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Decline in number of surveyors
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9/8/2014 at 4:25:01 PM GMT
Posts: 24
Decline in number of surveyors

          Does anyone know why the number of practicing and licensed surveyors seems to be decreasing?  I can understand why there may have been a decrease during the recession of 2008-2012, but it seems regardless of the state of the economy the long term trend has been steadily declining numbers.  And this in spite of the fact that Georgia has and is undergoing rapidly increasing population which one would expect would increase the demand for surveying services.  Has technology made it possible for fewer to do more work?  Are others doing a lot of the work that was formerly done by surveyors?  Am I just imagining that the number of surveyors is decreasing?

          I don't know how things are holding up in the surveying/engineering program on the Southern Poly campus of Kennesaw State University, but there has been a steady and drastic decline in the number of students enrolled in the surveying program at Middle Georgia State College, to the point there's a good chance the program will be done away with.

Farris Cadle

9/16/2014 at 1:31:59 PM GMT
Posts: 16
I find it interesting that no one has responded to your post. It is evident that our profession does not have a consensus about our role going forward. Have we reached the point where we no longer want to even have the conversation? I would prefer a heated discussion to complacency. Yes our numbers have decreased as the population of Georgia has increased. Several reasons can be referenced. Technology and more larger survey operations to just name a few. I am not sure how much this affects our decreasing numbers, but surveyors seem to be having an identity crisis. In GIS, we are not in agreement about our role. However, the GIS industry seem to be getting along without us. Technology has greatly reduced our role in construction staking. Technology has reduced the cost effectiveness of conventional topographical surveying. As Jeff Luca put it, there is an app for that. So is boundary the only area where our profession is distinguished? We can thank the deed stakers for even turning this into a commodity. In general, the plats look better; however, the logic behind them is sometimes flawed.

I wish that I had the answer. Until we come to some working agreement among ourselves as to our role going forward, we will continue to decline in numbers.

12/20/2014 at 12:10:51 AM GMT
Posts: 1
The easy answer. After the college requirements are met, it is at least 10 years before a young person can go practice on their on. You tell an 18 yr old he will be 31 when he starts to make the big money. He will choose another route. We need to look at our requirements. Maybe a 4 year degree and 4 year apprentice would suffice. We do have 15 hours pdh required to keep practicing, so the education continues.........

1/26/2015 at 1:31:28 PM GMT
Posts: 10
Is the decline just in Georgia or is it a national trend?

4/18/2015 at 8:24:00 PM GMT
Posts: 9

I agree with McDougald. I know personally it has been a long road to getting my license. A little of that time was because of my decision making, but I figure the experience and school route would be better for me rather than a 4 year degree. By the time students spend the 4 + years getting a surveying degree they have basically had enough classes to become a civil engineer so I think some are choosing the civil engineering route because of how much more money they can make in a shorter period plus there may not be as much physical outside work to do (I do not mean this as an insult). Is another thing the public perception of surveyors in general in Georgia keeping surveyors wages down which in tern effects the desire for people to survey? It seems that when some clients call and ask for a survey they do not ask what it will take to do it or how we will do it they say this is how you will do it and how much for! I am not going to tell my dentist how to pull my tooth or a doctor he needs to give me such and such medicine. Anyways I guess what I am trying t o get at is there are surveyors out there doing cheap work that barely passes the law standards and do just enough to get by so therefore that hurts us all because we are professionals and we should be charging for our professional services. If they average wage of party chief, instrument man, survey department manger, RLS, exc... keeps going down or at least not going up because we can not charge for our work then young people and people who got into the profession in the beginning are likely to not survey in the long run. Construction staking used to be a good revenue generator for the surveyor (as well as liability problem lol) however with GPS and Surface Files more and more contractors take on this liability which leaves us hanging in some aspects. There are not many law restrictions on what should be done by a surveyor which does affect us as a whole. I do see some states like NC doing a little to help resolved some of these regulation of what needs to be done by a surveyor. I also know that changing our current laws may not be the solution either so don't shoot me please this is just my opinion and you know how those are.

Last edited Saturday, April 18, 2015
6/1/2015 at 1:53:20 PM GMT
Posts: 3
The simple answer is... Its tough making a living as a surveyor.

The work is labor intensive, the schooling and training is difficult, its hard to drum up work, relatively low salary, etc.

6/16/2015 at 12:07:59 PM GMT
Posts: 7
My comments are similar as to the above comments.... for me? I was licensed in 2007, about the time everything was collapsing. No way to make it work for me. Every one around me is doing work for a fraction of the cost it is truly worth so I have quit trying to compete and joined the GIS people for my "real job". No one in my area is willing to pay a decent price for land surveying services. I have friends with 4 year Surveying degrees, they have obtained LSIT and also have friends that have many years as an RLS..... these people have left the profession and have not returned because of poor money.

6/29/2015 at 3:13:39 PM GMT
Posts: 2
I'm a free market guy; so I believe supply and demand will alleviate many of the salary and job availability issues listed previously. It's already starting to happen, and employers like myself are having a hard time finding qualified employees as the economy gains momentum.

That said, there is no doubt the surveying profession is at a crossroads and among other things, needs to do a much better job attracting young people and college graduates. Neither of my own sons has any interest in surveying as a career. One is working on his four year degree in computer science, the other is a business major and wants to obtain an MBA.

The problem starts early. Perhaps even in elementary school. Math, science, engineering, surveying,.....none of these endeavors are viewed as glamorous, and surveying in particular comes up short when competing against most engineering disciplines. I've done a lot of presentations at High School career days, but that's a drop in the bucket compared to the outreach efforts needed.

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