When I was president of the Institute of Land Surveyors of the Professional College of Engineers and Land Surveyors of Puerto Rico, I received several calls a week from companies established in the United States in search of Puerto Rican talent. They told me that the surveyors in Puerto Rico were extremely valuable. You may ask yourself, why? I think it is necessary to take a brief look at the history of our territory first, and then delve into the subject.
Puerto Rico was invaded by the US military on May 12, 1898. Since then, Puerto Rico is American territory. Puerto Ricans are American citizens by birth since 1917, so we do not need a passport to travel to the states. At school we are taught the English language, which means that most surveyors are fluent in English. Being an American territory, the accreditations obtained by the universities are the same as those obtained in the states and the FS and PS exam are also offered by the NCEES, allowing reciprocity in any of the states.
The surveyor that studies in Puerto Rico obtains a bachelor's degree (4-5 years) either in Surveying and Cartography from the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico (accredited by ABBET) located in San Juan or in Surveying and Topography from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez campus. Our land administration system is metes and bounds, similar to the system used in the 13 colonies and other states such as Texas, Kentucky and Tennessee. Although we do not use the PLSS system, it is taught at the university so that we have a foundation of how it works.
These details are some of the factors that make US-based companies keen to hire Puerto Rican surveyors. Nonetheless, our potential goes beyond moving to any state with ease and working with commitment and enthusiasm on what we are so passionate about. What really distinguishes Puerto Rico as a respectable resource for surveying is that Puerto Rican land surveying professional services corporations have the ability to export their services to any part of the US and — more significantly — they have the right set of skills to provide the technical support that any project in the states and other territories may need.