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 this occupation, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!




Educational Requirements

The educational requirements needed to become a land surveyor can vary from licensing body to licensing body, and from employer to employer. The most likely education you'll need 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 be 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.


They use a wide variety of surveying and computer equipment, including global positioning systems, electronic distance measuring instruments and digital mapping systems.



Typical 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 Employs 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 actual wages and salaries of land surveyors can vary greatly, typically depending on the following factors:


• Their level of education and experience

• The amount of responsibility inherent in their job

• The size and type of their employer, or whether or not they're self-employed

• The region in which they work


Unfortunately, there is no salary data available from government sources for the profession of ‘land surveyor’. We can however, get a good idea of what they earn by looking at the earnings of workers in closely related occupations.


Land Surveyor Salary in Alberta: According to the 2019 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, the average salary level of Albertans working in the “Land Surveyor” occupational group is $70,848 per year,


Salary - British Columbia: According to WorkBC (Province of British Columbia), those working in the “Land Surveyors” occupational group earn an annual provincial median salary of $58,240.


Salary - United States: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of Americans working in the “Surveyors” occupational group is $62,580 per year.



Personal Characteristics Needed to Succeed

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



Current Job Postings

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



Similar Career Guides in Our System

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




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.

Explore Careers:Land Surveyors.” (December 11, 2018). WorkBC website. Retrieved February 15, 2020.

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!



Relevant University Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point for a career in this field. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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