Land or engineering surveyors measure and chart the precise shape of natural and artificial features on a site’s surface. The data forms the basis of plans used for civil engineering and construction projects, such as new transport infrastructure - roads, tunnels and bridges, land redevelopment, mining, quarrying and waste management operations, and installation of power, energy and water supply networks.
There are several aspects to the work:
Feasibility studies – exploratory surveys are carried out on a potential site to assess the economic viability of a proposed project. Environmental impact assessments are also carried out.
Geospatial measurement - using a variety of equipment and techniques, precise models of the site are constructed. Methods include:
Geomatics (data collection and manipulation) - surveyors collate the data using geographic information systems (GIS) for analysis and interpretation of site characteristics. Data can be retrieved and presented in various formats for engineers, planners and architects to produce construction designs and setting out plans. The data is also used to draft 2-D and 3-D charts and maps of an area with computer-aided design software and cartographic techniques.
Geomechanics – the survey information is also used by surveyors as a series of reference points for subsequent site monitoring of land movement and deformation caused by the construction project or by natural processes.
Land surveyors may specialise in mapping underwater features, known as hydrographic surveying. This can be inshore work, surveying natural waterways and canals for environmental projects, dredging operations or navigational charts; or offshore work linked to site surveys for oil and gas platforms, undersea mining or location and salvage of sunken hazards.
Other duties include managing the surveying team and attending meetings with contractors and clients.
Land surveyors work 35 to 40 hours a week. Early starts, late finishes and weekend work may be required, depending on deadlines. The job combines office and site work, and it is often necessary to spend periods of time away from home.
Sites are subject to all weather conditions and protective clothing is normally required. A driving licence will usually be necessary.
To be a land surveyor you should:
For hydrographic work, some knowledge of navigation and experience of handling small marine craft may be required.
Employment opportunities for land surveyors can be found throughout the UK and overseas. Employers include central and local government departments, construction, engineering and property development companies, specialist surveying firms, banks, building societies, insurance companies and Ordnance Survey of Great Britain.
Promotion usually depends on internal company structures. Career progression can include overall project management, specialisation in a particular aspect of land surveying or working as a self-employed consultant, independently or in partnership with other specialists in professional practice.
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