Requirements for Professional Land Surveyors in Australia

Land Surveyors are often the unnoticed yet vital professionals who underpin a range of projects that ensure the continued development of urban and rural Australia. The surveyor is the expert who, using a range of sophisticated equipment and software, skill, and knowledge, determines the size and measurements of land and bodies of water.

This means that he or she is involved in the planning and design of a multitude of projects including building, land development, construction, and monitoring and measuring for environmental purposes. This impacts both existing and new structures and infrastructures. The starting point for buildings, recreation facilities, bridges, roads and agricultural lands and businesses is the information supplied by a land surveyor.

The professionals who rely on the data, calculations and advice from land surveyors include town planners, developers, architects, engineers and geologists. With the measurements and indication of project feasibility provided by a surveyor, the architects, engineers, etc can produce structures that are suitable in the landscape.

Individuals with a flair for mathematics, strong analytical skills, an enjoyment of IT, technology and geography and being outdoors, have the makings of a surveyor. Those who are meticulous and have a strong eye for detail also do better in this field. 

What does a Land Surveyor do?

A Land Surveyor spends time both out on-site and in their office. On the site of proposed projects these professionals use a range of specialised tools and equipment to record data about the shape and size of land and marine resources, environmental and social factors, existing land boundaries – both public and private – and the terrain involved. 

From these highly accurate measurements and their evaluation of all the data, they draw up subdivision plans; generate property titles; refer to all the relevant legislation and codes; provide advice and recommendations to planners, developers, architects and engineers; and they produce maps, plans, charts and reports. 

The necessary training or education for Land Surveying

There are two primary routes into this rewarding career. The first is through vocational training and the second is with a university degree.

Vocational training allows the individual to get on-the-job training to become either a survey technician or survey assistant. The most commonly used option is to contact surveying firms to ask if they have any available placements. Some of these companies, though, require trainees to undergo some sort of induction course either online or through a technical and further education (TAFE) course before their surveying training can even begin. 

However, the only way to become a fully qualified land surveyor is by obtaining a degree. To be accepted for this course of study you will require a Senior Secondary Certificate and good results in English, mathematics and physics. Different universities have different admission requirements and varying levels of flexibility so one needs to do some research.

These degrees, both undergraduate and postgraduate studies, involve learning about surveying, geospatial and spatial science, and geographical information systems. Once graduated, newly qualified surveyors can progress further in their studies and become registered or licensed. 

How does registration work?

In some states and territories graduates can register and be licensed by the Surveyor’s Board. In other instances, the requirements are more stringent and may involve an interview, an exam, a technical project or even further study before a license or registration is granted.

Once registration has been achieved, however, surveyors will have their registration recognised in states and territories in both Australia and New Zealand thanks to a mutual recognition agreement. All that is needed is an application and the payment of a fee. 

Employment opportunities for Land Surveyors

Thanks to the breadth of projects and professions surveyors are involved with, the range of potential employers is extensive. Surveyors are employed in both the public and private sectors and companies include – but are not limited to – surveying, construction, engineering and mining companies. 

Land surveyors as opposed to more general surveyors have greater employment opportunities, and registered surveyors may find positions at surveying firms in various capacities including as partners. Once qualified, surveyors can opt to specialise or study further both of which extend and improve their work opportunities. 

Why become a Land Surveyor?

Apart from the range of well-payed employment and development opportunities open to graduates and qualified, experienced surveyors, this job offers other benefits too.

No two projects are the same (usually), surveyors work both outdoors and indoors and come into contact with a range of professionals and professions. 

The technology and software they use is sophisticated and often cutting-edge, the work involved on each project is very varied, and there are a host of possibilities in terms of professional development and specialisation.

Finally, work is available in a host of different industries in both the public and private sectors, in academia, science laboratories or one can opt to be self-employed.