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What Does an Assistant Surveyor Do?

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  • Written By: Andrew Kirmayer
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 30 October 2016
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The job of an assistant surveyor is to measure the dimensions of a given section of land. Taking into account both natural and man-made obstacles and boundaries, an assistant land surveyor uses instruments such as theodolites and total stations to determine angles and distances. These figures are then written down manually or entered into a computer, and the surveyor can also create a sketch based on the calculations performed. The duties of an assistant surveyor are almost always performed outdoors, and someone on the job must be prepared to work regardless of weather conditions.

Survey assistants are also required to clear the way to make sure the line of sight between the instrument and target is not blocked. They must also be skilled in adjusting the instruments according to the application and measurement. Some mathematical skill is necessary, as surveying is reliant on engineering, geometry, and trigonometry skills that can be developed through community college or vocational courses. Land surveying courses are offered in some vocational schools and community colleges. Some employers accept candidates with this level of education, but others require a bachelor’s degree either for initial employment or advancement.

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An assistant surveyor often works on private properties and commercial, industrial, and government owned land parcels as well. A survey can also take place along a roadway prior to a construction project. The assistant land surveyor helps compile all of the data gathered into meaningful information on property boundaries, or relays the details to someone at the next level of the job ladder.

The requirements of an assistant surveyor, as covered by an entry examination, include the ability to compute the mathematical calculations for surveys, such as addition and subtraction as well as trigonometry. An ability to verify actual distances along with elevations, as well as understand aerial photographs, is also required. Property and topographical maps need to be understood as well. A surveyor has to also be able to attribute construction project plans to the measurements that need to be taken.

Some understanding of boundary and land ownership is necessary. Prior to beginning work, an assistant surveyor may be tested on their knowledge of documents commonly used in land acquisition and real estate. The assistant land surveyor sometimes encounters disputes between land owners, so by understanding the associated documents, they can help to work out disagreements on land boundaries. Various other written materials are encountered during a work day as well. If an assistant surveyor demonstrates the required skills well on the job, career advancement is more likely.

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