Point of Beginning

Letters to the Editor: November 2003

October 31, 2003
POB readers sound off on topics from recent issues.

Viewpoint
August 2003

Well done. One of the biggest problems in our profession today is that we have allowed others (lenders, realtors, attorneys, etc.) to incorporate the word "update" into our vocabulary. In doing so, they turned us against [ourselves] in our pricing. We have to take back our profession from people who want to run it and we have to begin by convincing [ourselves] that we will all benefit from charging prices that reflect the liability that we incur on all of our projects. Thanks for saying it.

Henry Dingle

via E-mail

I am a licensed land surveyor in the state of Virginia. [I] moved back to Pennsylvania due to family reasons. Not only [did I go] back in time technology-wise, but [I] also took a major cut in pay [by] staying in the surveying field. [I] graduated from Penn State in 1982 with an associate's degree in surveying [and have] more than 20 years of experience in both city and rural surveying duties, [both] field and office. The owner of the firm where I was last employed was a good man, but due to the poor pay I took a job with an oil and gas firm running an AutoCAD tube and got a 22 percent increase in salary with benefits for the family and a retirement package. [I] left a friend behind at that firm who isn't licensed [but] has about 26 years [of experience] in the field, [and he] makes about $12.50 per hour, trying to support a family. The owner charges $85 to $90 per hour for surveying services, and even with social security, etc., [he] probably spends $50 per hour on the actual costs. Who is reaping the benefits? [I think it is] rather obvious.

When I surveyed in Virginia, the firm billed me at $65 per hour as a licensed land surveyor, and the best I made was $15.85 per hour. Once again, who is reaping the benefits of my experience? Not me-the guy who sat [for] 16 hours worth of exams, [and has] the experience and credentials-but the employer. [I] see a common pattern here [and] even though I am not a union person, I would love to see a union be developed to help all the low-paid technicians and put a squeeze on the cheap owners of the firms employing them. [I have] a friend who is a union electrician [and] hires "dummies" to start at $12 to $15 per hour with no more skills than a poor high school graduate. A union could make a difference.

I am one of the many people in the surveying field who could not make as good a salary at their chosen profession as they could at [an]other technical job.

Paul Sample

via E-mail

I am in agreement with the August 2003 Viewpoint, "The future is ours to choose." [Here are my thoughts on:]

Technician Shortages:

  • In North Carolina, during the recent "mild recession," the newspaper The News and Observer continued to run want ads for survey help.
  • The demand for GEOPAK and Microstation literacy is strong in this market. The N.C. community college system has addressed the supply problem with classes. Education/Marketing:
  • Good surveyors have arisen from both academic and real world experience. The profession must address the fact that clients may be more impressed with a surveyor's education than a successful project history.
  • Those who successfully address a market persist. Those who do not, perish.
  • The surveyor should incorporate GIS and other services. Surveying societies should work to put GIS and construction surveying under the surveying umbrella. Education may be the only avenue available to impress lawmakers with authority and competency requirements.
  • NEVER reduce competency.
  • Surveyors should recognize that anybody can create online maps. The public does not care [about], nor do they understand disclaimers. Personnel Replenishment:
  • New marketing strategies could include addressing the increasing outdoor sports sector. A small brochure on surveying at the checkout counter of outdoor sports retail outlets may help. The stores would profit from provisioning the surveyors.
  • Use catchy themes like "Get Paid To Be Outdoors," "Will Pay SUV Drivers," "Get Paid To Exercise," "Making History," "Helping Build the Future," "Working Outside of the Cube," "Tell People Where To Go," and "A Career With Direction."
  • Establish an outdoor career link on websites of retailers such as Cabella's, National Geographic, etc.

    The future of the surveying profession depends on adaptations to changes in marketplace, societal expectations and the surveyor's personal commitment.

    Richard J. Homovec, PLS

    Raleigh, N.C.

    Bill Beardslee's article is RIGHT ON! I would like to add the following comment: You will never command a respectable fee unless you provide a QUALITY job, EVERY TIME! If you provide a quality job in a timely manner, it will take time, but new clients will seek you out based on your reputation-and [they] will be willing to pay the price that we deserve. Only a quality job will earn the profession the respect we seek. Anything less and you are contributing to the demise of our profession.

    John D. Plumley, LS

    Camden, New York