What Does a Freelance Surveyor Do?

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  • Written By: Kristie Lorette
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 03 November 2019
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A surveyor is a professional that determines where tracts of land or areas of the earth begin and end. Surveying is part of the process of creating maps or land surveys for real estate purposes and other purposes. A freelance surveyor is a self-employed individual that performs these duties without working for a specific corporation or company. While the majority of freelance surveyors do measure land, this is not the only natural element that they measure — they may also measure water space and air space.

Freelance surveyors can work for a variety of sources including individuals, companies, real estate corporations and the government. These surveyors not only take measurements of the land, water and air space, but they also describe the area in question. This information may include any mineral resources that are on the property or quantitative measurements of the area.

While the majority of freelance surveyors work to provide information that goes into land deeds, leases and other legal real estate documents, others specialize in particular fields. For example, a freelance surveyor that specializes in geodetic measurements specializes in measuring the vast areas of the earth’s surface. A geophysical freelance surveyor, on the other hand, surveys the earth’s surface searching for petroleum.


Marine or hydrographic freelance surveyors survey bodies of water, including rivers, harbors, bays, oceans and other areas of water. Freelance surveyors use special measuring tools and materials in order to take measurements of the land area. It is common to see a surveyor out on the highway or in some area of town working with a tool that looks similar to a tripod for a camera. As they look through the instrument, it helps them to measure the distance of one area to the next. Most commonly, these types of freelance surveyors are helping construction companies that are building new areas or renovating existing ones.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for surveyors is expected to grow above average by the year 2018. Freelance surveyors are required to obtain a license through the state in which they will be working. Most states require freelance surveyors to complete special courses and pass exams, in addition to obtaining on the job training to work as a surveyor. In the past, a four-year college degree was required to become a freelance surveyor. Advanced courses and access to Internet courses has made it possible for some surveyors to earn their degree in as little as one to three years.


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