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Responses to 2015 Age of RPLS Profile
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The following are the email responses received to the Age of RPLS Surveyors Profile for 2015, compiled by Dr. Gary Jeffress, RPLS.

Each bullet represents the start of each response:

  • It’s good thing that we are so much more efficient these days...
  • I am RPLS [on the Board]. I received my license in February 1981. Since Greg Smyth left the board, my registration number is lower than anyone on the board. I believe our numbers are affected by the PE's that wanted a survey license but did not want to comply with the continuing education requirements. I agree we need to get our numbers up but I am at a loss as how to do it.
  • ..... the only bright spot that I see is that the under 40 group has shown a steady increase over the study period.  Not enough, but at least a good trend. Thanks for your good work.  Looking forward to your next report outlining the solution to the problem.
  • Good comments Gary. I agree with your logic.
  • Should your data also correspond to an increase in salaries for current/future RPLS’s?
  • Thanks Gary. I agree with your thoughts.
  • Good to hear from you.  I couldn't agree with you more on how we should be charging for our services (especially since that's what you taught us in legal aspects class!)! I have found in the last few years that when I estimate a cost for a survey, taking in all the factors I can foresee and some I cannot, I usually end up being really close to 1% or soof the value of the property according to the county appraisal district, which is not always market value (at least in our area) or the asking price if it is selling, but it is a good way to check my estimates.  [We] have discussed this several times and he uses the same approach when checking himself as well.  Hope you have been doing well!
  • I have always thought our profession should charge a percentage of the closing cost for properties or construction related work, similar to Real Estate fees. The problem lies in the fact that if we were to ask a 1.0% rate (or even 0.75%) the title company will go to the next surveyor, who will charge only a portion of what it takes to perform a quality title survey. There will always be that surveyor who will work for “peanuts” just to get the work.
    How many title factory survey companies exist who think the best way to make money is by high volume-low fee and not competent service at a respectable cost (i.e. quality product)?
    My guess is they are not concerned with the liability issue.
    We simply do not perform title work for this reason.
    Very hard to compete with high volume/low fee companies.
  • I could not agree with you more.  As a profession, we sell ourselves short, especially in the area of compensation for the service we perform.  Add in the liability that we take on and it begins to make more sense to somehow set fees based on the value of the property being surveyed.  Thank you for shedding some light on the concept.
  • This is indeed great data to know moving forward. I’ve had only antidotal evidence of this until now. As you know, this is a very great concern of mine and I’m looking at alternatives to get our numbers up. Again, I appreciate what you do and hope we can come together to find a solution to the needs of our profession.
  • Thanks for sharing Dr. Jeffress. Should be interesting to see how this affects us all in the next 20 years…
  • You made some great points and agree with all.
    Thanks for the info.
  • I see one of the obstacles being the number of non licensed surveyors operating at some capacity for the public and in hire to private companies for that second opinion or non professional opinion on a survey and where title policy or loan is a factor.
    That and the constant regrowth of lowballers and survey brokers offering poor quality professionalism and are willing to drive hours away from the office for a quick turn around without producing a quality product just to satisfy getting papers to some unsuspecting client for half the normal price.
    I have always believed in Professional Surveyors performing a high quality product for a high quality living rate.
    We perform most of the labor in any title transaction and produce the standard for the content of most every description of property being transferred.
    Everyone else has the right to disclaim any liability of the product and let that liability rest in the hands of the surveyor.
    In all sanity of reason the Surveyor should be compensated generously and in fairness in accordance to their role while bearing most of the responsibility and liability of the final product that amount should equal that of everyone involved.
    We are not simple laborers embarking on a journey into the woods. We are well educated professionals and understand the difference between the ability to measure and the complex methods required to produce the most simple of surveys according to law.
  • Thanks!
