Job Overview

Surveyors establish official land, airspace, and water boundaries. They write descriptions of land for deeds, leases, and other legal documents; define airspace for airports; and take measurements of construction and mineral sites. Other surveyors provide data about the shape, contour, location, elevation, or dimension of land or land features.

Surveyors measure distances, directions, and angles between points on, above, and below the Earth’s surface. In the field, they select known survey reference points and determine the precise location of important features in the survey area using specialized equipment. Surveyors also research legal records, look for evidence of previous boundaries, and analyze data to determine the location of boundary lines. They are sometimes called to provide expert testimony in court regarding their work or the work of other surveyors. Surveyors also record their results, verify the accuracy of data, and prepare plots, maps, and reports.

Some Surveyors perform specialized functions that support the work of other Surveyors, Cartographers, and Photogrammetrists. For example, geodetic surveyors use high-accuracy techniques, including satellite observations, to measure large areas of the earth’s surface. Geophysical prospecting Surveyors mark sites for subsurface exploration, usually to look for petroleum. Marine or Hydrographic Surveyors survey harbors, rivers, and other bodies of water to determine shorelines, the topography of the bottom, water depth, and other features.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook