How to Become a Land Surveyor

If you are considering a career as a land surveyor, then it is important to know what the educational requirements are for this kind of work. If you are still in high school but are looking to this as your future profession, it can also help to know which subjects to focus on to help prepare you for further education and a job in surveying.

Land Surveyor Bearings & Azimuths
Land Surveyor Bearings & Azimuths

Here we look at everything you need to know to plan for a career as a licensed land surveyor:

What Does the Work Involve?

The job of a land surveyor is to use data and measurements from things like GPS to accurately measure and map out areas of land, such as boundaries and topography. This can be done for a number of purposes for both the public and private sectors, and many land surveyors work for civil survey services companies.

It requires strong technical skills, as you will be working with GPS and GIS systems as well as other data sources, and a good background in math.

Good High School Subjects to Help You Prepare

If you are still in high school but know that this is the career you want to go into, then putting your efforts into math topics like geometry and trigonometry is a good place to start. You can also consider IT and geography, and to some extent physics to be useful.

Typically, you would be required to achieve a bachelor’s degree after graduation from high school to enter this career path. However, there are some companies that do take on promising high school graduates as apprentices, so this may be something to look into as you get closer to graduation, to give you an alternative option to doing a college degree.


In most cases, you will need a bachelor’s degree, but this does not necessarily have to be a degree specifically for surveyors. A bachelor’s including other relevant things like computer science or cartography can also get you a route into a job as a land surveyor. This can be useful to know if you already have a degree and are looking to change careers to move into becoming a land surveyor.


To be able to provide a full service as a professional land surveyor, you need to become licensed. In most states, the requirement to gain your Surveyor’s License is to pass two exams from the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying. The first can be taken as soon as you graduate or when you first enter the profession, but the second has the prerequisite that you must have completed four years working as a surveyor before you take it.

This is the full process to become a fully licensed land surveyor, and though it may seem quite lengthy due to the four-year licensing requirement, as this is standard in the industry it should not prevent you from finding work in more junior surveying roles prior to obtaining your license.