Career Profile: Surveyors
If you ride or walk down city streets often enough, you’re likely to see people looking through yellow machines that look a bit like cameras. These people are surveyors, who help determine property boundaries, elevations, and other features important to builders and others who need the information.
Surveyors gather information about the land to help deal with questions that people might have about land ownership or its suitability for building. To do this, they take measurements using special instruments and then put the information onto maps and sketches and report on what they have found. They calculate height, depth, and whatever people need to know. Having good mathematical skills is important for this job.
Being a good organizer is important in this career when surveyors plan and direct projects. Often, surveyors work for the government to check property lines and to solve problems that people might have. Suppose that two neighbours had a question about where one person’s property ended and the other began. A surveyor could find the answer. If government officials need information on an area intended for a park or other public area, the work of a surveyor can help them find what they want. Knowing what different clients need can help surveyors find jobs.
Working as a surveyor involves some outdoor work but also office work to record the information and make calculations. Generally, the work is not physically difficult, but it can be tiring to stand for long periods of time or to sit at a desk for hours. Surveyors often have to work with other people, but they should also be able to work alone. Sometimes surveyors have to work long hours, but at other times, they can count on fairly regular hours.
Requirements for surveyors vary from one employer to another, but in general people need either a four-year bachelor’s degree from a university or a two-year diploma in geomatics from a community college. In most areas of Canada, land surveyors need a license from the Association of Canadian Land Surveyors. Local employers might also have special requirements, and it is a good idea to talk with people who can give good advice on what courses to take.
If this job sounds interesting, you can already begin to prepare for work in this field. Mathematics and computer courses are useful to take in high school, and skills in measuring and calculating are also good for preparing people for work as surveyors. Sometimes, surveyors advise other people on legal issues related to property. In that case, some knowledge of the law is useful.
Salaries for surveyors vary in different parts of Canada, with the highest wages currently in Calgary and the lowest in Ontario. The most common wages for land surveyors are between $50,000 and $75,000, but most surveyors in Canada earn between $26,000 and $66,000. For experienced surveyors, salaries can rise as high as $114,000 per year.
If you are a careful and precise worker and would like to help governments and others keep accurate records, the job of surveyor might be right for you.
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