New Surveyors in your state
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!
There is always a shortage in surveyors, has been since the late 1960s and heard stories of the same before then.
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.
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.
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.