Certified land surveyors measure boundaries. For example, a surveyor described the size of the piece of land on which your house sits, if you own one. Their survey marks where the utility lines are allowed to run, where your fence should be, and where your property ends and the city's sidewalk begins. Surveyors also can define air spaces around airports, mark locations to be explored for oil or work in the ocean to help map its floor or to define the boundaries between national and international waters.
Research your state's requirements. Certified surveyors receive licenses from the state, so you will need to meet the requirements in your state to receive a license. Once you have a license, you also may be eligible to be licensed in other states through a process called licensure by comity.
Meet your particular state's education requirements. For example, Washington, Tennessee and New York all allow you to reduce your work experience requirement if you have a four-year degree in land surveying. If you do not meet the education requirement, you probably will need to have more work experience. For example, Tennessee requires two years of work experience if you have a bachelor's in land surveying, but 10 years of work experience if you do not have a bachelor's degree in any field.
Obtain enough work experience to meet your state's requirement. While you will not be able to work on your own as a licensed and certified land surveyor, you can work under an existing surveyor assisting them with their engagements. In New York state, for example, you need to have eight years of experience, although they will take two years off the requirement if you have an associate's in land surveying and an additional two for a bachelor's in land surveying.
Pass your state's required examination. Many states use a set of two exams issued by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying. The Fundamentals of Surveying exam typically is taken when an applicant is nearing the completion of an undergraduate degree. The NCEES' Principles and Practice of Surveying exam usually is taken by people who have at least four years of experience working under a surveyor and usually is one of the last steps in the process of getting a license. In addition, some states also require a state-specific examination.
Obtain a license. Once you have completed all of your state-required education and experience, you are eligible to apply for a license. Complete your state's application form, attach copies of your transcripts to verify your educational achievements, attach documentation of your work experience if your state requires it, attach your exam results and enclose your application fee. Once you receive your license, you are qualified to create your own certified land surveys.
- BLS.gov: Occupational Outlook Handbook - Surveyors
- NCEES: Surveyors
- NCEES: Licensure
- New York State Office of the Professions: Professional Engineering & Land Surveying / License Requirements
- New York State Office of the Professions: Education Law - Article 145, Professional Engineering and Land Surveying
- Washington State Licensing: How to Get your Land Surveyor License by Exam
- Tennessee Board of Examiners for Land Surveyors: Frequently Asked Questions
- NCEES: FS Exam
- NCEES: PS Exam
Steve Lander has been a writer since 1996, with experience in the fields of financial services, real estate and technology. His work has appeared in trade publications such as the "Minnesota Real Estate Journal" and "Minnesota Multi-Housing Association Advocate." Lander holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Columbia University.