The Role of The Land Surveyor
A land (or geomatics or topographic) surveyor accurately measures and records the natural and built environment. They then present this information in a format required by clients such as architects, architectural technicians, civil and structural engineers, property developers and planners.
Providing a land survey or measured building survey is an essential preliminary stage to virtually all planning, property development, construction, major engineering or other project relating to a piece of land, building or structure.
Measured building surveying utilises many of the same skills as land surveying and much of the same equipment and the same general career advice applies. Often land surveyors only undertake land surveys and a great deal more training is required to become a measured building surveyor almost always this is gained ‘on the job’. Many academic courses do not cover this aspect in any detail.
Land surveyors need to learn the theory behind the traditional survey methods of triangulation and traversing, but use very hi-tech equipment to measure, record and present the survey data. Land surveyors need this theoretical background knowledge, but predominantly land surveying is a practical and vocational profession.
Sadly there has been a decline in the number of courses on offer to would be undergraduate land surveyors. Indeed some courses seem very heavily weighted in theory for such a practical subject.
The lack of a degree or post-graduate qualification does not mean that you cannot become a land surveyor as many work their way up from an assistant role to undertaking their own surveys.
The majority of land and measured building surveying training is organised in-house, with employers providing specific training in the use of different pieces of equipment and specialist computer software. Land surveyors need to keep up to date with the latest technology as it is changing all the time.
In recent years land surveyors have been in short supply and increasingly this shortfall in numbers, has been filled by land surveyors trained in Eastern Europe, many of whom have excellent academic qualifications.
What Makes A Good Land Surveyor?
Land surveyors need to be practical, well organised and pragmatic. They need to be comfortable with working with numbers and with computers. Good levels of written and oral communication are essential. They must enjoy working outdoors in all types of pleasant (and unpleasant) conditions, which may sometimes involve staying and working away from home. A full driving licence is essential.
The weather can also make what can be a physically demanding job even more difficult, however the opportunities to see locations and situations that you would not normally get to see are a great reward. Land surveying is not a 9-5 job mainly because it is necessary to travel to site and some surveys may require working outside usual site hours (e.g. to accommodate a railway possession or a businesses operating hours.)
Most surveyors work in teams and must be confident to talk to clients and members of the public. If things go wrong a surveyor may need to call on their initiative and sense of humour!
Further Information on Careers In Land Surveying and Courses can be found at ;
Both offer 3 year full time surveying and mapping science courses as well as other related courses.