A friend introduced Caleb McCanlies, 28, to land surveying three years ago. “The prospect of basically solving puzzles and drawing for a living caught my attention,” he says, now a senior draftsman at the Dallas-Fort Worth-based, Eagle Surveying. “I knew almost immediately that I wanted to be a professional land surveyor.” After recently passing the NCEES Fundamentals of Surveying (FS) to become a surveyor in training (SIT), McCanlies is well on his way. Here’s how he did it:


On taking the exam …

I like challenges and the feeling of doing a good job.

“This is my first time taking the exam. I knew to make progress in my career I needed my SIT Certificate. The main motivator regarding anything I do is my family. Job security and a decent income is something I need to support my family. Aside from that, I just like challenges and the feeling of doing a good job.”


On exam preparation …

“I started studying specifically for the exam at the start of 2020 with the exam outline as a general topical guide. I mainly studied the NCEES practice exam, Jan Van Sickle’s Surveying Solved Problems (5th), and George M. Cole’s Surveyor Reference Manual (7th). Alongside those, I’ve borrowed various books from current and previous mentors. Like many people, I found more free time than usual in 2020, and I put it to use in my own productive way: studying.”


On feeling prepared …

“During the exam, I felt confident for the most part. I studied a variety of materials and have had exposure to multiple methods of solving problems. I still had some anxiety while awaiting results in the days following the exam, but I felt going into it that I had studied all that I could.”


On the exam topics …

“There’s a very wide spread in both topics and difficulty. For the most part, I recognized methods and concepts from everyday work and from my studies. I believe the questions were either updated or written to comply with today’s standards and to apply to the most current common surveying practices.”


On what’s next … 

“Now that I have my SIT Certificate, I’m focused on the next steps. I’m designating an RPLS for internship, putting my application for the RPLS exam together, and continuing to learn as much as possible every day. I will do all that I can to pass the next exam for my professional licensure in a few short years.”