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Summary

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Video transcript available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xHYyQka2Z7Y.
Quick Facts: Surveyors
2023 Median Pay $68,540 per year
$32.95 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Internship/residency
Number of Jobs, 2022 50,800
Job Outlook, 2022-32 5% (Faster than average)
Employment Change, 2022-32 2,300

What Surveyors Do

Surveyors make precise measurements to determine property boundaries.

Work Environment

Surveying involves both fieldwork and office work. When working outside, surveyors may stand for long periods and walk long distances, sometimes in bad weather. Most surveyors work full time.

How to Become a Surveyor

Surveyors typically need a bachelor’s degree to enter the occupation. They must be licensed before they can certify legal documents and provide surveying services to the public.

Pay

The median annual wage for surveyors was $68,540 in May 2023.

Job Outlook

Employment of surveyors is projected to grow 5 percent from 2022 to 2032, faster than the average for all occupations.

About 3,500 openings for surveyors are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for surveyors.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of surveyors with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about surveyors by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Surveyors Do About this section

Surveyors
Surveyors update boundary lines and prepare sites for construction so that legal disputes are prevented.

Surveyors make precise measurements to determine property boundaries. They provide data relevant to features of the Earth’s surface, such as shape and contour, for engineering, mapmaking, construction, and other purposes.

Duties

Surveyors typically do the following:

  • Search legal records, survey records, and land titles to obtain information about property boundaries in areas to be surveyed
  • Measure distances and angles between points on, above, and below the Earth’s surface
  • Travel to locations and use known reference points to determine the exact location of important features
  • Record the results of surveying and verify the accuracy of data
  • Prepare or supervise preparation of plots, maps, and reports
  • Present findings to clients
  • Establish official land and water boundaries for deeds, leases, and other legal documents and testify in court regarding survey work

Surveyors mark and document the location of legal property lines. For example, when a house or commercial building is bought or sold, surveyors may mark property boundaries to prevent or resolve disputes.

Much of the measuring equipment surveyors use incorporates technology. For example, when taking measurements in the field, surveyors use handheld Global Positioning System (GPS) units as well as robotic total stations, instruments that automate positioning of a telescope. They also use computers to interpret and verify the results of the information they gather.

In addition, surveyors use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to present spatial information as visualizations in maps, reports, and charts. For example, a surveyor might overlay aerial or satellite images with GIS data, such as tree density in a region, and use Computer Aided Design (CAD) software to create digital maps.

Surveyors may be part of a crew that includes surveying technicians. These crews also work with civil engineers, landscape architects, cartographers and photogrammetrists, and urban and regional planners to develop comprehensive design documents. The documents have a variety of purposes, such as to advise local governments on where to plan and build roads.

The following are examples of types of surveyors:

Boundary or land surveyors determine the legal property lines and help determine the exact locations of real estate and construction projects.

Geodetic surveyors use high-accuracy technology, including aerial and satellite observations, to measure large areas of the Earth’s surface.

Pipeline surveyors survey and record the location of existing and planned pipelines to ensure that placement complies with established requirements.

Work Environment About this section

Surveyors
Surveyors collect data outdoors.

Surveyors held about 50,800 jobs in 2022. The largest employers of surveyors were as follows:

Architectural, engineering, and related services 70%
Government 8
Construction 7
Self-employed workers 4
Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction 1

Surveying involves both fieldwork and office work. Fieldwork may require working outdoors in all types of weather, walking long distances, and standing for extended periods while taking measurements. Surveyors may climb hills with heavy packs of surveying instruments. When working near hazards such as traffic, surveyors generally wear brightly colored or reflective vests to make themselves more visible. When working in underground mines, surveyors are in enclosed spaces.

Traveling is often part of the job, and surveyors may commute long distances. Those who work on resource extraction projects may be in remote areas and spend long periods away from home.

Work Schedules

Most surveyors work full time. They may have longer workdays while doing fieldwork.

How to Become a Surveyor About this section

Surveyors
Along with a degree, surveyors typically need to work with a licensed surveyor.

Surveyors typically need a bachelor’s degree to enter the occupation. They must be licensed before they can certify legal documents and provide surveying services to the public.

Education

Surveyors typically need a bachelor’s degree in land surveying or a related field, such as engineering or natural resources. Some colleges and universities offer programs that prepare students to become licensed surveyors.

In some cases, employers may hire candidates who have an associate’s degree and additional training.

