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How Do I Get a Land Surveyor License?

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  • Written By: Amy Rodriguez
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 24 November 2016
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Obtaining a land surveyor license involves earning a bachelor's degree, taking a preliminary license test, and acquiring field experience. Land surveyors must be well versed in general surveying fundamentals, such as software mapping and mathematical computations. In the United States, surveyors must understand the specific regulations implemented by their state of residence. An individual cannot practice as a professional land surveyor without a proper license and continuing education in surveying.

Most land surveyors earn a four year college degree in a related field, such as engineering or mathematics. Surveyors must be able to perform complex calculations, including trigonometry and calculus, to correctly analyze a land form. A well rounded background in science and math will help you begin a successful surveying career. Additionally, specialized courses on global positioning systems (GPS) and cartography are normally required prior to earning a land surveyor license. These niche classes are designed specifically for aspiring surveyors.

Many surveying students take a fundamentals test just before college graduation to begin the journey toward a land surveyor license. This basic entry level test asks over 100 questions regarding common surveying regulations and data acquisition practices. The fundamentals test must be passed before you can work in the field. Passing this test ensures that you understand core surveying theories, allowing the future field experience to build on that knowledge.

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Field experience is one of the best ways of solidifying surveying theories and applying them in real world projects. In the field, you will work with an experienced surveyor to complete the day's surveying work. Carrying heavy equipment and enduring long walks are a normal part of the job, requiring you to maneuver up and down rural hills or negotiate urban street intersections. Most surveying work occurs in the field, while office work is normally reserved for analyzing data and creating maps of surveyed areas.

Within the United States, each state requires a specific amount of time in the field before a person may obtain a land surveyor license. After completing the necessary field experience, the surveyor can take the final license exam. This exam is similar to the fundamentals test, but asks more in-depth questions regarding legal parameters and business applications. If you successfully pass this exam, you will earn your land surveyor license.

As a professional land surveyor, you must still continue your education to keep current with surveying regulations. Classes are often offered throughout the year, covering new laws and even surveying instrumentation. Software and hardware for surveying professionals is constantly changing, requiring the surveyors to stay involved with continuing education for successful field and office work.

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