Survey: Land Surveying Business Climate

How would you rate the current Land Surveying business climate?

  • Bad (70%, 21 Votes)
  • No Change (17%, 5 Votes)
  • Good (10%, 3 Votes)
  • Excellent (3%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 30

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Eric D. Colburn, PLS, "The Geo-Business Innovator", helps geo-professionals improve through innovative solutions, mastery of marketing and business growth strategies, and coaching/training. Eric is a successful, serial entrepreneur, podcaster, industry writer, product development consultant, and RI licensed professional land surveyor.

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6 comments on “Survey: Land Surveying Business Climate
  1. As a whole, I would have to rate the current surveying climate as poor to bad, however that would depend on what your primary focus as a surveyor is. For surveyors in the private sector whose work is mostly within construction industry, the climate is most definitely bad (to worse). For surveyors in the private sector who focus on municipal projects, their climate may have little to no change. For some public sector surveyors, there is defniately no change in the climate.
    – Kevin Nehring, PLS

  2. admin says:

    Kevin Nehring, PLS makes a good point in his comment. Each land surveying sector most likely is experiencing a different and unique business climate from each other. The three unique land surveying business sectors Kevin identifies are: private sector focused on construction projects, private sector focused on municipal projects and public sector surveyors.

    Those focusing on construction surely are struggling. Although, up until recently I’ve heard that commercial work has been strong. Certainly though, the housing market is in terrible shape with record lows in new building permits and tumbling prices for existing homes.

    I think some land surveyors who focus on municipal projects may be hit harder in this downturn than in past economic downturns because with reduced tax receipts and increased cost, many municipalities are finding it difficult to fund municipal projects.

    Additionally, for the first time in many years (if ever) some municipalities, state agencies and quasi state agencies are reducing staff to meet budget shortfalls. I don’t know if this has had an effect on any public sector surveyors.

    Please let me know your thoughts and if you could, please tell us what your land surveying business sector is so that I can use this information in a new poll.


  3. Here in western Canada business is brisk, very brisk. The oil and gas exploration/production operations have been extremely active over the past number of years and are expected to maintain the same level of activity for several years to come. The challenge currently for the surveying sector is an abundance of work coupled with a very tight labour pool. In fact this is common across most sectors in western Canada.

  4. Paul Fackeldey says:

    If you’re just a land survey drafter like me (or that’s what I used to be), things are just awful in California. And I was told what a promising career this would be.

    • admin says:

      Paul, I’m sorry to hear that things are just awful in your state (been there, doing that). Your comment on being told that land surveying would be a promising career reminds me of an old boss of mine: Every job we went to he would tell us that the site was “a wide open field”.

      Needless to say, it often wasn’t!

      What do you think would make land surveying a more promising career?

  5. Paul Fackeldey says:

    That is a very good question, Eric. It took a little time, but I wanted to give you a well thought out answer.

    Well, the obvious answer would be having a more stable, burgeoning US economy that gives confidence to the lending markets to resume loan activity at their normal capacity. The trickle down economical effect would then promote more growth in construction activity all across the board. But due to budget cutbacks in the government and by main players in the private sector, developers and investment firms are not receiving the same incentives as they once enjoyed. This has basically stonewalled the field of land surveying because prosperity in the private sector relies heavily on these trickle down economics to happen. It seems the only surveyors doing well these days are those who work on infrastructure projects.

    What I’ve also noticed from my own personal experience is that there are too many drafters in the office who just know drafting and too many instrument operators in the field who are trained to just focus the lens and press the right buttons. Many are not very familiar with the “nuts and bolts” of land surveying and they, for the most part, show no incentive to learn more about it either. Occasionally, it can get really frustrating working with these people because they just can’t communicate effectively on your level. Perhaps principals of surveying and civil engineering firms need to offer incentives for employees to attend classes and learn more about land surveying.

    It’s also not fair to shut out the entry-level or unlicensed job candidates either. Having these horrible staffing agencies weed them out and only hiring people who have a Bachelor’s Degree, a PLS license, or a LSIT certificate stiffles a career like mine. A good remedy would be to require new employees, as well as current ones, to complete the survey technician certification program offered by NSPS. That, and also offer a bonus incentive for obtaining LSIT certification or a PLS license.

    To edify my point, it’s a cold hard fact that Registered Land Surveyors have to attend yearly seminars and classes to keep their knowledge up-to-date and their licenses intact. -Paul