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Careers in Surveying Engineering

Is Surveying for You?

Surveying appeals to students with a diverse background of interests. However, some common interests exist with most people who work in the field. These interests include: 1) mathematics (surveying is a field of applied mathematics), 2) geography and map production, 3) spending time outdoors, 4) computers and working with computers, 5) land-use planning, 6) confronting varied and different problems everyday, and 7) interfacing with other professionals including civil engineers, lawyers, doctors, etc.

There are many areas of specialization in the discipline of surveying. What does a...

Boundary surveyor do?
Construction surveyor do?
Geodesist do?
Hydrographic surveyor do?
Photogrammetrist/Image analyst do?
Geographic information systems specialist do?

Who Hires Surveying Graduates?

Surveyors apply their knowledge and skills for such purposes as field data collection, statistical analysis, mapping, boundary location, and wetland delineation. They identify and locate hazardous waste sites and tectonic plate movements, map areas such as the polar ice cap and deforestation in the Amazon River basin, and collect and present data used by land planners and environmental agencies. Data is obtained from digital ground-based surveying equipment, aerial photos, and satellites.

Planners and legislators rely on the data generated and analyzed by surveyors for the information they need to make decisions. One well-known use of the technology employed by surveyors is the support mapping for the 911 emergency phone system. More familiar products provided by surveyors include road and city maps, building layouts, maps of the moon and planets, and diagrams showing population growth.

Federal, state, and local government agencies employ almost one-third of all surveyors. Among the federal agencies employing these workers are the Bureau of Land Management, Coast and Geodetic Survey, Army Corps of Engineers, Forest Services, and US Geological Survey. On the state and local levels, surveyors find employment with private land surveyors, highway departments, and urban planning and development agencies. There are also opportunities with construction companies, engineering and architectural firms, crude petroleum or natural gas companies, railroads, and public utilities. 

Licensing In Pennsylvania

It is desirable, and for some required, to have a Professional Land Surveyors (PLS) license. Currently in Pennsylvania, students from both of our programs can become licensed. However, only our baccalaureate students can be licensed in all fifty states where at least 20 require baccalaureate degrees. In the future, it is expected that the trend of requiring a baccalaureate degree for licensure will continue throughout the United States. This requirement already exists in Europe, Canada, and Mexico.

Licensing is obtained by passing the fundamentals in land surveying exam also known as the Surveyor-In-Training (SIT) examination. This exam can be taken after graduation or in your senior year. After passing the exam, the student must obtain practical experience by working with a licensed land surveyor for four years before they can sit for their Professional Land Surveyors examination. Both exams are regulated by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). The State Registration Board of Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists regulates licensure in Pennsylvania. This process is similar to that used for licensing engineers. Other states may have different requirements for licensure; however, a student with a baccalaureate degree in surveying is qualified for licensure in any state. View information about the Fundamentals in Land Surveying Exam.

Surveying Organizations

American Congress on Surveying and Mapping

American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing

International Federation of Surveyors

International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing

Pennsylvania Society of Land Surveyors

Urban and Regional Information Systems Association

Government Agencies

Bureau of Land Management

National Geodetic Survey

United States Geological Survey

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

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