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Land Surveyor Experience

Once you’ve completed the required education in your state – if any – now comes the time to get to work! This experience phase of gaining your surveyor’s license usually comes after the fs exam, but not always.
Experience is so important in our profession! Would you trust a brain surgeon to operate on your head when the doctor has only read about surgery in a book? Me neither.


Experience allows the surveyor to take the awesome knowledge learned in-school and translate it into making decisions in-the-field. This field experiece, which once was the only prerequisite to becoming a licensed surveyor, is still a very big part of licensing today.
So how do you get this field experience? By finding a job. But not just any survey work will do!


State licensing boards only allow survey interns to count their time in ‘responsible charge’ towards the experience requirements before being able to sit for their pls exam. The term responsible charge varies by state but the purpose is to put the surveyor intern in the shoes of a professional surveyor while being supervised by a license holder.

That means that the surveyor intern should be acting as party chief of a field crew, crunching survey computations, devising labor and equipment schedules, making boundary determinations, and all the other stuff that a licensee does. But a pls is always watching the si closely to prevent harm to the client and the public.


Sorry, rod man and drafter, these roles don’t usually count towards responsible charge because these tasks are deemed “menial” by many boards. Some states don’t define what jobs, tasks, and projects are allowable for responsible charge time. But other states, like Florida, are very specific.
As an extreme example, texas categorizes responsible charge time, required to sit for the tx rpls exam, into five categories: research, legal principles, computations, preparing final surveys, and field experience. The surveyor intern must list the 4000 hours required time into each of these categories. Whew! That’s a lot of work!


No matter what state you live in, you will be required to show (1) your employer, (2) dates of employment, (3) the name and license # of your supervisor, (4) description of work performed, and (5) total hours in responsible charge. Let me tell you from experience, keeping track of these hours as you work is much easier than trying to remember jobs from four years ago! An excel spreadsheet is a huge help.
The last lesson of the day is to read your board rules! Not when you are applying for your pls, but when you start your time in responsible charge. Know the rules and meet them. You’ll be licensed in no time!


Are you ready to become a professional land surveyor? Call today for a free consultation! 888-211-2198

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