Our future?Posted by andy-bruner on May 8, 2019 at 1:00 pm
I attended graduation ceremonies for a nephew last night. He got his MBA from our local university. A few years ago our Chancellors decided that our local engineering and surveying school didn’t deserve to exist any more and it was absorbed by the liberal arts school. The graduation ceremonies were for (at least) a couple of thousand graduates (there were over 500 that received graduate degrees). Of that number there was ONE who graduated with a BS degree in surveying. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. That young man SHOULD be able to demand a good salary because of the good old law of supply and demand. But I’m also afraid that with the lack of “college education” that surveyors are going to be destined to being a “trade” instead of a profession. Don’t get me wrong I know some really good surveyors who are not college graduates, I’m just speaking of public perception.
- 13 Replies
- MemberMay 8, 2019 at 1:18 pm
I attended SWMBO’s graduation a few years ago. There were almost no STEM graduates in the arts and sciences graduation I attended. There was a separate graduation for the schools of engineering and law, but much of this graduation was for degrees that didn’t exist when I was in college. I have little idea what those graduates will do with their degrees.
- MemberMay 8, 2019 at 10:27 pm
Well, we get the profession (or trade) we deserve…
Land surveyors are literally the only professionals I know who will (usually loudly) denounce formal education. I don’t think I have ever heard a PE scoff at an EIT for going to college. Or claim that they will learn hydraulic modeling equations by hand digging a drainage ditch in the field.
I spent eight years surveying, from entry level field to high level office tech, before going back to school and getting my B.S. on the way to licensure. I learned a lot on my own, but once you hit the higher levels of practice there are fundamental concepts which require several semesters worth of actual study and practice to grasp. Geodesy, boundary law, statistics, remote sensing, adjustments, etc. are not things “picked up” by looking over someone’s shoulder.
In addition to laying a solid foundation of basic skills and high-level conceptual understanding, institutions of higher learning tend to require that their graduates know *how* to learn things, and how to ask the right questions in order to learn. Not to mention communication skills, a rarity these days. That’s why we “practice” our profession, not turn out a product.
Surveyors tend to have a general disdain for higher education…the minimum body of knowledge required for other professions before they even get near an exam room. That has always baffled me. We are not special.
More troubling is the refusal to acknowledge the benefit to the public of having a core standard of verified, accredited education for all licensed professionals.“…people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.” -Neil Postman
- MemberMay 8, 2019 at 11:51 pm
I have never met a single surveyor who had a disdain for higher education.
I have however met a boatload who are of the opinion that unless and until the pay rises a tremendous amount that the costbenefit for a 4 year degree in surveying is not there as opposed to other far less physically demanding professions.
Andy, that person should be able to command a decent salary, emphasis is on should but you know how that goes. If he is smart he will stay far away from your run of the mill stuff and specialize in remote sensing and other hi-tech stuff and for that he will likely have to leave the area.
- MemberMay 9, 2019 at 2:34 am
I recently took the RPLS test in Austin this past month. There were well over 40 people, men and women of all ages taking the test, I really felt surprised because when I took the PS back in 2015, there were about 15 people taking it, while the rest were engineers for their PE. My point is, we will always have high and low graduates/test takers from time to time. We are so focused on our jobs that we think it’s just us but reality is there are many people out there coming in and graduating all the time and we just don’t notice it.
- MemberMay 9, 2019 at 3:15 am
I track numbers of licensees and students in our state. Our trend is a net loss of 8 resident surveyors per year for nearly 15 years. While the national number of PLS tickets is more stable (but still in decline), the number of people holding more licenses is on the rise. That exact number is unavailable but clearly significant.
As for pay, the numbers are coming along in much of the northwest. I’ve passed on 6 figures several times in the last year, but only because I love the spot I am in. If you build a knowledge base and credentials, then support that with a good work ethic you can easily match the PE crowd. If not you should probably move.
- MemberMay 9, 2019 at 4:02 am
Everything you say is true. And the reason that surveyors make less (as Just A Surveyor mentions) is because we have too many people who aren’t degreed and act like laborers on a construction site.
But with that being said a degree in surveying isn’t necessary, a BS in a physical science will suffice. I had a guy working for me who had a degree in geology and he was a quick study. A pleasure to work with.
- MemberMay 9, 2019 at 12:19 pm
Our future is problematic. When you review bids with a contractor, the low bid winner will look to see how much he/she left on the table. I have had surveyors boast to me about undercutting my fee and taking a client. This is without care or concern about how much was left on the table. How can we pay top dollar when we don’t charge appropriately?
I always find it discouraging that attorneys make more than surveyors. The attorney will put together the deed, neglect the record easements and encumbrances and place the catch all – including any and all easements and encumbrances. We prepare a plan and we have to show every easement and encumbrance. Yet we do this for a fraction of the fees charged by the attorney.
- MemberMay 9, 2019 at 1:02 pm
Surveyors with degrees do command good salaries, as long as they don’t choose to work for the government or for a rural clientele that cant afford the true value of their service.
Not that there is anything wrong with with those choices. They just have to be made with knowledge that it will be at the cost of higher salary.
There is a large population that needs the services of surveyors that cant afford much. These people very seldom need the services of other proffesionals, except doctors. This makes it hard to compare salaries on a national level, but when working in similar environments surveyors command equivalent (often even higher) salaries than the engineers they work along side with.
- MemberMay 9, 2019 at 2:54 pm
Like every profession, specialization and location are more a factor in compensation than the specific profession itself.
Most surveyors I’ve met over my career don’t want to: 1)work in urban environments; 2)work on transportation projects; 3)work for huge engineering firms like AECOM, WSP, etc., either as an employee or subcontractor and (most importantly); 4) don’t want to do the business development work required (going to ACEC lunches every month/ ASHE dinners every month, going to engineering rather than surveying conferences) to get these types of projects as a subcontractor.
But if you’re willing to do those things, you’re able to demand compensation in your area that is higher than the average attorney salary.
- MemberMay 9, 2019 at 3:39 pm
I doubt you will find an attorney providing bids. Professionals should not be providing bids.
- MemberMay 9, 2019 at 4:36 pm
- MemberMay 9, 2019 at 4:48 pm
Attorneys do provide cost estimates. Then blow through them. Contractors always want bids – that is how they work. I provide a cost estimate with the clear statement that charges will be T&M. Send it in as a bid. It’s a game people play.
- MemberMay 9, 2019 at 7:34 pm
When I sat for the Texas RPLS exam in 1987 there were 400± people sitting for RPLS and 20± sitting for the LSLS.
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