The Shortage of Incoming Surveyors

A new study has been released which shows high job satisfaction rates among those working in the surveying field. As I was reading the article I noticed that the majority of the respondents were seasoned surveyors who had over 30 years of experience and were older than 46 years old. Before I finished reading, I was curious as to why there weren’t more young, vibrant, new-to-the-industry surveyors to participate in the survey.

Numerous sources will tell you there is a tremendous shortage of incoming surveyors. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that of the 65,000 people working under the titles of surveyors, cartographers and photogrammetrists, just 9,000 are 34 years or younger.

There are many contributing factors to help explain this less-than-healthy trend. One of those reasons is the advancement of technology. Where there used to be three to four surveyors working in the field, there is now only one. This restricts opportunities for field experience that young professionals once had. Another contributing influence is education expectations. Many state boards require a four year degree before beginning work in the surveying field. This increased requirement might hinder those from pursuing a surveying path. Related to that, there is also a lack of knowledge in the public eye of what a surveyor’s job responsibilities are. It can be difficult to encourage young people to join the profession when they don’t know anything about it.

This begs the question, what is currently being done to protect and encourage young surveyors? The International Federation of Surveyors (FIG) established the Young Surveyors Network in 2006 in an effort to bring the youngest of surveyors together and foster increased support for the group. The National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS) recently launched its own Young Surveyors Network, based on the FIG model, which offers support to surveyors aged 35 years and under, students of surveying, or those surveyors within 10 years of graduating from a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

These groups are a great way to initiate change, but I believe that more needs to be done to further encourage our younger generations into learning more about this field of work. The high job satisfaction rates reassure me that positive change can be possible during this downward trend.