Should there be an official nationwide title for land surveyors?

Point of View, May 2000. With the number of titles associated to land surveyors, and the amount of confusion and controversy among the public and the industry itself, we asked visitors to POB Online to tell us how they view the issue—and what should be done.

With the number of titles associated to land surveyors, and the amount of confusion and controversy among the public and the industry itself, we asked visitors to POB Online ( to tell us how they view the issue—and what should be done. Of the 43 responses, 35 said they believe there is confusion among the public and sometimes within the industry regarding the various titles of surveyors. Thirty-five (35) respondents also said there should be an official nationwide title for a licensed land surveyor. They indicated preferences of: LS: land surveyor (2), PS: professional surveyor (5), PLS: professional land surveyor (19), RLS: Registered land surveyor (5), RPLS: Registered professional land surveyor (8), LLS: Licensed land surveyor (2). Other desired labels mentioned were Professional construction surveyor, PSM: Professional Surveyor and Mapper and Cadastralyst.

Here are some of their comments:

There is confusion between engineers and surveyors (i.e.: My friend works as a surveyor for ABC Construction and he can survey my corners. or Are you the engineer on this job?)—LS, Alaska

There is uncertainty as to what a surveyor actually does or is supposed to do.—LS, Pa.

The various titles show that as a whole our profession seems disorganized. How can we expect the public and/or other professionals to give us the respect we want as professionals when we can’t even agree what to call ourselves?—Surveyor, Ohio

By title, the public doesn’t know if they are dealing with “someone in charge” or just a lackey.—LS, Wis.

The title of professional land surveyor doesn’t really have any “name recognition” in the general sense.—LS, Calif., Colo., Ariz.

Misleading titles may make the public believe they are receiving one type of survey when they really want something else.—LS, Fla.

Most of the public has no idea what a surveyor does, or what it takes to become licensed.—PLS, Conn.

The public may be led to believe there are different categories of licensed surveyors. When in fact being licensed gives each surveyor the right to practice in each area of surveying that he is qualified for. The title that accompanies the liecense does not make the surveyor, but informs the public that this person meets the criteria to be qualified to survey.—LS, Mich.

Various titles cause confusion between surveyors from other states.—PLS, Calif.

By leaving out the term “professional,” we are cutting ourselves short. We have been trying to upgrade our status as professionals for years, yet many surveyors don’t even use the term “professional” to describe themselves. By using either Professional Surveyor or Professional Land Surveyor to describe ourselves, we are at least making a step in the right direction.—LSIT, N.Y.

It causes a lack of respect for a profession that once was considered on the same level with lawyers, architects and engineers.—LS and engineer, N.C.

There is confusion between what a civil engineer does and what a land surveyor does. There is also confusion in the GIS community as to the role of the professional land surveyor in mapping and GIS.—LS, Wis.

The term “professional” may lead the public to believe they are dealing with a professional when they are not.—Surveyor, N.C.

Congratulations to this month’s POB gear winners, Douglas S. Jewel, Strongville, Ohio and W. G. Martin, Wadesboro, N.C.

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