people to enter the surveying profession after a minimum number of years of professional practice and successful passage of a licensure examination, with no formal education at all.

When training to become a surveyor, students may want to think about whether they want to be geodetic surveyors, working with the land, or hydrographic surveyors, mapping waterways. They may also want to think about how they want to apply their skills, as a number of industries have use for surveyors, including road and highway agencies, county land offices, real estate agencies, mapmaking companies, and environmental organizations.

Once someone has become a land surveyor, for example, he or she could work mapping forests for a timber harvest plan, mapping out homesites for potential real estate developments, or measuring the sites of future roadways to find the best pathways and to help agencies work out land rights. Hydrographic surveyors can help make maps for navigators, chart out watersheds for environmental groups, or map the beds of rivers, lakes, and streams to help geologists learn about how and when they formed.

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