Job description

Surveyors work on construction projects, engineering initiatives and mapmaking efforts by making exact measurements to find out property boundaries. They gather and record data that is relevant to the contour and shape of the earth’s surface and geodetic measurements.


    • Perform ground surveys to list baselines, elevations and other geodetic measurements
    • Conduct or supervise surveys to set up legal boundaries as part of measurements
    • Visit worksites to set up equipment and get prepared with necessary work safety gear
    • Adjust surveying instruments when necessary to ensure accurate readings and data compilation
    • Make calculations (heights and depths) of property lines, relative positions and boundaries
    • Confer with colleagues on criteria for survey tactics
    • Supervise staff in survey proposal preparation and explain the day’s directives
    • Prepare, produce and update maps and reports to describe the work being performed
    • Gather physical survey data by searching for legal records about the area’s property boundaries
    • Jot down technical design details by composing charts, plots and maps from survey data
    • Collaborate with engineering and architectural staff to reveal your findings
    • Insert geodetic measurements into the computer to interpret geomorphic and topographic features
    • Understand longitudes and latitudes in survey areas utilising theodolites and global positioning systems (GPS)
    • Lead aerial surveying in geographical locations

Skills and qualities

Attention to detail
Time management
Critical thinking

Job outlook

Projected growth
The projected growth rate of employment in the US from 2018 to 2028, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme. The national average growth rate for all professions is 5%.


New jobs
The number of jobs projected to become available in the US between 2018 and 2028, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme.


Automation risk
The probability of computerisation, based on data published in ‘The Future of Employment’, a 2013 working paper by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne.


Career progression

With experience and through continued education and training, surveyors can advance to supervisory or management positions, such as survey manager, survey party chief, survey project manager or survey superintendent.

Working conditions

Average hours

40h/ week

Typical schedule

Full Time

Some overtime

A surveyor’s working hours do not typically exceed 40 hours a week, but some overtime is to be expected, especially when leading up to deadlines or if the government has given project leaders a mandate to speed up the process.

Surveyors primarily work on a job site, and travel is often required. They work in all types of weather conditions, such as unbearable heat or bitter cold.


Bottom 10%




Top 10%


Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.

Qualifications and training

Education level


Bachelor’s degree in surveying or related subject

Study time

4 years

Surveyors generally need to possess a bachelor’s degree in surveying, mapping or geomatics. They must also be licensed.

Do note that licensing criteria and standards vary by state. That said, you will typically need to meet the necessary education requirements, pass the Fundamentals of Surveying (FS) exam, work under a licensed surveyor and pass the Principles and Practice of Surveying (PPS) exam.

Last Updated: Wednesday, November 2, 2022

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