This series includes positions that involve professional work in land surveying, which is concerned with establishing, investigating, and reestablishing land and property boundaries, and with preparing plats and legal descriptions for tracts of land. The work requires application of professional knowledge of the concepts, principles and techniques of surveying, including underlying mathematics and physical science, in combination with a practical knowledge of land ownership laws.
The federal government employs 34 land surveyors. The Department of Agriculture employs 16 and the Commerce Department employs 12. According to the Occupational Outlook handbook there are 44,300 surveyors employed nationwide in the public and private sectors and the median pay in 2015 was $58,000 per year.
The median annual wages ranged from $64,980 for government workers, $61,730 for those who work in construction and $56,610 for architectural, engineering, and related services workers.
Federal Government Requirements:
- You must be a U.S. citizen to apply
- The yearly salary range for a GS-11-13 is $51,811.00 to $96,004.00 per year
The following information is excerpted from the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) published by the Department of Labor:
- 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
- Research land records, survey records, and land titles
- Look for evidence of previous boundaries to determine where boundary lines are located
- Record the results of surveying and verify the accuracy of data
- Prepare plots, maps, and reports
- Present findings to clients and government agencies
- Establish official land and water boundaries for deeds, leases, and other legal documents and testify in court regarding survey work
Surveyors provide documentation of legal property lines and help determine the exact locations of real estate and construction projects. For example, when a house or commercial building is bought or sold, it may need to be surveyed to prevent boundary disputes. During construction, surveyors determine the precise location of roads or buildings and proper depths for building foundations. The survey also shows changes to the property line and indicates potential restrictions on the property, such as what can be built on it and how large the structure can be.
When taking measurements in the field, surveyors make use of the Global Positioning System (GPS), a system of satellites that locates reference points with a high degree of precision. Surveyors use handheld GPS units and robotic total stations to collect relevant information about the terrain they are surveying. (Robotic total stations use laser systems and GPS to automatically calculate distances between boundaries and geological features of the survey area.) Data is then loaded into a computer, where surveyors interpret and verify the results.
Surveyors also use Geographic Information Systems (GIS)—technology that allows surveyors to present spatial information visually as maps, reports, and charts. For example, a surveyor can overlay aerial or satellite images with GIS data, such as tree density in a given region, and create digital maps. They then use the results to advise governments and businesses on where to plan homes, roads, and landfills.
Surveyors typically need a bachelor’s degree because they work with sophisticated technology and math. Some colleges and universities offer bachelor’s degree programs specifically designed to prepare students to become licensed surveyors. A bachelor’s degree in a closely related field, such as civil engineering or forestry, is sometimes acceptable as well.
Many states require individuals who want to become licensed surveyors to have a bachelor’s degree from a school accredited by ABET and approximately 4 years of work experience under a licensed surveyor. In other states, an associate’s degree in surveying, coupled with more years of work experience under a licensed surveyor, may be sufficient. Most states also have continuing education requirements.
GS-1373 Land Surveyor (Excepted from USA Jobs Announcement)
- Bachelor’s Degree or higher in Land Surveying or a Bachelor’s degree or higher in Civil Engineering with a surveying option/emphasis. The Civil Engineering major must have included at least 6 semester hours of surveying, 3 semester hours of land law, and 21 additional semester hours in any combination of the following: surveying, photogrammetry, geodetic surveying, geodesy, route surveying, remote sensing, cartography, survey astronomy, land information systems, computer-aided mapping, aerial photo interpretation, and survey analysis and adjustments
A combination of education and experience — courses equivalent to a major in land surveying or civil engineering as described above, plus appropriate experience or additional education
- You are a current registered Land Surveyor in a State, territory, or the District of Columbia obtained by written examination. Such registration must have been obtained under conditions outlined in the National Council of Engineering Examiners (NCEE) Unified Model Law for Registration of Surveyors. Applicants wishing to be considered under this provision must show evidence of registration based on successful completion of the written examinations. Registration granted prior to adoption of a registration law with qualification requirements equivalent to the NCEE Model Law by the State, territory, or District of Columbia are not acceptable under this option. To be considered equivalent to the NCEE Model Law, registration laws must include the four options listed within the NCEE Unified Model Law in the section specifying “General Requirements for Registration” as a Professional Land Surveyor
MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS FOR THE GS-11: Your resume must demonstrate at least one year of specialized experience at or equivalent to the GS-09 grade level in the Federal Service performing the following duties: establishing, investigating, and reestablishing land and property boundaries, and preparing plats and legal descriptions for tracts of land
MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS FOR THE GS-12: Your resume must demonstrate at least one year of specialized experience at or equivalent to the GS-11 level in the Federal Sector performing the following duties: 1) Land Surveying and Mapping; 2) Interpreting land surveying and mapping regulations and requirements; and 3) Ensuring contract compliance and quality assurance for projects.
MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS FOR THE GS-13: Your resume must demonstrate at least one year of specialized experience at or equivalent to the GS-12 level in the Federal Sector performing the following duties: 1) advising, as a subject matter expert, on technical matters related to land surveying and mapping where boundary-related issues are of major concern; 2) serving as a team member or team leader on projects requiring in-house land surveying and/or mapping activities or expertise; 3) providing expert and/or technical support to Integrated Product Teams (IPT) and Architect-Engineer (A-E) firms; 4) providing input to and/or cost estimates on survey and mapping projects; 5) acting as a Command Representative to customer activities, major claimants, local agencies, headquarters, etc.; 6) preparing and presenting technical briefings, point papers, official correspondence, metrics, etc., to varied and diverse audiences.
Job Outlook: (Excerpted from the Occupational Outlook Handbook)
Employment of surveyors is projected to decline 2 percent from 2014 to 2024. Advancements in surveying technology, such as robotic total stations, let surveyors complete more work in less time, reducing the demand for surveyors. However, some surveyors will continue to be needed to certify boundary lines, work on resource extraction projects, and review sites for construction.
Job opportunities for those with a bachelor’s degree in surveying or a related field are expected to be good. Increased use of sophisticated technology and math has resulted in higher education requirements. As a result, those with the right combination of skills and a bachelor’s degree from a school accredited by ABET will have the best job opportunities.
Demand for traditional surveying services is closely tied to construction activity, therefore job opportunities will vary by geographic region, and often depend on local economic conditions. When real estate sales and construction activity slow down, surveyors may face greater competition for jobs. However, because surveyors can work on many different types of projects, they may have steadier work than others in the industry when construction slows.
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