Land surveyors measuring with tacheometer speaking through transmitter

How to Build Your Career As a Surveyor With Field Knowledge and Computer Skill

In construction, surveyors are often considered the backbone of any project. Yet studies show that in recent years, universities are producing fewer qualified graduates in this vital profession. A UK study showed that the number of students had trended downward by up to 18.9% since 2008.

Whatever the underlying reasons, one thing is clear – as the construction industry continues to thrive, the demand for skilled surveyors will be increasingly challenging to meet. If you are considering surveying as a career, in the middle of your studies, or working toward your professional license, the work may seem tough, with limited prospects. But seen from a different perspective, this is a time of opportunity. Here are some steps you can take to gain an edge in a rapidly evolving field.

Collaborate with teams

In many professions nowadays, practical knowledge of traditional methods is still desirable, along with proficiency in new technology. Consequently, employers won’t just be satisfied with a four-year degree – this indicates you have studied new software, but lack field skills. Often, having some years of experience or projects under your belt will be at least as important as your degree when it comes to finding work.

This creates the obvious predicament of how to land work in the first place when you’re expected to have some field experience already. The early solution is to collaborate with existing teams. Many large construction projects still employ multiple survey teams in order to cover wide areas with efficiency. Since it’s possible to reduce manpower with robotics and the right software platform, this indicates an opportunity for your skills to be used. You can highlight your software skill in making work more efficient while gaining field knowledge from seasoned workers who lack your computer expertise.

Become a local expert

When you take on projects, if you are able to concentrate your work more on a specific region, you’ll develop a practical familiarity with the area and become more of a “go-to” person – the candidate that stands out when employers are looking to build in that area. Naturally, this doesn’t mean you should simply turn down work elsewhere. Just choose your projects with an eye on the future opportunities that a specific area holds for development.

Take charge of new technology

half shot of a surveyor doing research in a laptop

As the new kid on the block, so to speak, you’ll frequently work with industry veterans and professionals with years of experience who are resistant to new technology. This isn’t unique to the surveying profession; in general, older generations can be stubborn in holding on to tried-and-tested ways of getting things done.

Knowing how to use robotic surveying equipment, for instance, is an advantage, but a willingness to teach these skills can make you valuable. Whether its troubleshooting AutoCAD or maintaining Trimble device parts, or calling for repair if necessary, showing that you’re helpful and sharing your knowledge will get you on the old-timers’ good side, and set you apart from the rest of the younger generation too.

Continued learning

The challenges faced by surveyors today reflect the evolving nature of the whole construction industry. Businesses everywhere are looking for ways to be efficient, make use of modern technology, and retain the expertise of workers skilled in traditional practices.

It’s important to have a mindset of continued learning – your growth doesn’t stop when you obtain your degree or professional license. Studying building information modeling (BIM), for example, can open doors to top clients looking for cutting edge multidisciplinary construction projects.

Be adaptable and stay atop the industry’s trends, while looking for ways to productively work with the established model; you’ll surely find success in your surveying career.