There are around 330 professional land surveyors to Puerto Rico’s population of 3 million, as we first reported in our interview with the island’s Puerto Rico Association of Land Surveyors. But there is more to the story, according to Victor M. Seda-Figueroa, president of the Puerto Rico Institute of Land Surveyors.
Many land surveyors are leaving the island for opportunities in the states. As a result, the profession is hurting for more people to teach the next generation. Here, Seda shares why Puerto Rico is a great place to be a land surveyor once you can see the opportunities on the island.
What would you say is the majority type of work available to land surveyors in Puerto Rico?
Currently defining property boundaries and as-built surveys. We look forward to an economic revival to support the development of new infrastructure and foster economic growth.
About how large is Institute of Land Surveyors of the Professional College of Engineers and Land Surveyors of Puerto Rico? How many programs and graduates from those programs? Compared to previous years, is the institute growing?
Currently there are about 350 surveyors and 700 engineers who can practice surveying. There is an academic program for surveyors in the west of the island and another in the metropolitan area aimed at closing. It would be between 20 to 40 graduates a year. It is decreasing. I would like to clarify that the Land Surveyors Institute and the Professional College of Engineers and Land Surveyors of Puerto Rico are not universities nor educational institutions. They are an institution that helps Puerto Rico Board of Examiners regulating both professions, Engineering and Land Surveying.
How would you say Institute of Land Surveyors of the Professional College of Engineers and Land Surveyors of Puerto Rico has grown the most over the years?
In recent years our institute has diminished due to emigration of many surveyors to the states.
What do you think is affecting the growth of the land surveying profession the most in Puerto Rico? Lack of awareness? Training? Lack of Education? Technology? Or do you think the profession is growing in other ways?
Fifteen years of economic stagnation and a bankrupt government has halted construction works and formal procedures related to property limits where the licensed professional intervenes. Informal works prevail outside the law where the licensed surveyor does not intervene.
What would you say is the marquee survey project that has been completed in Puerto Rico? What would you say is one popular survey project underway in the Puerto Rico at the moment?
None, and that's a problem.
Do land survey professionals need their license to be involved with the Institute of Land Surveyors of the Professional College of Engineers and Land Surveyors of Puerto Rico?
Yes. At least they need to be Surveyors in training (LSIT).
What rules or laws are on the books or up for review would you say threaten the survey profession in Puerto Rico?
I cannot identify laws or rules that threaten. The main threat is non-compliance with existing laws and the lack of interest in enforcing them by the authorities.
What is the best way for someone to get involved in Institute of Land Surveyors of the Professional College of Engineers and Land Surveyors of Puerto Rico?
We need committed volunteers to help interact with government authorities so that they understand the role of the surveyor as a serious implementation of the associated regulations, and understand that their role will be of benefit to the community.
If you are a surveyor in Puerto Rico, what kind of quality of life (salary, projects, work-life balance) would you say someone can expect?
If you were a surveyor when the country government borrowed everything that we cannot pay now, you are good. If you started a little bit later after that, then you'll survive. If you are one of the new ones, you will need to consider other alternatives.
What do you think makes Puerto Rico a great place to practice the land surveying profession?
It seems that there will be a lot of work for surveyors in the near future, due to federal government funds for disaster relief in reconstructions of highways, housing and infrastructure.