This information is used for a variety of purposes, from construction to engineering projects. In the industry, land surveyance is also known as geomatics or geomatic surveying.
What is a Land Surveyor?
Land surveyance involves careful measurement of the features of land. You’ll cover everything from geographical boundaries between differently owned land areas and topographical surveying through to buildings built upon land masses and their impact on potential projects.
A land surveyor salary depends on areas of specialism, how senior you are, and your location.
You’ll usually work within a wider team of architects, construction managers and engineers. There are lots of different types of land surveyor, depending on the kind of work you’re involved in. You could become a legal surveyor, solving legal disputes about ownership and land issues; a boundary surveyor, helping to make decisions about land ownership; a utility surveyor, locating pipes and underground utilities; and even a building surveyor, assessing the safety and practicality of buildings.
Your responsibilities as a land surveyor vary depending on your specialism. There are some common duties you can expect, though;
- Create charts and pictorial representations of your findings using computer aided design (CAD) software - this is especially true for map surveyors.
- Gather information using geographic information systems (GIS).
- Have a good awareness of relevant legislation relating to your field of work, such as public health and safety measures.
- Have a good knowledge of your area of specialism, such as building surveyance, and use this information to inform your reporting wherever possible.
- Interpreting the information you’ve gathered through surveying and provide detailed, but user friendly reports for colleagues to work from.
- Keep up to date with advances in the field.
- Liaise with a wider multidisciplinary team of professionals to create collaborative reports for clients.
- Offer consultancy and advice on smaller projects that you’re not directly involved in.
- Using land surveyor equipment to assess underground boundaries, utilities and more.
- Using specialist software to assess land masses.
A land surveyor salary depends on areas of specialism, how senior you are, and your location. The closer to London and the higher up in your company you are, the more likely you are to be paid.
The average land surveyor salary is around £30,000. In trainee land surveyor jobs, you can expect to begin on a salary of around £25,000, and with the right experience in the role, could earn up to £75,000 and above.
A degree isn’t a necessity to work in land surveyor jobs, but it can be helpful. This is especially true if you have limited experience in the land surveying industry, as degree study will teach you what you need to know to apply for entry level positions.
The vital training you need to do your job will be part of your course study.
There are a variety of courses that would train you well for a career in the industry, some more specialist than others. It’s worth researching what type of surveyance you’re most interested in, as there might be a degree that focuses specifically on that area of work. Here are some examples:
- Building Control degrees
- Civil Engineering degrees
- Construction Management degrees
- Estate Management degrees
- Geography degrees (with a surveyance specialism)
- Geospatial and Mapping Science degrees
- International Planning degrees
- Quantity Surveying degrees
Some individuals choose a more generalised degree, then go on to specialise at postgraduate level. Some specialist postgraduate courses in surveyance include:
- Building Information Management
- Housing and City Planning
- Transport and City Planning
- Urban Regeneration
For degree study you’ll need two to three A levels, ideally including some kind of geography, science, or practical subject. You’ll also need a minimum of 5 GCSEs at grades 9-4 (A*-C).
Alternatively, you could go down the apprenticeship route. Examples of land surveying apprenticeships include surveying technician apprenticeships, or ones in geospatial mapping. You’ll need a minimum of 4-5 GCSE’s grades 9-4 (A*-C). Whether you go down the degree or apprenticeship route, you’ll want to make sure your course is accredited by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
Training and development
The vital training you need to do your job will be part of your course study. There are, however, lots of skills and practical qualities that you’ll learn on the job. It’s worth asking to shadow senior surveyors to learn their techniques, as well as the kind of equipment and technology they work with.
You should receive work experience through placements as part of your course.
You could also work towards becoming a Chartered Surveyor with the RICS. This gives you a professional accreditation, and could help you when applying to more senior positions. As a member of the RICS, you’ll get access to regular continuous professional development (CPD). This includes webinars and summits as well as more formal programs, such as dedicated training programs. If you become a Chartered Surveyor, you’ll be expected to keep up to date with relevant CPD in order to maintain your status.
Much of the skills you need for land surveying are taught as part of your course. There are several other organisational traits you’ll need, too. Examples include:
- Attention to detail - you’ll be looking closely at minute measurements around land masses.
- Confidence with technology and ability to pick up how to use new equipment quickly - especially for work as a utility surveyor.
- Understanding of how to use key systems such as GIS and CAD.
- A good knowledge of Maths and Geography, as these subjects run throughout surveyance work.
- Ability to work within a multidisciplinary team - you could work with contractors in all different areas, so you’ll need to work well with others.
- Good verbal communication skills - you’ll be expected to pass on detailed information to team members so this is key.
- Good grasp of written English - you’ll need to file reports and summaries for your team.
You should receive work experience through placements as part of your course. This should give you a good understanding of the main methods of surveying in your area of specialism. If these aren’t included, it’s worth asking your course tutors or the wider education community if there are any connections within your industry that would allow you to shadow an experienced surveyor.
Land surveyance involves careful measurement of the features of land.
Alternatively, it’s worth reaching out to local surveying companies to ask if you could shadow a member of their staff, acting as a trainee land surveyor or a trainee building surveyor. Examples of larger surveying firms include Shape Surveyors, Storm Geomatics and CTG Surveyors. You could also try local construction businesses, and engineering firms.
Land surveying includes a variety of skills and knowledge, meaning your career prospects are broad and varied. You could start working as a junior surveyor and move into management positions, or alternatively with additional training specialise in a particular area of surveyance. Examples include working towards engineering surveyor jobs or utility surveyor jobs.
You could also move into a self employed role as contracting surveyor, running your own business with set clients, or move into project management roles. It’s particularly helpful to have gained accreditation as a chartered surveyor, if you’d like to go down this route.