Top 3 Reasons Why Land Surveyors Should Know And Use AutoCAD Civil 3D

AutoCAD Civil 3D Topics

AutoCAD Civil 3D Topics

In this Premium Post I'd like to share with you my three reasons why land surveyors should know and use AutoCAD Civil 3D.  Not already a Premium Member? You can register here »»Premium Signup.

Two different land surveyors asked me this same question the other day: Why do I need to know and use AutoCAD Civil 3D?

Of course, the subtext of this question is that 1) AutoCAD Civil 3D isn't for land surveyors, and 2) Most industry firms use one of the "other" land surveying software packages.

Both of the above two myths aren't true. Regardless, whether you're a land surveying firm owner, an employee, or job-seeking land surveyor, you should know how to use AutoCAD Civil 3D.

Top 3 Reasons Why Land Surveyors Should Know And Use AutoCAD Civil 3D

  1. AutoCAD Civil 3D is generally the dominant software package used in the land surveying and civil industries. That's based on my observations - if there are statistics to the contrary then please let me know. Sure, there are many other land surveying and civil software packages in use, but AutoCAD Civil 3D is king. You might not know this yet because of AutoCAD Land Desktop latency, which will soon become a non-issue as companies switch over from AutoCAD Land Desktop to AutoCAD Civil 3D seats. I fact, now that AutoCAD Land Desktop is no longer supported, I'm already starting to see a big migration to AutoCAD Civil 3D happening. More importantly, I believe that AutoCAD Civil 3D has reached a tipping point with an ever-increasing number of companies (civil and surveying) now using Civil 3D.
  2. Using AutoCAD Civil 3D is now a required, and expected, job skill. Regardless of whether you are now employed in a design/surveying office or if you are looking for employment, having a working knowledge of AutoCAD Civil 3D and effective AutoCAD Civil 3D skills are now a necessity. Even if you're a field surveyor, knowing and understanding AutoCAD Civil 3D makes you a better employee (and one who could more easily and quickly move up the ladder of success).
  3. AutoCAD Civil 3D is data driven and not process driven. What do you mean, you ask? Well, the AutoCAD Civil 3D concept is to create the data once, and then to share/use the data many times; separation of data and style/display. This is the most often overlooked feature of AutoCAD Civil 3D (mostly because the setup is a bear), but it is, at its core, the greatest strength of AutoCAD Civil 3D. Why is this, you ask? Because in separating data from style, not only can the data be more easily used many times in a project, but those many uses can now also be updated dynamically. And, what's even better, is that AutoCAD Civil 3D is based on the MAP engine, so everything is GIS compatible, which will benefit your projects and your company's bottom line.

Above I stated that "AutoCAD Civil 3D is data driven and not process driven", which could use some clarification. First, it is rare that any software package or computational method keeps "processes" completely distinct from the data source. AutoCAD Civil 3D is no different in this respect, but does as a good job of keeping form separated from function as any of the other software packages I've used.

Second, do not confuse what I said with AutoCAD Civil 3D not having any built-in "processes" at all. Nothing could be further from the truth. In working with your data in AutoCAD Civil 3D you will be using many built-in processes. Unfortunately, these built-in processes - really more like work-flows - might be unfamiliar to you at first and do require you to understand (mathematically and functionally) what it is you are doing. But, that's a topic for another time.

This Professional Land Surveyor Premium Post written by Eric Colburn, PLS, Professional Land Surveyor Adviser & Revivalist.


I am a Professional Land Surveyor having over 25 years of experience in the land surveying and land development industries. I am also the president of Foster Survey Company, which is a professional land surveying company established in March of 1993.

I provide expertise in performing expert professional land surveying services such as Boundary Surveys, Lot Surveys, ALTA Surveys, GPS, Subdivision Design, Condominiums, Septic System Design, Perc Tests, Topographic Mapping, Wetlands Applications, Construction Layout, Flood Certificates, Aerial Control Mapping and Control, Cadastral Surveying, GIS, Land Planning and Cartographic Mapping, to name a few.

I have worked with and used many software packages and surveying equipment over the years. Currently I use high performance, quality and advanced high tech surveying equipment, computer systems and surveying systems. I employ the latest technological equipment including Robotic Total Stations (Leica TPS 1200), Global Positioning Systems (Trimble 4800) and AutoCAD Civil 3D 2010.

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