Why Are Land Surveyors Suddenly Becoming Scarce to Hire?
As far back as 1,400 B.C. land surveyors used measuring cords, pegs, and other tools to measure the plot points of property and the distances between them. This was very important to determine tax values in ancient Egypt. Surveying is still used today, but with a few upgrades to measuring technology, including the use of drones, satellites, and map drawing computer software.
It’s a popular joke in the land surveying world that it’s “the world’s second oldest profession.” Many of the founding fathers of the USA, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln, were surveyors. Their work helped map and define our land, leading to its settlement and prosperity.
Land Surveyors are in high demand
Although sometimes overlooked, land surveying is a viable career. Surveyors are in high demand in many industries, including engineering, construction, forensic, environmental among many others. There is currently a shortage of land surveyors, which has led to increased demand and higher salaries in the industry.
This shortage is due to a combination of factors, including an aging workforce, a lack of young people entering the profession, and the increasing complexity of surveying technology. Because the average age of a licensed land surveyor in the United States at 57, there could soon be a shortage of surveyors as this age group retires. This will leave a large gap in the workforce for young people to fill.
Becoming a Land Surveyor is a great long-term career
For the past several years employers have had a hard time trying to fill jobs for land surveyors for regional jobs sites, especially in more rural areas. “The younger generation often overlooks surveying as a career,” said Jim Davis, who manages three crews across three regional sites in North Carolina. “A four-year degree is not required to become a party chief, instrument man, or a CAD operator. A technical or community college will provide training and internship opportunities, allowing for new graduates to get a job right away. The problem is that there is not a lot of promotion of the profession in high schools. More needs to be done to bring awareness to what a great long-term career it can be.”
Jim has served on the N.C. Society of Surveyors Education Foundation. The Foundation has provided scholarships to aspiring land survey students at several N.C. community colleges. “The money has gone unused in recent years. This is disappointing and a bad sign for the future of the profession,” Jim said. “The country needs more land surveyors. Who is going to measure distances for all the new construction of roads, bridges, and buildings?” The recent Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is supplying funding for all of these projects, yet where are municipalities and companies going to find all of the surveyors for these projects with such a shortage in the workforce?
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