The “Education Debate” continues in the surveying profession. In general, parties remain divided on whether two years or four years of formal schooling should be required to sit for the licensure exam.

In February, we asked our Web site visitors to give us their opinions on this important industry issue (experience qualifications aside). Results reflected that 6 percent more respondents preferred a two-year degree over a four-year degree. I’m not surprised; people are “up in arms” every time news comes through about another state passing a four-year degree requirement (these states, by the way, are still in the minority). I did, however, find it interesting that 23 percent of our pollers voted for a high school diploma as sufficient education to sit for the exam. And 7 percent even voted for no educational requirements.

One poller contested that if a tester can pass the exam without having had any formal education, why not grant him or her professional surveyor credentials? Another poller commented on his support for post high school education as well as a sort of “mobile education.” “There is no substitute for hands-on, actual field experience in the land surveying profession,” the poller wrote. “An internship with a land surveying firm offers a motivated individual the opportunity to learn the how-to’s of land surveying principles that you cannot learn in a classroom situation.”

Another poller commented that some four-year programs are so vast that they tend to steer away from survey-oriented curriculum and focus, rather, on engineering. He (or she) writes: “Typically, this leads to surveying candidates that are mathematically knowledgeable enough to pass an academic test but do not have the field experience to evaluate evidence and not enough local knowledge to perform the necessary courthouse research.”

So, we have the usual span of opinions on the education debate. This span exists because of the well-known passion those in the surveying community possess. But all the individual education (and experience) in the world isn’t going to be worth a darn if surveyors don’t get involved and take responsibility for the future of their profession. My hope is that this passion and strong opinion will soon contribute to a turnaround in the profession--a profession in need of new blood, seasoned professionals and legislative and political support. It’s time that words turn to action.

As one poller observed: “We need to get people through the system and into the work environment. Yet, it seems that every chance that professionals get to ‘cut through’ the red tape or to simplify the process, we do the opposite.” In many respects, I agree. What or who are we waiting for to strengthen the surveying community? What are you or what is your firm doing to recruit, retain and mentor newcomers? When is the last time you you engaged in the teaching circuit or participated in a local, regional or state meeting pertinent to surveying?

My concerns envelope the need for mentors, instructors and companies that will strive to supply the existing demand for surveyors in their regions or states.

Basically, I think it’s time many stopped talking and started acting. We have the resources and perspectives to make appropriate changes for the surveying profession. So why aren’t we?