Share

This week marks the celebration of surveyors across the nation! National Surveyors Week, held annually during the third week of March, is a time to honor the skilled professionals who measure and map our world.

Land surveyors, despite working often behind the scenes, play a vital role in various projects. Before construction begins, they collect data, map boundaries, and ensure safety and environmental protection. They also maintain existing projects, analyzing structural integrity and environmental impact.

National Surveyors Week not only recognizes their contributions to engineering, land development, and construction but also aims to raise awareness about the surveying profession and its societal importance.

A Brief History of Land Surveying

Land surveying, tracing back to ancient civilizations like the Egyptians and Mesopotamians, has been crucial since recorded history. Early tools included ropes, plumb bobs, and length-measuring instruments based on human body measurements.

As societies progressed, surveying tools and techniques became more accurate and efficient, evolving into a necessary practice worldwide. In the United States, figures like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln were notable surveyors. Despite its historical prominence, land surveying didn’t become an official profession until the early 19th century, spurred by the demands of the Industrial Revolution.

The Surveying Industry Today

With a workforce exceeding 46,000, the land surveying field in the United States is thriving, blending ancient principles with contemporary innovations. Despite operating on foundational principles established millennia ago, the industry has embraced a transformative technological landscape. Traditional tools such as theodolites and measuring tapes persist alongside cutting-edge advancements like GPS and laser scanners, ushering in unprecedented capabilities for modern surveyors. At Chastain-Skillman, our adept team leverages the latest technology to ensure meticulous and expedient land surveys, perpetuating a tradition of excellence in our field.

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.

Keep reading to learn more about the surveyors we interviewed and hear their thoughts on their profession!


National Surveyors Week’s main objective is to educate the public on land surveying as a profession. What is something the public should know about being a land surveyor, that they may not already know?

Logan: Something people should understand about surveying is the importance of our profession to the public. The tasks surveyors are responsible for include but are not limited to, locating deed lines, locating easement lines, laying out construction projects, recording as-builts for construction that has been completed, and depicting this information in a way that expresses areas of concern to our clients. The research we conduct and the methods we use to ensure accuracy as a regulated profession help to protect the public.   

Jeff: Although everyone sees the field crew out in the field working on their projects, there can also be just as much office work that goes into a survey project. We often have to complete hours of research that includes visiting websites, calling other surveyors, and going through old project files to help prepare calculations for the fieldwork. After the fieldwork is complete, we must prepare maps and reports that provide a record of the results of the fieldwork, but also are clear and can be understood by our client.

Cody:

  • Good surveying ain’t cheap and cheap surveying ain’t good!
  • While you do need a degree to be licensed, to do what I do, all you need is a good work ethic and eagerness to learn. Many people within our profession are not licensed but still play crucial roles in making everything come together.
  • Just because the realtor said “the fence is your property,” doesn’t make it so.

When did you know you wanted to make land surveying your profession and how did you come to that decision?

Logan: I fell in love with surveying on my first day on the job. I was shooting an as-built on a pond in the fall. Something about looking over a vast piece of land, my rubber boots and socks taken off to allow my purpling feet to dry, and discussing the job with a coworker at the tailgate made me feel at peace with my work. I knew I wanted to make surveying my profession when I graduated with my bachelor’s in business administration, tried a project management job in another field, and realized how much I truly missed drafting, going in the field, and breaking down surveying projects. I realized how much I truly loved this profession and all the quirks it has to offer. After that, I came back to surveying and started working towards licensure.

Jeff: My dad owned his own survey company so I was introduced at an early age, but I would say I knew I wanted to be a surveyor around thirteen when I staked out my first subdivision and was able to see the progression from a raw piece of land to a single-family subdivision.

Cody: I started surveying in the summer of 2016 and by December of that year, I knew I didn’t want to do anything else. The change in job sites / the environment and wildlife always keep it interesting. Once I realized I could make a good living doing this, I was hooked.


What are some common misconceptions people have about land surveying, and how do you address them?

Logan: A misconception the public may have about surveyors is that we simply walk into the field with a GPS and the computer/GPS tells us where everything is. One of the most important components of being a surveyor is knowing what tools to use to make measurements and how to interpret the data we receive from those tools. From a simple ground shot to recovering a hospital building, we must know what methods translate the design, to the real world, and onto a map with accuracy.

Jeff: Other than people thinking we are taking pictures all the time; I would say people just think of it as standing behind an instrument or holding a pole. There are a lot of aspects and different types of career paths for the surveying profession. You can fly a drone, work on construction projects, use a computer to map projects or extract field data, or be involved in project management and business development to name some of the options.

Cody:

  • While GPS has helped make our jobs easier, for some jobs it just is not accurate enough.
  • “No we don’t know why we’re here” is a pretty common phrase that is used, usually followed by “my boss just told me to survey this…. here is his number.” Sometimes, it is the truth.
  • If we need to access a property for a job, we have laws that prevent us from catching a trespassing charge (but we’ll try to be nice about it).

What do you enjoy most about being a land surveyor, and what keeps you motivated in your profession?

Logan: The component of surveying that I love and that keeps my passion towards it alive is the feeling of unraveling a mystery. When we start a project, we must research a property and understand how it was previously recorded. Then, we get to go treasure hunting and recover evidence for the project. Lastly, we analyze the information and find the best way to present our findings in a useful way for our clients. From researching 100+-year-old maps, digging up monumentation deep in the woods, drawing the features we have located, and making a map – it’s hard to feel like we aren’t pirates. But what we treasure is protecting the public by creating accurate depictions of the lands we survey, as requested by the client.

Jeff: Knowing that I am involved in projects that are helping my community. It is nice to work on a project and then drive by that project and know that I helped on that project.

Cody: We can survey the same plot of land multiple times, from the original boundary and top of the layout and construction, then finally the as-builts. The fact that I get to see the product from beginning to end, is what keeps me interested and proud that I get to be a part of it.


Share Article
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/Inspection 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.


Share

Like what you see?