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How Education Raises the Bar for Surveyors

February 6, 2013
The recent article on surveyors and education elicited a broad range of comments, both in the online article and in related social media posts.

The recent article on surveyors and education elicited a broad range of comments, both in the online article and in related social media posts. First, let's state the obvious: A college degree does NOT always make better surveyors, nor do years of experience always make better surveyors. In both scenarios there are many factors, such as the intelligence and personality of the individual, the quality of the education and the quality of the experience.

Of course, if we truly want to be good or great at anything in life, we can never stop learning and practicing. But what is the minimum amount of required education a surveyor should have to be allowed to take the surveyor's exam? Is it none? Is it an associate degree? Is it a bachelor’s or master’s degree? Or maybe it should be a doctorate?

Let's look at society. Do we as surveyors want to be perceived as being in the same category as mechanics or welders, or do we want to our profession to be compared to that of engineers, architects, attorneys and even doctors? If we as a profession want to gain more respect and earn a higher income, then we need to meet the same standards as other esteemed professions. How many engineers, architects or attorneys do you know that don't have a four-year college degree? I'm sure there are a few, but not many. In fact, many architects have a master’s degree and there has been much talk of engineers changing their requirements to a master’s degree as well.

If we want to be known as professionals, then we must have an education requirement. Arguing about whether it makes an individual a better surveyor is really a moot point. In general, education does make better surveyors when combined with quality experience.

Today’s young men and women who excel in high school seek out college degrees that will reward them for their excellence, either through higher pay or a rewarding career. Is surveying a consideration? The perception that surveying can provide a challenging and rewarding career will attract better talent to the profession and will boost our image as professionals.

The bottom line is that excelling at anything requires discipline, sacrifice and hard work. There are NO shortcuts; we must continually improve our skills and knowledge. Obtaining a four-year degree won't teach us everything we need to know about surveying, but it will teach us how to learn and then communicate that knowledge to others. If we want to be viewed as professionals, we should not look at surveying as a job someone can "fall" into but rather as a highly skilled career that takes years of education, training and experience, just to meet the minimum proficiency.

A college degree is the first step in the lifelong process of learning and education that is needed to be a good surveyor. It’s time to raise the bar.