Top 10 Surveyor Certifications

This article provides an overview of the top surveyor certifications available and their respective benefits.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 18 min read

Certifications are important for surveyors in the job market because they demonstrate a level of knowledge and expertise in the field. They also show that a surveyor is committed to their profession and has taken the necessary steps to gain recognition as a qualified professional. Certifications provide employers with an assurance that a surveyor has the necessary skills, experience, and qualifications needed to complete tasks in an accurate and timely manner. Furthermore, certifications can help increase job security and open up more career opportunities by providing an edge over other candidates who do not have such qualifications. Finally, certifications can be used as evidence of commitment to continuing education and staying up-to-date on industry trends.

This article reviews some of the top certifications for Surveyors and explains how they can help to enhance a surveyor's career.

What are Surveyor Certifications?

Surveyor certification is a formal process that ensures surveyors have met certain educational and professional standards. This process typically involves passing written examinations, demonstrating experience in the field, and completing continuing education courses in order to remain up-to-date with industry trends.

The purpose of surveyor certification is to ensure that surveyors are knowledgeable and qualified to provide accurate land surveys in accordance with local, state, and federal regulations. This certification enables employers to trust that their surveyors are knowledgeable about relevant laws and best practices for surveying projects. It also helps protect the public by ensuring that surveys are conducted safely, accurately, and according to applicable procedures.

Surveyor certification can be especially helpful when it comes to complex or large-scale surveying projects such as those required for construction or development projects. With certified surveyors on staff, employers can rest assured that their project will be completed according to all relevant regulations while providing an accurate representation of the land being surveyed. In addition, having certified surveyors on staff can help businesses demonstrate their commitment to quality assurance and safety standards when bidding for contracts or working with clients.

Pro Tip: Make sure you are aware of the requirements for your specific state when it comes to surveyor certification. Each state has its own set of rules and regulations that must be followed in order to become certified as a surveyor.

Related: What does a Surveyor do?

Top 10 Surveyor Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Surveyors today.

1. Professional Land Surveyor (PLS)

A Professional Land Surveyor (PLS) is a licensed professional who specializes in the measurement, analysis, and mapping of land boundaries. They are responsible for determining property lines and other boundary markers, as well as providing accurate representations of the land to be used in legal documents such as deeds, titles, and mortgages.

In order to become a PLS, an individual must first obtain a degree in surveying or related field from an accredited college or university. After completing their education, they must then pass the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) Fundamentals of Surveying Exam. The exam covers topics such as mathematics, engineering principles, mapping techniques, and land surveying laws.

Once the exam is passed, applicants must complete a minimum of four years of supervised work experience under the direct supervision of another PLS in order to qualify for licensure. During this time period they may also need to take additional exams depending on their state requirements.

The cost of becoming a PLS can vary greatly depending on the state you are applying for licensure in and your educational background. Generally speaking though it can cost anywhere from $500-$2,000 dollars to apply for licensure depending on your state’s fees and requirements.

Overall it can take anywhere from two to five years to become fully licensed as a Professional Land Surveyor (PLS).

2. Certified Survey Technician (CST)

Certified Survey Technician (CST) is a professional certification program designed to recognize individuals who demonstrate knowledge and proficiency in surveying technology. The CST program is offered by the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS) and administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES).

The CST program consists of three levels: Level I, Level II, and Level III. To become a Certified Survey Technician, applicants must pass all three exams within a five-year period. Each level has its own exam, which covers topics such as boundary law, land surveying principles, mapping techniques, geodetic surveying, aerial photogrammetry, global positioning systems (GPS), geographic information systems (GIS), and other related topics.

It typically takes about two years to complete the entire CST program. However, this can vary depending on the individual’s experience and knowledge of the subject matter. Applicants should plan to spend time studying for each exam in order to ensure success on all three tests.

To get certified as a CST, applicants must first register with NCEES and pay an application fee. After registering with NCEES, applicants can then take the exams at their local Pearson VUE testing center or online through NCEES’s ExamFX platform. The cost of taking each exam varies but generally ranges from $100-$200 per exam.

3. Geographic Information Systems Professional (GISP)

Geographic Information Systems Professional (GISP) is a certification program that recognizes the expertise of professionals in the field of Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The GISP certification is awarded by the GIS Certification Institute (GISCI), an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and recognizing excellence in GIS.

The GISP certification requires applicants to demonstrate their knowledge and experience with GIS technology, as well as their commitment to ethical practices and standards. To become certified, applicants must meet certain criteria including: a minimum of four years of professional experience in the field of GIS; completion of at least 48 hours of approved continuing education credits; and passing an online examination.

The process for becoming a GISP typically takes between six months and one year. Applicants must first submit an application to the GISCI, which includes proof of professional experience, continuing education credits, and payment for the application fee. Once accepted into the program, applicants must take an online examination within six months. After passing the exam, applicants will receive their official certificate from the GISCI.

