Business

Math, love of outdoors must for surveyors

Ron Fisher is a survey department manager with Cox & Dinkins Inc. He spoke with the Columbia Business Journal about his job.

WHAT’S THE JOB?

“Surveyors retrace property lines. We’re experts in measurements, and we re-establish boundaries. We find the old plats and deeds to properties and retrace them on site. We go out with our electronic equipment,” Fisher said.

“Survey department managers oversee field survey work. We check the crews’ work. æ.æ.æ. I’d also be out on site on most of these projects, especially if there’s a problem. Most common problem is the destruction of any monument indicating a boundary.

WHAT’S THE PAY?

According to Cox & Dinkins president Gene Dinkins Sr., an experienced field survey technician can make between $35,000 and $40,000 a year. A professional land surveyor like Fisher can make $50,000 or more.

WHAT ARE THE PLUSES?

“If you like working outside, it’s wonderful. You’ve got to have a desire to be working outside,” Fisher said. Surveyors mainly work during the day, so there are few late shifts.

WHAT’S THE DOWNSIDE?

“The less desirable part is the weather. It depends on how bad the weather is. If it’s a light rain or a light mist, we’ll work in it,” Fisher said.

WHAT ARETHE DEMANDS?

“(A surveyor) should have good math skills, but that depends on the skill level. Some positions are just doing what the crew chief tells you to do. You have to be able to go through the legal documents like deeds. A lot of surveys don’t have a plat you can follow, so you have to follow the deed and visualize where to look” for boundary marks, he said.

WHO WOULD SUCCEED IN THIS JOB?

“Someone who likes to work outdoors, likes to work in a tight-knit crew. We use everybody’s talents on the job. Anyone who can visualize things spatially from words on paper,” Fisher said.

WHAT ARE THE HOURS?

Most surveyor firms are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Cox & Dinkins is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday to allow workers a half-day off on Fridays.

WHAT EDUCATIONDO YOU NEED?

Fisher said a worker could be a rodman, or the man who holds a measuring pole for another person to survey, without significant training. An associate’s degree in civil engineering or a related major has become a requirement. A longer degree program is being proposed statewide.

HOW DID YOU GET STARTED?

Fisher attended Midlands Technical College and studied in a surveying program. He started working concurrently as a rodman, then became an instrument man, then crew chief, then took the supervisor/manager position.

IS THERE ROOMFOR ADVANCEMENT?

“There really is great room for advancement. It’s what you make of it,” Fisher said.

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