Point of Beginning Blog

Sight Lines: How Much Education Do Surveyors Need?

January 16, 2013
Earlier this week, a reader sent me a link to a story about a Florida initiative to try to attract students into education programs for science, engineering and technical fields.

Earlier this week, a reader sent me a link to a story about a Florida initiative to try to attract students into education programs for science, engineering and technical fields. Audio from the interview with the former head of the governor's Education Task Force, Dr. Dale Brill, was posted with the article, and land surveying was one of the fields specifically mentioned as a high-demand career that could benefit from education reforms.

This is good news. However, the interview seemed to indicate that the emphasis in land surveying education, which was mentioned in the same breath as welding and other technical trades, should be shifted away from a four-year bachelor’s degree to an associate degree or certificate.

Brill, an education proponent and business advocate, said his comments were misconstrued. What he was trying to highlight, he said, was the flexibility provided by the state college programs, which offer four-year degrees as well as associate and certificate programs but are often overlooked in favor of the top-tier universities. With Florida’s licensing requirements mandating a minimum four-year degree in surveying and mapping or a four-year degree in another course of study with at least 25 semester hours in surveying and mapping subjects, it would be difficult to conceive that associate and certificate programs alone would allow the state to meet its needs for land surveyors. Brill emphasized that suggesting such an idea was not his intent.

Still, for the reader who sent me the link, it wasn’t a stretch to make that inference. A storm has been brewing in the surveying profession for quite some time. Some might say it has already struck, leaving a field strewn with struggling businesses and frustrated practitioners. Land surveying has long been a noble profession handed down through generations, from father to son or daughter, from mentor to apprentice. The education movement in some regions has been slow to catch on, in part due to a shortage of surveying programs that offer a four-year degree, but also, in some cases, due to a lack of perceived need. Do land surveyors really require a bachelor’s degree? Professionals remain divided on this topic.

Advocates of advanced education point to the increasing complexity of the field as a result of technological innovation. Understanding all the nuances of a changing profession clearly requires a broad-based approach that would be difficult-if not impossible-to obtain through an associate or certificate program. Opponents believe the education system is taking the profession in the wrong direction by emphasizing science over art, and technology over history.

This is a crucial time for a profession that must define itself in order to secure its place in the future. Although education is just one aspect of the debate, it’s an important one. Can the land surveying profession survive with the current approach to education? What else is needed to help the profession thrive with the next generation? How can education programs be tailored to attract more students and adequately prepare them for a successful career in surveying?

Professionals must come to a consensus on these issues, or there may soon come a day when land surveying truly is equated with welding. The future is at stake.
You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

HxGN Live

More than 3,500 attendees from more than 70 countries attended HxGN Live, the annual Hexagon AB user conference, at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas on June 3-6. About 450 keynotes and panel discussions were held, and several companies from around the world exhibited their geospatial products. Here are a few snapshots from the event.


POB April 2015 Cover

2015 April

In this April 2015 issue of POB, we explore how AVEVA solutions and laser scanning gave international contractor Ariosh some real competitive advantages in challenging oil and gas revamp projects.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Is Work Better Today?

Surveyors, how has the newest technologies available to the profession affected you? Compared to five years ago, work today is …
View Results Poll Archive

Point of Beginning Store

M:\General Shared\__AEC Store Katie Z\AEC Store\Images\POB\epubsite\Statues-pic-large.gif
Surveyor Statues

The perfect gift or award for any special occasion.

More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications, Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.


Facebook logo Twitter logo  LinkedIn logo  YouTube logoRPLS small logo

Google +

Geo Locator

Buyers Guide

The #1 buyers' guide for land surveyors and geomatics professionals. Search listings for software and equipment manufacturers, equipment dealers and professional services. CLICK HERE to view GeoLocator.