The cost for becoming a GISP varies depending on where you live; however, it typically ranges from $300-$500 USD. This includes the application fee, exam fee, and any additional fees associated with submitting proof of experience or continuing education credits.

4. Remote Sensing Professional (RSP)

Remote Sensing Professional (RSP) is a professional certification program offered by the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS). It is designed to recognize individuals who have achieved a high level of knowledge, skills, and experience in the field of remote sensing. The RSP certification is intended to demonstrate an individual's commitment to their profession, as well as their ability to apply remote sensing technology effectively.

To become certified as an RSP, an individual must complete a series of exams that cover topics such as remote sensing principles, data acquisition and analysis, digital image processing, geographic information systems (GIS), and application development. In addition to passing the exams, applicants must also submit a portfolio demonstrating their experience in the field.

The process of becoming certified typically takes between six months and one year from start to finish. During this time, applicants must complete all required exams and submit their portfolio for review by ASPRS. Once approved, they will receive their official RSP certification.

The cost of becoming certified as an RSP depends on the number of exams taken and whether or not the applicant is already a member of ASPRS. Generally speaking, it can range anywhere from $400-$1000 USD depending on these factors.

5. Construction Layout Professional (CLP)

Construction Layout Professional (CLP) is a certification program designed to help construction professionals demonstrate their knowledge and proficiency in the field of layout. The CLP certification is offered by the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI), and it is designed to recognize individuals who have demonstrated a high level of expertise in the area of construction layout.

To get certified, applicants must take an online exam that covers topics such as surveying, layout principles, CAD systems, and other related topics. The exam consists of multiple-choice questions and takes approximately two hours to complete. Applicants must also submit proof of experience in the field of construction layout or a portfolio demonstrating their work in this area.

The cost for the CLP certification is $395 USD for non-members and $295 USD for members of CSI. The fee includes the exam fee, access to study materials, and one year's membership to CSI. Once certified, CLPs are required to maintain their certification through continuing education credits every three years.

6. Certified Hydrographic Surveyor (CHS)

A Certified Hydrographic Surveyor (CHS) is a professional designation that recognizes the expertise and experience of hydrographers in the field of hydrography. Hydrographers are specialists who use scientific methods to measure, map and chart water bodies such as lakes, rivers, oceans, estuaries and coasts. The CHS designation is awarded by the International Federation of Surveyors (FIG) to individuals who have demonstrated a high level of competence in the practice of hydrography.

In order to become a Certified Hydrographic Surveyor, applicants must meet certain criteria set forth by FIG. These include demonstrating a minimum of five years’ experience in the field of hydrography; having an academic degree or equivalent qualification in a related field; passing an examination administered by FIG; and completing continuing education requirements every two years.

The process for becoming a Certified Hydrographic Surveyor typically takes between six months and one year. Applicants should first contact their local FIG member organization to obtain information on how to apply for certification. They will then need to submit an application form along with supporting documents such as proof of experience and qualifications, as well as references from two people familiar with their work. Once all documents have been submitted, applicants will be required to sit for an examination administered by FIG.

The cost for becoming a Certified Hydrographic Surveyor varies depending on the country or region where you are applying for certification. Generally speaking, it can range from several hundred dollars up to several thousand dollars for fees associated with taking the exam and other administrative costs.

7. Certified Photogrammetrist (CP)

A Certified Photogrammetrist (CP) is a professional who has been certified by the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) to demonstrate proficiency in the science of photogrammetry. Photogrammetry is the science of making measurements from photographs, typically used to create maps or 3D models.

To become a CP, one must pass an examination administered by ASPRS. The exam consists of two parts: a written exam and a practical exam. The written exam covers topics such as aerial photography, remote sensing, digital image processing, and photogrammetric mapping principles. The practical exam tests one’s ability to interpret aerial photographs and produce accurate maps and 3D models.

The cost of taking the CP Exam varies depending on where it is taken and how long it takes to complete it. Generally speaking, the cost can range from $500-$1,000 USD for both parts of the exam. It typically takes about 6-12 months to complete all requirements for certification.

In order to be eligible for the CP Exam, applicants must have at least three years of professional experience in photogrammetry or related fields such as cartography or GIS (Geographic Information Systems). Additionally, applicants must have completed at least 30 semester hours (or equivalent) of college-level coursework in photogrammetry or related fields with a grade point average of at least 2.5 on a 4-point scale.

8. Global Positioning System Professional (GPSP)

Global Positioning System Professional (GPSP) is a professional certification program for individuals who wish to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in the use of GPS technology. The program is offered by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), which is part of the U.S. Department of Defense.

The GPSP program consists of three levels: Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced. Each level requires successful completion of a written exam and practical application assessment. The exams are designed to measure an individual’s understanding of GPS technology, its applications, and its implications on national security.

