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This week we’re celebrating surveyors nationwide! Recognized annually on the third week of March, National Surveyors Week is a time to recognize and honor the skilled professionals that measure and map our world.

Despite the importance of their work, the efforts of land surveyors often take place behind the scenes, going unnoticed by many. Think about all the new developments and projects you see being built in and around your community. Before ground is broken and construction starts on a project, land surveyors are often on-site collecting data, conducting calculations, and mapping boundaries to ensure workers are safe, property lines are respected, and the environment is protected.

Land surveyors also play an integral role in the maintenance and upkeep of existing projects, periodically analyzing things like the structural integrity or environmental impact of infrastructure. Using the information gathered, they can create maps, plans, and reports that can be used by engineers, architects, or construction crews when making changes or improvements to projects.

In addition to highlighting the crucial role that land surveyors play in engineering, land development, construction, and infrastructure projects, National Surveyors Week is also about promoting awareness of the surveying profession and its contributions to society.

Survey instrument, theodolite outside of building construction in Tennessee.
CS survey crew using theodolite on a project in Tennessee.

A Brief History of Land Surveying

Land Surveying is a practice that dates back all the way to the beginning of recorded history. Some of the earliest civilizations, like ancient Egyptians and Mesopotamians, used land surveying to measure and divide the land for taxation.

The earliest known surveying tools included ropes, plumb bobs, leveling tools, and length-measuring instruments. Standards of length in ancient civilizations were based on human body measurements, so early measuring tools featured units such as the feet, palms, fingers, and ‘cubits’ (the distance from elbow to fingertip).

As civilization progressed, the tools and techniques of surveys evolved to be more accurate and efficient. It was not long before land surveying was a highly-regarded and necessary practice in most societies.

Land surveying also played a uniquely important role in the history of the United States. Being one of the oldest professions in the country, many of the U.S.’s earliest leaders were also surveyors— including George Washington, Thomas, Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln (three presidents featured on the Mount Rushmore Memorial). But even with the prominence of land surveying in early U.S. history, it didn’t officially become a professional occupation until the early 19th century, due to demand created by the industrial revolution.

The presidents at Mount Rushmore, three of which were known to be surveyors
George Washington (leftmost), Thomas Jefferson (second from left), and Abraham Lincoln (rightmost).

The Surveying Industry Today

There are now over 46,000 land surveyors employed in the United States1, advancing the industry to new heights whilst still preserving the legacy of early surveyors.

Land surveying continues to operate under the same basic principles as it did thousands of years ago but in a vastly different technological environment. While traditional equipment like theodolites, leveling instruments, total stations, and measuring tapes have long remained staples in surveying, the industry has branched out to more advanced, computer-based technologies in recent years.

Today’s surveyors can conduct surveys in ways that have never been possible with modern technology such as GPS, GIS software, laser scanners, and unmanned aerial systems (UAS). At Chastain-Skillman, our team of experienced professionals is equipped with the latest technology available, ensuring precise and efficient land surveys.

CS survey crew using a Trimble R8s GNSS Receiver with ArcGIS Online to complete sanitary manhole inspections in Florida.

Looking Towards the Future

As many surveyors at Chastain-Skillman know, the surveying industry is ever-changing. Land surveyors are constantly able to go to new places and explore new opportunities.

With the skills they’ve learned throughout their careers, our team is paving the way for a new generation of surveyors. Through internship programs and local events, Chastain-Skillman hopes to inspire young innovators to consider a hands-on career in land surveying where they can experience a new adventure every day.

CS hosts surveying activity for Spring Break at Bonnet Springs Park.

Interested in learning more about a career in land surveying? Our team is here to help!

Let’s start the conversation.


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About Chastain-Skillman

CS is a leading engineering firm headquartered in Lakeland, FL, with satellite offices in Orlando, FL, and Nashville, TN. Established in Lakeland in 1950, our company provides Civil Engineering, Water/Wastewater Engineering, Land Surveying, Geology/Hydrogeology, and Construction Management/Inspections services.

At CS, we treasure our role in creating thriving communities, always respecting the impact our work has on their foundations and their futures. For more information, visit chastainskillman.com.

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