March 2002 Letters to the Editor
I read your observations on the dwindling pool of emerging surveyors. What you said is absolutely true. I have been in this field since 1966 and found many reasons for the decline. Here in Connecticut the pay is not commensurate with the cost of living in the northeast. I would expect this would hold true in other regions. The pay for a young entry-level kid out of high school who might apprentice is laughable. He might as well go to the supermarket and stock shelves and be comfortable.
Another problem is respect. Engineers are zeroing in on the structural end seeing more respect and a better future. Surveying carries no prestige if you are into that sort of thing. You work in all sorts of weather conditions: cold, hot, snow, wind, etc. To make surveying attractive they will have to compete with more than the grocery profession. This is the 21st century and I don’t think the profession has kept up with the times. If anyone really cares to do something (i.e. to pay a 21st century wage), the surveying profession will have to compete with more than Stop & Shop.
After reading your most recent column in POB, January 2002, I am truly sorry that you and many others have missed the true point as to why enrollment in the surveying profession is on the decline. When a kid can drop out of high school and get a job framing houses and make more money than a surveyor intern, there is a serious problem. Why do you think there is a shortage of men in the teaching profession? Well, it’s not from having summers off.
It is difficult to hire and keep people when they need to be experienced or at least able to read civil plans, architectural plans, structural plans, run high-tech equipment that “talks” to satellites and run complicated programs—yet make less money than people in other industries. If current surveyors would stop giving away their services, we all could charge more and raise the reward level in our industry.
Most engineering students are exposed to surveying in one form or another. Most of the time a civil engineering student has to take a semester of surveying. If they were told, “If you are looking for a career that pays I would look into surveying if I were you,” you would have students tearing down the doors. I really don’t think a plastic plumb bob will do the trick!
The bottom line is money! If the money is there, they will come. Just look at the IT industry where kids are making $100,000 or more right out of college.
Lawrence S. Pepek PLS, BSBA