The Basic level requires passing a written exam that covers basic concepts such as satellite orbits, antenna types, signal characteristics, navigation principles, and data formats. The Intermediate level requires passing a written exam that covers intermediate concepts such as map projections, coordinate systems, datums, error analysis methods, and positioning techniques. The Advanced level requires passing a written exam that covers advanced topics such as satellite navigation systems design and analysis; navigation system performance; navigation system integration; positioning accuracy assessment; navigation system software development; and navigation system testing.

It typically takes about four months to complete all three levels of the GPSP program if studying full-time or six months if studying part-time. To get started with the program you must first register with NGA by completing an online application form available on their website. Once you have completed your registration you will receive an email with instructions on how to access the study materials for each level of the program.

The cost for taking all three levels of the GPSP program is $2,000 USD plus applicable taxes and fees for each level taken separately or $5,000 USD plus applicable taxes and fees for all three levels taken together at once.

9. Land Information Manager (LIM)

Land Information Manager (LIM) is a software solution that helps land managers to manage their land assets. It is designed to help them keep track of land ownership, rights and obligations, as well as other information related to the management of their land. LIM provides a comprehensive suite of tools for managing all aspects of land management, from tracking title deeds and leases to managing property taxes and fees.

It typically takes about two weeks to get up and running with LIM, depending on the complexity of the project. The first step is to install the software on your computer or server. Once installed, you will need to configure it according to your specific needs. This includes setting up user profiles, defining access levels, creating reports and more.

The cost of Land Information Manager depends on the size and complexity of your project. Generally speaking, you can expect to pay anywhere between $2,000-$10,000 for a basic installation and setup fee. Additional costs may include training and customization services if needed.

10. Registered Land Surveyor in Training (RLST)

A Registered Land Surveyor in Training (RLST) is a professional designation given to individuals who have completed the necessary educational and practical requirements to become a registered land surveyor. This designation allows them to work under the supervision of a licensed land surveyor and gain experience in the field.

To become an RLST, you must first complete an accredited land surveying program from an institution recognized by your state’s licensing board. After completing the educational requirements, you must then pass the Fundamentals of Surveying exam administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). Once these steps are completed, you can apply for your RLST license with your state’s licensing board.

The amount of time it takes to become an RLST varies depending on how quickly you complete your education and pass the NCEES exam. Generally, it takes at least two years to complete all of the necessary steps.

The cost of becoming an RLST also varies depending on individual circumstances. The cost of tuition for a land surveying program can range from several thousand dollars up to tens of thousands, depending on where you attend school and what type of program you choose. In addition, there are fees associated with taking the NCEES exam as well as any applicable application fees charged by your state’s licensing board.

Do You Really Need a Surveyor Certificate?

In short, yes. A surveyor certificate is an important document that can be used to prove ownership of a property or land. It provides evidence to the courts and other authorities that the boundaries and rights of a piece of land are as claimed. Without it, disputes over land ownership may become difficult to resolve.

A surveyor certificate also provides detailed information about what exactly is owned by whom. This includes accurate measurements of the boundaries of the land, its shape and size, and any other features such as buildings or trees that are on the property. Furthermore, it lists all rights associated with the land including access rights or rights-of-way for other people to use. Knowing this information can help both parties in a dispute to understand their respective rights more clearly.

Moreover, a surveyor certificate allows parties to assess potential risks associated with a property purchase before going ahead with it. For example, if there are existing easements or access agreements associated with the property then these need to be taken into account when making an offer on the land. In addition, having this kind of information can help inform decisions about development plans for a site in order to ensure compliance with local planning regulations.

In conclusion, having a surveyor certificate is essential for anyone looking to buy or develop a piece of land as it provides legal proof of ownership as well as detailed information about what is included in that ownership. It also helps buyers understand their rights and obligations before making an offer on a property so they can make informed decisions regarding their purchase or development plans accordingly.

Related: Surveyor Resume Examples

FAQs About Surveyor Certifications

1. What qualifications do I need to become a surveyor?

Answer: To become a surveyor, you must have a bachelor’s degree in surveying or related field, as well as complete a state-approved surveyor certification program and pass the necessary exams.

2. How long does it take to become certified?

Answer: The length of time to become certified depends on the individual and the certification program they are enrolled in. Generally, it takes between one and two years to complete the necessary requirements for certification.

3. Are there different types of certifications?

Answer: Yes, there are several different types of certifications available depending on your area of specialty within the surveying field. These include Professional Land Surveyor (PLS), Certified Federal Surveyor (CFS), and Registered Professional Land Surveyor (RPLS).

4. What is involved in an exam for certification?

Answer: Exams for certification involve questions that test an individual’s knowledge and proficiency in various surveying topics such as land boundaries, topography, mapping techniques, and legal principles.

5. Is continuing education required for maintaining my certification?

Answer: Yes, continuing education is required to maintain your certification status with most organizations that offer certifications in the surveying field. You may be expected to take courses or attend seminars regularly to keep up with changes in technology and regulations within the field.

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