The United States maintains high Land Surveying professional standards in order to protect the public's welfare. As such, all land surveyors are required by law to be licensed in order to practice.
The process of securing your license varies from state to state. If you're in college pursuing an education that focuses on land surveying, it's a safe bet that your institution is aware of your jurisdiction's particular requirements, and will bear them in mind while preparing you to enter the field. In any case, it's important that you understand your state's requirements; you can always contact the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) to learn more about the procedures specific to your jurisdiction. Regardless of jurisdiction, the process of obtaining your license is similar throughout the United States.
Education requirements for licensure range from a high-school diploma to a degree from an Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) accredited educational institution.
Fundamentals of Surveying Exam
Successfully completing the Fundamentals of Surveying (FS) exam is the first step in acquiring your license, and is offered annually in the months of April and October. The FS exam is broken down into 170 questions which range from general subject material such as algebra, trigonometry, higher math, basic sciences, written communication skills and the like to more field specific topics such as boundary law, field data acquisition, and plane survey calculation. Many students choose to take the exam towards the end of their education, often as close to graduation as possible in order to assure the material is still fresh in their mind. Talk to your educators to find out what the best time to take the exam is in the context of your curricula. It's also important to check with your examining agency to make sure you're familiar with their rules; some examiners, for instance, prohibit the possession of text message or text saving devices during examination.
Hands on experience
After completing the FS exam, you will need to gain some work experience in the field before moving on to the final exam. Again, many jurisdictions require specific work experience in order to fulfill this portion of the process. These requirements often include working directly with licensed individuals, and acheiving consistent increases in your professional responsibilities. Contact your local licensing board to gain a better understanding of their explicit conditions so that you can develop a strategy for fulfilling them as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Principles and Practice of Surveying Exam
The final portion of the licensing process is the successful completion of the Principles and Practice of Surveying (PS) exam. Like the FS exam, the PS exam is available annually in the months of April and October; unlike the FS exam, the PS exam is divided into 170 questions and requires as prerequisites the successful completion of the FS exam and the acquisition of appropriate work experience. The PS exam is broken down into several sections including standards and specification, legal principle, professional survey practices, field specific knowledge, business practices, and types of surveys.
Once the PS exam has been successfully completed, you're eligible to receive your license from your local licensing board. Remember licensure is legally required in order to practice land surveying professionally; the trick is to know your jurisdiction's particular requirements and to develop a strategy for fulfilling them quickly and effectively to help jump start your career.
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