Land Surveyor Licensing
Land surveyors in all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, must be individually licensed before practicing or soliciting business as a surveyor.
Explore licensing in your state:
While each state board for surveyors has its own requirements for licensure, potential licensees will follow a similar path of prerequisites to obtain a license in any state. Prerequisites typically include:
- An education requirement - Sometimes a high school diploma but some states also require a four-year degree from an accredited surveying program.
- Successful completion of a Fundamentals of Surveying (FS) written examination, testing an applicant’s breadth of understanding of basic surveying principles.
- Successful completion of a written Principles and Practice of Surveying (PS) examination, testing an applicant's knowledge and competency of surveying skills.
- A requisite amount of surveying experience, which for most states is four years and is usually under the supervision of a professional surveyor.
Advanced Degree Waiver: In some cases, a state board of surveying may waive the requirement of a four-year degree and register an applicant who has demonstrated professional experience that is deemed to be equivalent to a degree in surveying from an accredited program.
Land Surveyor-in-Training Certificates
After passing the Fundamentals of Surveying exam, most states issue or allow individuals to apply for a land surveyor-in-training (LSIT) certificate. Although in many states LSIT certificates are valid perpetually, some states require certificates to be renewed periodically. Click on a state page link below for more information about land surveyor-in-training certificates in your state.
In addition to the standard licensing requirements mentioned above, some states have additional requirements that go beyond what is required in other states. Additional requirements often include:
- A duration of state residency
- A reference from licensed surveyor
- A duration of internship or training
- Additional experience
- Additional jurisdiction-specific exams (beyond the FS and PS)
Initial Application Process
After meeting the prerequisites for licensure, applicants can begin the license application process. Depending on the state, applicants may need to file an application with the board prior to taking the PS exam, after passing the PS exam, or both prior to taking and after passing the PS exam.
Like the application process, application fees also vary by state. Some states charge separate fees for exam applications, license applications, and the issuance of the license, while other states charge a single flat fee. In many states, applicants must wait until their license application is approved before submitting the license fee and then receiving their license from the board.
Thanks to reciprocity, many land surveyors are licensed to practice in more than just one jurisdiction for greater job flexibility, mobility, and security. Reciprocity or licensure by comity is when a registered surveyor in one jurisdiction applies for registration in another by providing documentation that he or she meets that jurisdiction's registration requirements. Typically this is accomplished through an NCEES Record.
Registration boards examine and keep a record of qualifications for each applicant for registration. Many registration boards expect an NCEES Record as a basis for reciprocal registration, although some will consider applicants without this record. A complete copy of an applicant’s NCEES Record will be provided to a registration board in support of the application for reciprocal registration.
Land surveyor licenses typically need to be renewed on an annual or biennial basis. In addition to filing a renewal application and paying the license renewal fee, surveyors in almost every state must also complete continuing education hours during the license renewal period. Many states require either 24 or 30 hours of continuing education over the course of a two-year license period. Keeping up with each state’s requirements, tracking renewals, and submitting the applications on time is critical to avoiding penalties. Dedicated compliance software and services can help you keep track of varying jurisdiction requirements and relevant updates to state laws.
Design Firm - Engineering firm registration is sometimes grouped with architecture and land surveying on a single “design firm” application form.
EI (Engineering Intern) - A term also used to describe an Engineer in Training.
EIT (Engineer in Training) - A professional designation granted upon having completed at least 3 years of school at an ABET-accredited university and having passed the FE exam.
FE (Fundamentals of Engineering) - An exam testing on basic engineering principles that is required to become an engineer in training.
PE (Professional Engineer or 'Principles and Practice in Engineering') - Means either Professional Engineer or refers to the Principles and Practice in Engineering exam that is a prerequisite for an engineering license.
Reciprocity - When a licensed engineer in one state can provide documentation (often an NCEES Record) to more easily apply for a license in another jurisdiction.
Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)
Accrediting board that sets standards for university programs in a variety of applied science disciplines.
American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC)
Engineering, architecture, and land surveying advocacy group.
American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
Organization that provides continuing education, professional conferences, and advocacy efforts to the civil engineering community.
American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
Mechanical engineering organization that focuses on education and professional development.
Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC)
Reviews accreditation requirements and makes final decisions regarding the accreditation process.
National Council of Examiners for Engineering & Surveying (NCEES)
Develops, administers, and scores the exams used for engineering licenses.
National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE)
NSPE is an advocacy group for professional engineers.
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