Editor’s Note: Time for action.
April 2008

I am in full agreement with what you wrote in the April 2008 edition of POB magazine. I have an Associate of Science degree in land surveying from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and have been a registered professional land surveyor in five states for over 20 years.

In 1984, the Associate of Science degree program at the Fayetteville, Ark., campus moved to UALR [University of Arkansas at Little Rock] and became a four-year degree program. Little Rock is approximately 220 miles from where I now live--Rogers, Arkansas. Needless to say, that is a little bit out of my driving range to be able to attend day classes. I would still like to further my education and graduate from a four-year degree program.

I have checked online, exhaustively, for such a program that I could complete online or with some in-class courses held at a local university or community college (we have a few in my area). But no one seems to know anything about it. I know one of the reasons for not having a course (like a four-year degree program) available in my area is economics, but there are many other reasons, and you mentioned several in your editorial.

My question (finally) to you is: Do you know of an institution or can you point me in the right direction toward an institution that offers a four-year degree program online?
S. Craig Davis, PLS

Editor’s Note:

Those interested in surveying/mapping/GIS programs will find our compilation of college and university program specifics useful. Click to our Web site at www.pobonline.com, then click on Product Surveys to see our 2008 College & University Survey spreadsheet.

I believe that many of those who responded to your “important industry issue” online are living in a fantasy world. It is still beyond my comprehension how licensed land surveyors can call themselves professionals without a Bachelor of Science degree! How can 6 percent more of the respondents prefer a two-year degree? How many professions are there in the United States that require no college? I have been asking myself these questions for more than 30 years. In a recent survey in California, the state society found that 74 percent of professional surveyors were not in favor of a four-year degree requirement for an LS license. And because of a shortage of land surveyors in California, Caltrans pays them the same as civil engineers! I do not understand why the question of education has been discussed for so many years. A minimum of a B.S. degree and three years of surveying experience should be required for a license. Perhaps more people would pass the land surveyor’s exam if they had a B.S. degree. Why is this issue still a political football?
John K. Beck, PE, LS

I offer some personal/humble thoughts after reading your “Time for action” piece.

Most often when I read the two opinions regarding these issues, there is a nagging feeling that positions are being stated by eyes looking through a set of blinders. I admit to have led a sheltered life and do not claim to be familiar with all the jurisdictional requirements, [but] most familiar state licensure laws are fashioned after the NCEES Model Law for Surveying. Some folks say that model is in effect a three-legged stool supported by “Education, Experience and Examination.” I tend to agree. Some comments appear to perceive that a surveying graduate can be licensed after successfully passing the exam without any field, office or hands-on experience. I feel this is wrong. I am under the impression (again leading a somewhat sheltered life) [that] the experience requirement, though varying between jurisdictions, must be met before one can sit for the final “E” of the stool (Examination) in order to offer professional surveying services to the public. It has also been my experience that the public now demands, more than ever, that they deal with someone who is educated. It is our own fault (and a totally separate discussion) that we do not charge for our knowledge--”book knowledge” or “muddy boot knowledge.”

Surely the other professions that I may typically work with besides surveying require an apprenticeship (i.e., law, medical, engineering) in order to meet the definition of professional under their state laws. Am I missing something in the comments you have reported, or do a lot of folks get licensed by education and examination only? I think not!

During my other life dealing with the professional licensure organizations, there were folks that purported the professional stool was actually four-legged--the fourth “E” being Enforcement within the profession. I tend to agree. Those folks that build a one-legged stool (Experience only) or a two-legged stool (Experience and Education only) are often likely to be those that end up with no license and no stool based on the investigations and findings of the fourth leg. Food for thought!

I most strongly agree that it is a time for action! The profession is taking a dramatic change and needs cool and focused heads to provide leadership and vision. Surveyors up!
James R. Riney, PE, PS

The ideas and opinions expressed by our readers do not necessarily reflect those of POB. Send your thoughts to the editor at hohnerl@bnpmedia.