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New Surveyors in your state  

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aeberha
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Hey everybody! I've been working for a surveyor in South Carolina for almost four years and am currently in college pursuing a forestry degree with an emphasis in land surveying. I've been reading a good bit about how there is going to be a shortage of surveyors in the upcoming years as the older generation of surveyors begins to retire. I'd love to know anything about working with these new young surveyors (good or bad) as well as stats on how many new surveyors are taking the test in whatever state you are in. I am on track to take over a surveying business in the next six to seven years, but I'm interested in seeing why there are so few new surveyors coming up. Thanks!

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Just A. Surveyor
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I do not believe there is a shortage and do not believe there will ever be. We definitely need a shortage to reset the cost\benefit ratio of what we do. A shortage is needed to thin the herd and raise our rates but as it is there is far more surveyors than the market needs.

You can guarantee that every state board will lower the bar to allow more people to become licensed and thereby flood the market with more licensees and keep prices depressed. 

Party chiefs and instrument operators though are in high demand.

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FrozenNorth
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I've been surveying for about 20 years; licensed for 15.  Like others have said--it depends on what you mean by shortage.  And it depends on what you think a shortage implies.  If you think a surveyor shortage will raise wages, you may be sadly disappointed if other stronger factors are at work.  For instance, if you live in an area of low land values, low subdivision requirements, low labor union participation, and few public works projects, then I doubt a surveyor "shortage" will have much of a wage benefit whatsoever.

On the other hand, if you are tapping into a market with all the opposite characteristics--high land values, highly regulated land development, high union participation, and lots of public works projects--then wages are already high there and likely to respond well to shortages.

I live in a state with (historically) high union participation and lots of public works projects.  Wages are high here and likely to increase.  Additionally, our state includes construction surveyors in their prevailing wage rates.  And on the design/basemapping side, surveyors have price protection under Brooks Act procurement rules.  On the construction side, surveyors have wage protection under the Davis-Bacon (and Little Davis-Bacon) Act.

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SPMPLS
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This article seems appropriate considering the OP and responses.

A Millennial’s View of Land Surveying

We need to listen to the folks who will take the keys from us.

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Just A. Surveyor
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That article does not make one word of mention about the gigantic gorilla in the room. MONEY MONEY MONEY.

So long as a young person can make far more money doing a much easier job this profession will not attract many new folks.

In my town right now there is an Indeed ad from one of the local low price leaders. He is looking for a "surveyor" and this mythical person must have all the requisite skills of a experienced party chief with at least 1 year of experience. 

His salary offering is a whopping $9 hour up to $20 hour. Both of those are insulting wages for his ad listing. And as I know him it is a dead end job.

I can guarantee nobody will do that job for $9 hr and there is no chance he will pony up $20 hr as he just does not charge enough.

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Field Dog
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Posted by: aeberha

I'd love to know anything about working with these new young surveyors (good or bad) ... .

One of our young field surveyors is very tech-savvy, which is a blessing. He created a code list for our data collectors.

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A Harris
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There is always a shortage in surveyors, has been since the late 1960s and heard stories of the same before then.

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paden cash
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I have 50 years of experience in the field with 36 of those years as a licensed professional.  Your question "why there are so few surveyors coming up" is difficult to answer.  There are probably a lot of reasons, but I can only speak from my own point of view.

The biggest reason in today's professional climate is probably the money.  A young person pursuing a career in land surveying nowadays will probably be required to have a BS degree or equivalent.  Then there is (it varies by state) a period of training time required before an examination for licensure.  All totaled, you're looking at 8 to 10 years from start to finish before obtaining licensure.  And while the money varies with the locale, land surveyors don't generally keep up with the salary curve compared to other degreed professionals in my humble opinion.  A young person with a decent salary as a primary target could make better choices.  And I think a lot of people perpetuate the stigma that someone working outdoors in at times a strenuous environment isn't a desirable position. 

That leaves us with those that are in the profession because we love it.   I endured years of working for pay that fell short of a lot of my peers.  But surveying captured me early and spoiled me to positions with less fresh air and without constantly changing scenery.

It's not for everyone.  A good living can be had as a surveyor, but there are no guarantees.  Whether you prefer the office end of things or seeing the world through a windshield, it is work.  And there are a lot of people that want a career with not so much of that... 

Coming home at night sunburned and tick-bit with clothes tattered from barb wire and saw briars doesn't necessarily feel good.  But if it makes you satisfied and proud, you might have what it takes.  I believe that's why there are fewer of us than other professions.

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Norman Oklahoma
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The critical shortage, I think, is of competent staff. There may be too many many PLSs.  

Let us remember that for several years starting in 2008 there was very little entry level hiring done, and even the least experienced team members were jettisoned. Those people who weren't hired, and those who were sent away, would have been the ones who aren't taking the PLS test right now, or at least aren't filling the skilled underling positions.    

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Surveyor1985
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I agree with Paden Cash. There are not many surveyors getting licensed because most people who have a college degree are not going to spend the time getting paid very little to get their experience. Also, surveying is tough work and most people with college degrees are not willing to do physical work outside. They went to college to escape this work. Engineers used to become dual licensed but I find that they are not doing this anymore for the most part. In addition, technology (GPS, robotics) are making the survey "crew" consist of one person so you do not have green horns learning the ropes. FYI i am taking my PS and SC state exam this summer.

 

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aeberha
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What part of SC are you in? 

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Surveyor1985
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Charleston

 

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Field Dog
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Posted by: Surveyor1985

... most people with college degrees are not willing to do physical work outside.

 

I do not agree with this statement.

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Field Dog
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Posted by: Surveyor1985

In addition, technology (GPS, robotics) are making the survey "crew" consist of one person so you do not have green horns learning the ropes.

 

The number of personnel on a crew is no excuse not to train and mentor them. There should be a clearly defined path of advancement for everyone.

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Surveyor1985
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I said "most" people with a 4 year degree are not willing to do physical work, not all. Obviously this depends on the job market where you live. In Charleston SC, things are booming and the job market is good right now. I agree with you that there should be a path to advancement in all companies but that is not always the case. It seems to me that if a company has 5 survey crews of 2 people each, that means that 5 instrument men are being trained for the future of the surveying profession. If a company buys 5 robots, then that means you only have 5 guys working solo. These 5 instrument men in the first example do not exist anymore.

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