Training

Entry-level surveyors often work under the direction of a licensed surveyor for several years before they qualify to obtain a license. This training may be in the form of an internship or apprenticeship.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Some surveyors begin as surveying technicians and become licensed surveyors after gaining many years of work experience under the direction of a licensed surveyor. Specific requirements vary by state. Check with your state’s licensing agency for more information.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

All 50 states and the District of Columbia require surveyors to be licensed before they can provide their services to the public. These services include certifying legal documents that show property lines or determine proper markings, such as for construction projects.

Prospective licensed surveyors may need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited program in order to sit for the licensing exam. Candidates typically work for several years under the direction of a licensed surveyor to qualify for licensure.

Although the process of obtaining a license varies by state, a process established by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) specifies requirements for education, exams, and work experience.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Surveyors must provide clear instructions to team members, clients, and government officials. Both written and oral communication are important.

Detail oriented. Surveyors must be precise and accurate in their work, which includes making measurements and producing maps, reports, and legally binding documents.

Physical stamina. Surveyors do fieldwork outdoors, often in rugged terrain. They must be able to walk long distances, sometimes while carrying heavy equipment, and may stand for long periods.

Problem-solving skills. Surveyors must reconcile discrepancies between information in documents and current conditions on the land.

Time-management skills. Surveyors must be able to effectively plan their own and their team’s work schedules to meet critical deadlines.

Visualization skills. Surveyors must be able to envision how terrain will look when it is moved or altered.

Pay About this section

Surveyors

Median annual wages, May 2023

Architects, surveyors, and cartographers

$80,850

Surveyors

$68,540

Total, all occupations

$48,060

 

The median annual wage for surveyors was $68,540 in May 2023. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $41,430, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $109,660.

In May 2023, the median annual wages for surveyors in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Government $85,190
Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction 79,990
Construction 68,090
Architectural, engineering, and related services 64,990

Most surveyors work full time. They may have longer workdays while doing fieldwork.

Job Outlook About this section

Surveyors

Percent change in employment, projected 2022-32

Surveyors

5%

Architects, surveyors, and cartographers

4%

Total, all occupations

3%

 

Employment of surveyors is projected to grow 5 percent from 2022 to 2032, faster than the average for all occupations.

About 3,500 openings for surveyors are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

Surveyors will continue to be needed to certify boundary lines and review sites for construction. Employment demand also will be tied to projects such as road repair and mining activities, although the use of drones and other technologies may limit growth somewhat by increasing worker productivity.

Employment projections data for surveyors, 2022-32
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2022 Projected Employment, 2032 Change, 2022-32 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Surveyors

17-1022 50,800 53,100 5 2,300 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OEWS data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.org. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of surveyors.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help on Entry-Level Education 2023 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
Cartographers and photogrammetrists Cartographers and Photogrammetrists

Cartographers and photogrammetrists collect, analyze, and interpret geographic information to create and update maps and related products.

Bachelor's degree $76,210
Civil engineers Civil Engineers

Civil engineers plan, design, and supervise the construction and maintenance of building and infrastructure projects.

Bachelor's degree $95,890
Civil engineering technicians Civil Engineering Technologists and Technicians

Civil engineering technologists and technicians help civil engineers plan, design, and build infrastructure and development projects.

Associate's degree $60,700
Construction and building inspectors Construction and Building Inspectors

Construction and building inspectors ensure that construction meets building codes and ordinances, zoning regulations, and contract specifications.

High school diploma or equivalent $67,700
Drafters Drafters

Drafters use software to convert the designs of engineers and architects into technical drawings.

Associate's degree $62,530
Geographers Geographers

Geographers study the Earth and the distribution of its land, features, and inhabitants.

Bachelor's degree $90,880
Hydrologists Hydrologists

Hydrologists study how water moves across and through the Earth’s crust.

Bachelor's degree $88,770
Landscape architects Landscape Architects

Landscape architects design parks and other outdoor spaces.

Bachelor's degree $79,320
Surveying and mapping technicians Surveying and Mapping Technicians

Surveying and mapping technicians collect data and make maps of the Earth's surface.

High school diploma or equivalent $48,940
Urban and regional planners Urban and Regional Planners

Urban and regional planners develop comprehensive plans and programs for use of land and physical facilities in cities, counties, metropolitan areas, and other jurisdictions.

Master's degree $81,800
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Surveyors,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/surveyors.htm (visited June 10, 2024).

Last Modified Date: Wednesday, April 17, 2024

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2023 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2023, the median annual wage for all workers was $48,060.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2022

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2022, which is the base year of the 2022-32 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2022-32

The projected percent change in employment from 2022 to 2032. The average growth rate for all occupations is 3 percent.

Employment Change, 2022-32

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2022-32

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2022 to 2032.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

2023 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2023, the median annual wage for all workers was $48,060.