Land Surveyor as a Career

11 Replies


I have been considering a career change. I absolutely love real estate investing and would like a day job that is in the industry. I have taken a hard look at both becoming a Realtor and an Escrow officer but was not satisfied either would be the right fit. As I have continued to search I thought of land surveying. I already flip raw land am very interested in surveying. Do we have any surveyors here on biggerpockets? Any individuals or resources you all might be able to point me to? 


Do you have any surveying experience?

If not, I would suggest looking into surveying classes at your local community college.

You will start off as an assistant.  In construction surveying we would say you start at the dummy end of the tape.  In other words, you would not start out running equipment but you would be driving stakes and setting hubs.


Thanks for the input. The only similar experience I have is running a transit level and grade stick on building foundations and sidewalks. 

It has been 20+ years since I did any surveying, but land surveying uses a total station and a lot of math.  Total stations are easier than transits (what you used was a level), but there is still a learning curve.

You will end up on a survey crew to start.  I do not know what it takes to become licensed.  But I imagine your local community college has courses to jumpstart a surveying career.

I'm going to contact some businesses around town and get a feel for how the job market is and what type of training is needed. Actually the Realtor who sold me my house 10+ years ago is also a surveyor so I'll start there. 

You may also want to look into learning the CAD/drafting and GIS side of surveying. I sometimes work with surveyors as part of my day job and the level of technological ability among companies varies greatly. Some can churn out a decent PDF survey, but if you ask for the base CAD or shapefiles they are a mess. If you knew how to create high quality, professional deliverables for clients you would increase your value to an employer and within the industry. ESRI offers many free or inexpensive online classes on their ArcGIS software and I'm sure there are CAD/drafting classes at a local college.

I loved it as a kid survey ing in the moutains North of SF loved being in the Woods.

inner city not so much

Not to pour water on your surveying parade, but I know a lot of civil engineers who are underemployed since subdivision development work ground to a halt several years ago.

Thanks for the input everyone. @Max Householder thank you for thh ideas. Subdivision development has continued to boom locally despite the national lull (if you google population of kennewick or pasco wa you'll see why) however the national situation still affects competition for jobs here. There is definitely a lot to it and I'll keep digging. 

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@David Fritch interesting career selection - one related question is how much do land surveyors get paid? Just curious how their compensation is structured 

@Joe Fairless As far as I can tell the average salary in my area is just under 50k. Not great but enough for me to live off plus benefits and I would hope a lot of opportunity and advantages in my land flipping business. 

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