What are the Different Construction Surveying Jobs?

D. Jeffress

Construction surveyors take careful measurements and suggest blueprint adjustments to ensure construction projects are carried out efficiently and successfully. They survey land to determine the need to level and stabilize ground and oversee the actual construction process to make sure everything is built to specifications. Professionals who hold construction surveying jobs usually specialize in certain types of projects, such as building roads, bridges, buildings, or sewer systems. Construction surveying jobs can be found in many settings, though most workers are employed by private contracting companies and municipal government organizations.

Construction surveying jobs can be found in many settings.
Construction surveying jobs can be found in many settings.

Many construction surveying jobs entail planning new city roads, highways, and tunnels. A team of surveyors uses specialized measuring devices to determine the appropriate widths and lengths of proposed roads and decide how much material will be needed to complete projects. Many surveyors utilize computer software programs and global positioning systems to ensure their measurements are accurate. Professionals make expert recommendations about the removal or addition of earth to help make roads as straight and level as possible. During construction, surveyors place guide ribbons and stakes at predetermined points so road builders stay on course.

Maps are used in construction surveying.
Maps are used in construction surveying.

A construction surveyor may also specialize in the creation or renovation of a bridge. Like other construction surveying jobs, bridge surveying involves making careful measurements and assessing the need for materials and supplies. Surveyors identify potentially dangerous or unstable banks alongside rivers and suggest ways to minimize the chance of a collapse. They inform construction crews of exactly where and how to install support beams, railings, and cables.

Construction surveyors work closely with planning engineers to ensure a project's successful completion.
Construction surveyors work closely with planning engineers to ensure a project's successful completion.

Residential and building construction surveying jobs involve marking the corners of foundations, determining the best locations for parking areas, and deciding where pipelines should be installed. Construction surveyors are frequently contracted to provide advice on the placement of large factory pipes and city sewer systems. They consider the composition of soil and the natural slope of a piece of land to determine the most cost-efficient, effective underground systems.

Professionals in all types of construction surveying jobs work closely with engineers and planning committees to ensure everyone involved is aware of what needs to be done to complete projects. They present engineers and architects with their findings, so they can make the appropriate adjustments to their plans. If an issue occurs on-site regarding the placement or alignment of a structure, the construction surveying team can provide expert opinions on how to overcome the problem and get the project back on track.

A surveyor uses a theodolite to survey property.
A surveyor uses a theodolite to survey property.

Discussion Comments


The funniest kind of property line dispute goes like this:

Neighbor #1 decides that neighbor #2 is using part of "his" property. It could be a fence, a shed, whatever. Maybe the guy just walks his dog there. He decides to talk to neighbor #2 about it.

Neighbor #2 tells him to go take a long walk off a short pier, he has been using that property since before neighbor #1 even bought his place and has no idea what neighbor #1 is talking about.

Neighbor #1 pays for a survey, and finds out he was wrong all the time and now it is on record that his neighbor owns a chunk of his yard that he thought he paid for when he bought the house.

Sometimes it's better to let sleeping dogs lie.


@Viktor13 - You are so right! I am a surveyor, and I love my job. Well, most of my job. Okay, all of my job except one part. The part where people are fighting over a property line. It gets crazy. People who have been friends for 20 years suddenly go to war, and start hiring lawyers and surveyors.

It's job security, but it can be very stressful. I really prefer construction surveyor jobs where I can lay everything out properly before anything is built. A lot of times, I find that the building lot does not have the exact boundaries that anyone thinks it has. So I fix it, before they build anything.

The stakes are even higher on the commercial side. I don't think my insurance carrier would like it very much if I gave the wrong measurements and somebody built a $100 million building too close to a lot line, or too close to the road, then had to fight a long legal battle to keep from having to tear it down.


Getting the survey right is really important, whether you're doing a residential job or a commercial one. Property line disputes are some of the ugliest fights between neighbors. There is nothing worse than not getting a survey, then finding out you built your fence partway on a neighbor's lot and have to tear the whole thing down.

Getting it right during the initial construction job is the best way to go. It can cost you large amounts of money and years of headache if you don't.

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