How to Become a Land Surveyor

How to Become a Land Surveyor: Career Path Guide

If you have a great attention to detail, you enjoy working both outdoors and with computers, and you are able to demonstrate academic commitment, then a career as a professional land surveyor may be well suited for you.


Below we've outlined what you'll need to become a land surveyor. We've also included helpful information for a land surveyor career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!




Education Needed to Become a Land Surveyor

The educational requirements needed to become a land surveyor can vary from licensing body to licensing body, and from employer to employer. The most common education needed to become a land surveyor is a four-year bachelor’s degree in the field of Geomatics Engineering.  


You may also choose to pursue an education in a geomatics program at a two year diploma granting college. If you choose this route, you will be qualified to work entry-level unlicensed surveying jobs, and will need to pass additional exams through the Canadian Board of Examiners for Professional Surveyors in order to become a professional licensed land surveyor in Canada.


Land surveyors also need a good understanding of mathematics, physics, cartography, earth sciences and computer programming in order to become successful in their careers.




Land Surveyor Job Description

Land surveyors conduct field surveys for future building projects in order to determine the exact locations of natural land features and formations. Land surveyors use a wide variety of surveying and computer equipment, including global positioning systems, electronic distance measuring instruments and digital mapping systems.



Land Surveyor Job Duties

• Determine the exact locations and relative positions of natural features on the earth’s surface, underground and underwater

• Determine points of elevation and contours in the land

• Extensive use of GPS equipment

• May supervise the work of unlicensed assistants

• Collect and analyze data

• Develop appropriate skills to keep up with technological advancements

• Prepare drafts and drawings based on collected data using computer aided design programs

• Liaise with geodetic technologists, engineers, land developers and other specialists



Who Hires Land Surveyors?

There are many different types of organizations that can utilize the skills of a land surveyor, including:


• Construction and mining companies

• Real estate development companies

• Professional survey companies

• Geomatics firms

• Self-employment

• Federal, provincial/state and municipal government




Applications of Land Surveying

Land surveyors are employed for many purposes, including:


• Civil and environmental engineering

• Geophysical surveying for map creation

• Determining legal boundaries

• Mining and mineral exploration 




Becoming a Professional Land Surveyor: Licensing

In many states and provinces, land surveying is a regulated profession. To become a professional land surveyor, you may need to become licensed by the governing body of land surveyors in your state or province, and be a member of that association. If you are not licensed, you may typically still work in surveying as a technician or a technologist under the supervision of a licensed professional. Some examples of membership and licensing requirements include:


• Be of good character

• Be at least 18 years of age

• Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of the state/province in which the organization exists

• Meet the educational requirements; these are normally met by obtaining a four-year university degree in geomatics or geomatic engineering from an accredited educational institution

• Complete a Term of Articles (practical experience requirement)

• Attend a Professional Lecture course and pass the Professional Examination.



Land Surveyor Salary

The salary level for land surveyors can vary widely depending on many factors, such as who the employer is, how much experience the technician has and others.


Land Manager Salary Alberta: According to the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Land Surveyors occupational group earned on average from $27.01 to $43.46 an hour.


Land Manager Salary Ontario: In Ontario, salary figures from 2005 show that the average annual employment income for land surveyors employed full-time was $58,430. Further to this information, an informal in 2010 conducted by The Association of Ontario Land Surveyors indicated that an experienced licensed Ontario Land Surveyor/Land Information Professional can expect to earn more than $100,000 per year.



Personal Characteristics Needed to Succeed as a Land Surveyor

All of the education and training in the world won’t you help you truly succeed in your career as a land surveyor unless you have most, if not all, of the following personality characteristics:


• A strong aptitude for mathematics and computers

• The ability to visualize objects, distances and sizes

• The ability to work outdoors with precise electronic surveying instruments

• Strong analytical and organizational skills

• Tremendous working patience and attention to detail

• The ability to work effectively in a team environment

• Good communication skills.

• Able to utilize equipment and instruments in a precise and accurate manner



Land Surveyor Jobs

Our job board below has "Land Surveyor" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.

Careers Related to Land Surveyor

Listed below are jobs that are similar in nature to Land Surveyor, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


Biological Technologist

Botanical Field Technician

Environmental Technician

Forest Technician

Geomatics Plan Technician

Geoscience Technician



References: Land Surveyor Career

Please consult the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a land surveyor.


Occupations in Alberta:Land Surveyor.” (March 31, 2018). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved December 29, 2019.

Architecture & Engineering:Surveying and Mapping Technicians.” (September 4, 2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved December 29, 2019.

Explore Careers: Survey Technician.” (n.d.). ECO Canada website. Retrieved December 29, 2019.



Scholarships for Becoming a Land Surveyor

Scholarships listed for majors that apply to becoming a Land Surveyor can be found on the following pages:


Environmental Engineering Scholarships

Geography Scholarships

Geology Scholarships


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Becoming a Geodetic Land Surveyor: Applicable Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming a land surveyor. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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