Readers reply to issues concerning standards, professionalism, and more.

From the Ground Up
May 2005

It was great to see more on accuracy standards in the May issue of POB. Mr. Meade closes his column with some pointers to helpful references. Those looking for additional examples with a range of application may find the Positional Accuracy Handbook helpful. The handbook was created by the Minnesota Governor's Council on Geographic Information and can be downloaded Case studies in the handbook demonstrate how the NSSDA can be applied to a variety of data sets: large-scale data, contract service work, county parcel database, street centerline data and statewide watershed data. The site also includes a spreadsheet template for performing the analysis.

Jay B. Krafthefer, LS

May 2005

In Walter T. Foster's letter (May 2005) he mentions a plan for semi-retirement. It made me wonder what the laws are for our 50 states regarding the surveying limitations imposed on retired surveyors. Here in North Carolina the limitations are severe. Unless you earn 15 Professional Development Hours [PDHs] each year, you are prohibited from doing anything that relates to surveying. You can't sell (or even give away) copies of your plats. You can't look up deeds for a client. You can't give surveying advice. You can't determine grades for a client. You can't help a client find a lost corner. You can't determine how much side yard or front yard a client has. You can't tell a client what rights his deed conveys. You can't calculate any acreages or areas for a client. You can't list yourself as a surveyor in a telephone book, on a calling card or in a letter. You can't even call yourself a surveyor. In other words, once you quit earning 15 PDHs per year you can kiss surveying goodbye. How do other states compare?

Mr. Foster wrote in length about the unjustness of making a four-year degree in surveying a mandatory requirement for licensure. His reasoning is sound and I wholeheartedly agree with him. And I have a degree in agricultural engineering (1951). Formal education should be an assist, not a requirement. The determining factor for licensure should be a person's knowledge and ability.

William Leonard
via E-mail

Editor's Note:
Our last check of continuing education requirements across the states can be found
HERE, from late 2002. As this has not been updated for a number of years, we suggest you contact the state boards for updated information.

I [wrote] a letter that was published in your March 2005 issue regarding the four-year degree requirement to become registered in New Mexico. Walter T. Foster responded to my letter in the May 2005 issue, basically agreeing with the absurdity of the New Mexico law. Mr. Foster also raised a point that led me to do additional research. Mr. Foster wr[ote] that "in a few years these states with four-year degree requirements will not have enough applicants to cover the cost of preparing and giving a land surveyor exam." He went on to say that when that happens "the more politically powerful civil engineering community will push for giving CEs the right to survey." My research yielded the fact that the sponsor of the House bill requiring the four-year degree here in New Mexico was not only a state representative but also a registered professional engineer. I'd also like to pose a question to all of the non-degreed registered surveyors out there who advocate the four-year degree requirement: do you consider yourself to be less qualified than someone with a four-year surveying degree? If you do, would you take the time and money required to obtain a degree in order to retain your registered status? I think we all know the answer to that question. What makes you think it is any easier for someone like me? I am a married, registered surveyor in Arizona with [more than] 25 years of experience. In order to become registered here in New Mexico I would need to move away from my wife to attend the only school in New Mexico with a four-year surveying degree program. All I ask is the opportunity to take the exam to become registered here in New Mexico, but I am being denied that chance. I'm sure there are many others in the same situation throughout the country.

I'd like to respond to the May 2005 Salary and Benefits Survey. I think it's pretty pathetic that while there is such a push for continuing education only 51 percent of companies reimburse employees for doing just that. Also, the median salary for a party chief in the western United States was listed as $49,000 per year. I can attest that despite the degree requirement here, it would be virtually impossible to receive that salary in the state of New Mexico.

Kenneth Klauss
New Mexico

Editor's Note
June 2005

When I read letters about surveyors as professionals they always seem to talk about money. Professionalism is about the quality of work, skill level required, and in the case of surveyors, the fact that you are working just as much for your client's neighbor as you are for your client.

If I just wanted to make money I could always make sure that my surveys favored my clients. That would keep me in demand and probably make me lots of money. We see this with many lawyers, [and] they sure make a lot more money than I do.

I personally have made lots of money because I am a surveyor. I admit that most of it has come from real estate investments but it has been my survey[ing] background that has allowed me to make good investments. I was paying attention when one of my college professors once stated that most surveyors make more money on real estate investments than on actual surveying.

I consider all the surveyors in my area qualified and professional, and would trust any of them to survey my property. All seem to be making a decent living but some have become wealthy. It is obvious to me that the difference is in their business savvy and not in their surveying knowledge. Let's not confuse professionalism with making lots of money.

Harvey Wilcox, PE, PLS

The GPS Observer
June 2005

In this article Dr. Reilly stated that there were no national standards and specifications for surveying with RTK GPS. This statement is not entirely correct. In 2001 the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Forest Service (FS) issued joint Information Memorandum IM 2001 - 186 titled "Standards and Guidelines for Cadastral Surveys Using Global Positioning System Methods." This document consists of two sections: 1) dealing with positional accuracy standards, and 2) GPS survey procedure guidelines. This document was created to address the same issues that Dr. Reilly noted in his column.

During the late 1990s and early 2000s GPS surveying, and RTK GPS surveying in particular, became a major tool for BLM and FS land surveyors. However, examination of the literature showed that any standards and specifications that existed for GPS surveying dealt with control surveying only. There was nothing that addressed the needs of the boundary surveyor who needed to deal with higher production requirements and a less stringent need for accuracy than that needed for geodetic control. This fact was brought to the attention of the chief surveyors for the BLM and FS. The result was that a small team of BLM and FS surveyors and geodesists who were experienced in the use of GPS for surveying developed a set of standards and guidelines that would describe the minimally acceptable requirements accuracy and procedures for both agencies when using GPS for surveying. The resultant draft was based on a combination of direct field experience and utilizing appropriate sections of existing standards. The draft was then internally reviewed by the BLM and FS as well as by several external agencies, including the NGS, before acceptance. The final version was issued in May 2001. Interested readers may obtain a copy by downloading it from:

Presentations on this document have been made at several state surveyor conferences and the FIG held in Washington, D.C., and it has been distributed to interested individuals and agencies. This document has served both agencies well over the last several years and has been adopted by other agencies and organizations.

Michael D. Londe, PhD

The ideas and opinions expressed by our readers do not necessarily reflect those of POB. Send your thoughts to the editor at or mail to: Letters, POB magazine, 2401 W. Big Beaver Rd., Suite 700, Troy, MI 48084.