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Working in Renovation: Land Surveyor

Last modified: 2022-08-15 | Approximate reading time 4 mins

A promising career path for those with a love of the outdoors, excellent attention to detail and a comfortability with computers; you may be interested in working as a land surveyor. The job is vital for maintaining land development, as this profession performs jobs such as topographical mapping, boundary surveys as well as construction staking. Now, this may all sound exciting but what does it take to follow this career path?

Land surveyors work with many different professions including engineers, architects, as well as builders to produce a description of the Earth’s surface. In this article, we’ll offer a detailed description of what it takes to be a land surveyor as well as some benefits and specifics of this profession.

Working in renovation: land surveyor

What is a land surveyor?

source: unsplash

As briefly mentioned in our introduction, the work of a land surveyor is crucial for the development of land. Over the course of history, land surveyors have played a major role in vital discoveries and uncovering information about our earth.

Today, a land surveyor works to conduct field research for building and architectural projects to determine the exact location of land features and formations. Working as a professional in this arena will allow you to choose from a variety of specializations that move well beyond fieldwork. A land surveyor uses math as well as data that is gathered from sources including global positioning systems, observational and specialized tools in order to measure the distance and boundaries of the land. Specific jobs that a land surveyor takes on could include the following:

  • Observe and record elevations and depressions in an area of land;
  • Calculate coordinates of geographical features;
  • Verify the accuracy of the collected data;
  • Identify land boundaries;
  • Prepare maps, sketches and reports;
  • Understand the Global Positioning System (GPS) and Geographic Information System;
  • Refine skills to keep up with technological advancement.

The educational path to becoming a land surveyor

Becoming a land surveyor won’t happen overnight. In fact, a university degree is necessary for this profession. However, this career path starts before university, and preparation will start in high school. High school courses such as trigonometry, algebra, geometry, drafting classes or other advanced math courses can help to set you in the right direction. In specific instances, a high school diploma with advanced math credits could gain the right candidate an apprenticeship before pursuing post-secondary education.

As mentioned, many in this profession do have a university degree. At this level, you’d be looking for a major in one of the following fields: cartography, surveying, geography, computer science, and engineering. Overlapping in two or three of these areas would be considered a serious asset. Certain universities will offer a surveyor-specific degree.  

This will give you the practical skills to do field will while also offering some theory for a deeper understanding of the subject. Some possible courses could include land information systems, satellite surveying and remote sensing, real estate law, statistical methods and survey research.

Land surveyor's license

Following the completion of a degree, it’ll be necessary for you to obtain a surveyor's license. The requirements for this license will vary from place to place, city to city. In most scenarios, a certain number of hours of experience will be required, and this will include training in land surveying as well as professional experience on the field.  Without the license, it’s still possible to work as a land surveyor, though usually in the position of technician or technologist while under the supervision of someone with a license.

Although holding a university degree and practicing the proper math skills is important, fieldwork is essential to getting a surveyor's license. This is because you’ll be able to practically apply the theoretical knowledge you’ve learned in university, and this can only be done while out on the land gathering information by way of physical evidence and on the ground research. 

Who hires land surveyors?


source: unsplash

When it comes to the career path of the land surveyor, the possibilities for employment are abundant. There are various organizations that will utilize the skills of a land surveyor, and they include:

  • Construction and mining companies;
  • Survey companies;
  • Real Estate and development agencies;
  • Geomatics firms;
  • The government including federal and provincial.

Land surveyor salary

As a land surveyor, your salary can vary widely in relation to the license you hold as well as how much experience you have and who you’re employed by.

Depending on the province, the hourly wage of a land surveyor can range anywhere between $27 to $45 an hour, whereas a salaried position could be in the range of $59,000 and $100,000 annually. Obviously, your salary will greatly depend on the amount of experience you have in the field itself.

Being a land surveyor in Quebec

As is the case for a lot of renovation trades in Quebec, it's required to obtain a valid RBQ license if you are operating in this province. To work as a land surveyor, you need a 2.7 license (site work). For the consumer, working with a land surveyor who has a valid license is not without importance. In fact, this allows them to obtain a $20 000 compensation if they have an issue with a licensed contractor who is specialized in land surveying. 


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