The Need for Highly Skilled and Well-trained Surveyors

student essay | by Chris Kauffman

SPECIAL ESSAY SECTION: The Future of Surveying

Student Essay Finalist


A couple of years ago, shortly after I made the decision to pursue a career in surveying, a man whom I have come to have great respect and admiration for told me something that I remember most every day.  He told me that if you put 20 surveyors together in a room and present each one of them with the same problem, you’re likely to get 20 completely different answers on how to solve that problem.  After I gave him a questioning look, he went on to explain that each of those answers would likely be correct but vary according to each individual’s opinion, experience, methods, and tools at his disposal. 
 
As I contemplate the question of the future of the surveying profession, the aforementioned anecdote comes to mind, once again.  I feel that opinion will vary, depending upon who’s being asked the question.  Personally, I see a very bright future ahead in the field of surveying, a future filled with never-ending technological advances and opportunities to last a lifetime.
 
Like many professions, surveying has benefitted tremendously from the technological advancements realized over the past couple of decades.  Modern field equipment and CADD software have made it possible to complete projects in a fraction of the time and manpower it once took.  The implementation of lidar technology has improved GIS detail and accuracy, in ways that are simply amazing to individuals outside of the surveying/engineering community.  With all of this technology in surveying also comes the need for highly skilled and well-trained individuals to use this technology effectively.  In terms of technology, the future of the surveying profession is NOW.
 
Our nation’s economy, and just about every employment sector imaginable, has been enduring a serious setback since the financial meltdown of 2008.  Surveying was no exception, particularly those firms closely associated with the housing and commercial development industries.  While the housing and development industries are slowly beginning to rebound, it will still be some time before growth in those areas fully returns.  However, the need for surveyors is strong in the rebuilding of our nation’s infrastructure, and also within the energy-producing corporations as America continues to look within itself to reduce its dependence on foreign fuel. Today’s surveyor must be diverse, seeking out multiple sources of business in order to stay active in our ever-evolving society.
 
Despite technology’s ability to illustrate vast amounts of territory to relatively great detail, there will always be a need for surveyors to accurately and precisely locate boundaries on the ground.  As long as properties continue to change ownership, there will be the need for a surveyor to locate the boundary and “show what is there.” As for myself, I will to continue to develop my surveying skills and broaden my knowledge base in order to be prepared to respond to any opportunities I encounter in my surveying career.

Chris Kauffman is a student in the Surveying Technology program at Brunswick Community College in Bolivia, North Carolina, and has recently joined a surveying firm in Wilmington.

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