Thought Leader: Preserving the Profession

A 80Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE

In recent years we have been faced with the fact that the number of licensed Professional Land Surveyors is declining rapidly. Then I read articles about the "one man" surveying companies, and how they are saving money, but who is going to save the profession? New technology has afforded us the opportunity to be "one man" companies, but most of us got involved in the business by working on a survey crew, deciding we liked it, and obtaining the education needed to become professional land surveyors.

In a recent article in a land surveying magazine, the land surveyor states that he began his career in surveying as a part time rodman, and held other titles including instrument man, party chief, project manager, survey department manager. Some of his experience must have come from working for various companies during his career and obtaining knowledge along the way.

Running a surveying & engineering company is not easy and not for everyone. I have been in business for 27 years and have trained and mentored many along the way. Employees are the biggest expense in a company, but by having employees you not only contribute to the economic impact of your community, you are also providing education and training in the profession and quite possibly planting the seed of future surveyors.

Education is not the only answer. Our profession requires mentoring and hands on training to learn how to find monuments, research, make decisions on what was found and compare the information with what is recorded and what is not recorded, but is used. Surveying is a profession that cannot totally be taught by education alone. We as surveyor’s must incorporate new people in the profession, mentor them and help educate them if the profession is to survive!

Our Company has mentored many people over the years. One became licensed, took the challenge and joined the Missouri Society of Profession Land Surveyors, worked her way to become the 1st female president to lead our society and did an excellent job. She has been involved with many surveying projects since, including the monumenting of the Joseph C. Brown Memorial. We have had several other personnel get licensed, some work for other companies, some opened their own business in the area where they live. Needless to say, we have encouraged and mentored people to get involved and stay involved with the surveying profession.

This profession cannot be taught in school by itself. School will not tell us how to find a monument in the field, or if we are missing the original monument. School will also not educate us on how to resolve a boundary. It takes experience to learn how to compare recorded documents, with what we find in the field and the differences between possessions and recorded, and where is the correct line? This can only come from experience which as our profession ages is going away.

When the "one man" survey company quits, retires or goes out of business it’s gone–no one to take his place. New technology is great, but let’s help the future of the surveying profession by passing along our knowledge by hiring, training, and mentoring new people in the field.

Daniel L. Govero is president of Govero Land Services in Imperial, Missouri.

A 80Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE