Through strategic partnerships, the Nevada Association of Land Surveyors (NALS) has been able to extend the reach of its influence across state lines.
“Of specific importance is the high percentage of licensees that are members compared to the number of potential members that reside in the state. There are approximately 280 licensed land surveyors that reside in Nevada and 192 are members of NALS,” explains Greg Phillips, NALS 2020 president. “NALS, through participation in Western Federation of Professional Surveyors (WFPS), has developed a good relationship with our neighboring state associations. This has allowed us to partner with them to host joint conferences, enabling the associations to pool resources and offer a more diverse program.”
Most recently, NALS has worked with Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) to provide land surveyors direct electronic access to records, a feat that could not accomplished without strong inner-state partnerships.
“We have multiple committees that are always looking for volunteers to bring new ideas. Additionally, our local chapters have opportunities as well,” says Phillips. “We have a place for everyone. If you have 1 hour a month to volunteer, or an unlimited amount of time to commit, we have a place for you to participate!”
What do you think is affecting the growth of the land surveying profession in general the most?
There is definitely a need for awareness/outreach that spotlights the profession as a potential career path. It seems the majority of land surveyors enter the profession by following in the footsteps of a family member or fall into the profession randomly. In the past, outreach has been direct to students, usually in high school, and through resources such as Trig-Star. In an effort to increase awareness to those individuals that guide youth to career paths, NALS has been exhibiting at School Counselor Conferences. NALS will continue to support outreach that provides awareness not only to students but to the adults that help guide them as well.
Additionally, there are few schools that offer land surveying programs and many of the two-year and certificate programs have recently been removed. Working to get more two-year and certificate programs especially that would transfer to our four-year degree program at Great Basin College is a goal NALS is working toward.
What would you say is the majority type of work available to land surveyors in Nevada?
The type of work available in Nevada can vary greatly depending on where you are located in the state and the industry in which you specialize. Over 80 percent of Nevada is public land managed by the federal government. In these more rural areas there is a lot of survey opportunity in mining, ranching, and water rights work. In the more populated areas, primarily the greater Reno and Las Vegas areas, housing drives much of the private development work and public infrastructure.
Is there a marquee survey project that has been completed in Nevada?
We have had a lot of recent development in public infrastructure, private development, and mining in Nevada. We just completed the largest public works project in the history of the state last year. “Project Neon” was an enhancement of the interchange of Interstate 15 in downtown Las Vegas with a price tag of $1 billion.
Just a couple of miles south of Project Neon, the Allegiant Stadium, the new home of the NFL Las Vegas Raiders, was completed earlier in 2020. Large-scale industrial centers have been, and are being, developed in both northern and southern Nevada. The Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center is approximately 107,000 acres and is home to the Tesla Gigafactory, which is estimated to be the largest building in the world at 15 million square feet when built out.
Do survey professionals need their license to be involved with the NALS?
NALS welcomes participation from everyone! There are certain positions that must be held by a licensed individual, but there are many opportunities for members in all stages of their career to serve in leadership roles. NALS has supported the growth of our land surveying students, survey techs, and Land Survey Interns (LSI) by supporting the Nevada Young Surveyors Network (YSN). NALS provides financial support to the YSN and includes them in chapter meetings, committees, and with a representative on the Board of Directors.
What rules or laws are on the books or up for review would you say threaten the survey profession in Nevada?
There seems to be a national trend to deregulate professions such as land surveying. This is something NALS is watching closely and considers to be one of the greatest threats to the profession, not only in Nevada but nationally. NALS has been an advocate of supporting the Alliance for Responsible Professional Licensing as they are providing the public and the media with important information regarding responsible licensing of highly technical professions such as land surveying. NALS often shares their information via our social media.
If you are a surveyor in the state of Nevada, what kind of quality of life would you say someone can expect?
I believe that Nevada is one of the best places to achieve a great work-life balance in surveying. The State of Nevada provides this opportunity through its diverse geography and economy. This diversity provides the opportunity to create a career that will allow you to develop professionally as a land surveyor.
When my wife and I moved here from Missouri over 20 years ago, I had a job lined up before setting foot in the state. I was a young crew chief at the time. My hourly wage doubled, and I was astonished at the diversity of work that was available. I remember my first week working with my boss on a new gondola at the Heavenly (Mountain) ski area, on the state line between Nevada and California. We took our lunch break on a rock outcrop that is now an observation deck at the ski resort at a little over 9,000’ elevation. From there you can see all of Lake Tahoe and the Carson Valley. It was one of the most amazing views of our new home, and I knew right then we had made the right decision of starting our new life in Nevada.
What do you think makes Nevada a great state to practice the land surveying profession?
I think what makes Nevada the best state to practice in is the combination of the diverse geography and the people in this state. Nevada is vast, wide open, and independent. We have forested mountains over 13,000’, beautiful lakes and desert landscapes at a variety of elevations. We have the Great Basin National Park and the world-famous Las Vegas strip. The residents of this state value the quality of life and understand the importance of open space and individual property rights. All of these things make Nevada the best place to practice land surveying.