Reality check.

At the 2002 annual meeting of the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) last August, the top six most significant issues to meeting delegates included the value of licensure and exam issues. On the topic of “value of licensure,” delegates reported that strategic efforts should be focused on: “promoting the value of engineering and its effect on the quality of life, and informing the public of the benefits of selecting qualified, licensed practitioners for public and private projects.” My main problem with that statement was the omission of the word “surveying.” Aside from what I hope is a technicality, I believe that the great intentions of the national council can provide a foundation from which surveyors—whether on a local or state level—can build.

With the results of NCEES studies, surveyors can direct their attention to the most needed areas. There is a drastic decrease in surveying licensees in every state. The price of the PLS exam is increasing. Some of the few degree programs in the country are deteriorating or collapsing altogether. The public is ignorant of what surveying is. These are the unfortunate realities of the profession. And the reality is that something needs to be done.

Active professionals can promote and improve the profession, those who are passionate and who care about the future of the profession. Improvements to the profession start with conversation, like the many posts on This is great, to be sure. But unless our views and convictions are directed to those in positions to make a difference (i.e., those on state and national boards, representatives in state governments, in Congress, etc.), our words may well be dead air.

A strong supporter of the surveying profession recently said to me, “Teachers and guidance counselors don’t even know what surveying is.” It’s something I’ve heard before and will probably hear again. It’s another unfortunate reality. What’s worse is that I hear about how the surveying profession doesn’t have a strong marketing presence and never really has. This needs to change if the profession is to see any newcomers in future years. And with others like NCEES spearheading surveys about the state of the industry and by watching examples from other professions AND by promoting what surveyors LOVE to do, they will come.

Direct hands-on experience is more valuable than many realize—and it’s a great way to get someone to latch onto a lesson. As Confucious said: “I hear and I forget. I see and I believe. I do and I understand.” The classroom experience is beneficial—and often mandatory (see page 22)—but working with data in a real world application can be what it takes for a student to choose surveying over another profession.

This is an exciting profession. I am still a student after these few years as editor of POB, and I love going out in the field with surveyors. The information I read makes much more sense when, say, I have a GPS system strapped to my back. Such mentor-like experiences can help others to “promote the value of surveying and its effect on the quality of life.”

To contact the editor, send an E-mail to or mail to 755 W. Big Beaver Rd., Ste. 1000, Troy, MI 48084.