Every state in the union, except five, require land surveyors to have some college education before becoming a professional land surveyor. Or even a surveyor intern in some cases! But the rules vary widely depending on which state you would like to become licensed in. So, let’s talk about some of those educational requirements.
What qualifies as “education” in the eyes of a state board? Well, not much. Only college-level, post-secondary courses count towards the education component of the si and ps licenses. That means no high school classes, no continuing education courses, and no correspondence courses.
To further narrow things down, each board defines which college courses “count’ towards licensure. Some states require that the program be approved by the surveying board, some states require the program to be approved by a regional accreditation board, and a majority of states require that the program be approved by abet. If you are going to take surveying courses outside your home state, the program being abet approved is a huge benefit. That way, you don’t have to go to the board after you’ve taken the courses and “prove” your program qualifies.
So how many college credits are required and what classes can be counted towards your pls license?
First of all, the state board decides what kind of classes count towards the pls education requirement. Many states only allow land surveying courses to be counted. Other states will count any geospatial courses like gis, lis, and photogrammetry. Some states like texas will count any math, science, forestry, or law courses. So the types of courses allowable vary widely based on state board rules.
The next big question is how many college courses are required. Alabama only requires 17 hours of college credits – no as or bs degree required. Texas requires an associates in any subject with 32 hours of college credits in math, science, forestry, or surveying. While new Mexico requires a land surveyor/geomatics bachelor’s degree. Again, rules vary widely based on state board rules so read those statutes!
College courses are not just useful for meeting board requirements. If you attend a college that focuses on the core land surveying subjects like they’re supposed to, then passing your fundamentals and principles exams should be easy. But we’ve seen way too many students that graduate from a well-known university who never learned to balance a level loop or close a traverse. Don’t fall into the “shiny ball” syndrome of lidar and drones while neglecting basic survey subjects.
Finally, be sure that the college you choose meets your individual needs. Moving across the country while you’re still employed, paying thousands of dollars in fees for the health clinic, sports stadium, and new computers, or having to attend daytime classes that cut-in to your fieldwork may not be a good idea.
Interested in learning more about your state’s requirements? Visit our website to see all the rules. But always verify with your jurisdiction’s state board website before taking any courses.