  • Thank you for the very interesting information. Is there any types of classes or programs in or around the Houston area that have upper level education for surveyors? It would be great if Texas A and M Galveston had some class schedules for surveyors in the Houston area. [Dr. Jeffress responds: The University of Houston has had a Surveying Technology program in the past with more than one attempt to keep the program going. Lack of student numbers have forced it to close. At this time the program is not running.]
  • When I first started reading this, I thought you were going to be headed in a different direction other than fee increase, which by the way, I agree with completely.  Why do you think the age is rising?  I think the education requirement has caused this. I KNOW the requirement has affected my company.  I’ve been saying this for over 15 years.  I have 4 guys that have been working for me since the late 90’s and just missed the cutoff.  They are excellent surveyors and love what they do because they’ve been with me so long.  They had a little college education, but not much, because that wasn’t their “thing”.   My concern is that smaller shops like mine, in the rural areas especially, will fade away because there’s no one to take over and keep them open.  I know that’s the case with my office here in Wellington.  I’m 59 and am getting closer to retirement and these guys are in their late 40’s and early 50’s.  When I quit, they’re going to have to.  I almost feel an obligation to work longer than I want to keep these guys employed.  I could say more, but you get my gist. [Dr. Jeffress responds: I am sorry I do not have a solution for your situation. I see our profession in the same light as all other professions that require a college education followed up with a substantial period of on-the-job training with practicing professionals. Real estate is deemed far to valuable to have uneducated and untrained people messing with the legal descriptions and on ground evidence of boundary location. I agree, some of the best surveyors I ever worked with were technicians that were not licensed, but did have many years experience in the field. I would not be adverse to having some kind of long-term experience, which would include research and office work before sitting for the RPLS exams. We are making it easier for rural folks to take our courses online. If you would like more details I can direct you to the right resources.
    I do know that the fastest way for a high school leaver to become a RPLS is do undertake our four-year degree, sit for the SIT on graduation and pass the RPLS exams after two years experience. All up six years. The problem is convincing a high school leaver to join our profession when we charge such low fees and offer low salaries.
    I sincerely hope you get to enjoy a long and healthy retirement when you are ready.]
  • Thank you, Dr. Jeffress. Your statistics are always a bit alarming to look upon. I appreciate your research on the profession as you make very relevant points. This will definitely be a topic of conversation in one of our next chapter meetings.
    Thank you for your efforts and Brianne’s in compiling this data.  It definitely helps show the state of our profession with respect to the # of licensed individuals.  1845 RPLS’s are 50 and older, meaning 73% are within 15 years of retirement, or are already at/over retirement age.  +/-2500 RPLS’s for the entire state of Texas, just doesn’t sound like enough.  That averages out to about 1 RPLS for every +/-107 square miles.  I agree with your comments regarding fees.  Unfortunately, we have been our own worst enemy regarding pay/compensation and the rates we charge for our services.  How we go about helping an entire profession to understand their worth, in order to charge appropriately for their services, I don’t know.  I wish I did, I think it would help solve the problem with getting people into this profession.  More fee for service = more compensation for employees = more people attracted to the profession.
    If there’s anything I can do to help support the students at your school (book reimbursement/sponsor, $$ for equipment, etc.), please let me know.  We’ve been looking for an RPLS for a year without much luck.  Think of how much worse this problem will be in just 5 or 10 years.
    Thanks again to you and Brianne for your efforts.
  • You know when I give an estimate, I look at the value of the land from the appraisal district and see what 1% would run.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it is either too high or too low depending on what is being requested to be done.  I was asked how I determined my fee on one survey where I charged 1% of the cost of the transaction.  It was about 150 acres and the transaction was $650,000.  The client flipped he thought I was extremely too high.  When I explained that by providing our survey we increased the value of the property because he now has a set of field notes that can be properly titled and have insurance issued on.  He disputed that claim and said he could get a surveyor to do the same service for a lump sum for more than half off our costs.  However, when asked, he did say that his real estate agent charged more than 4%.  What service did they provide that increased the value of the property was my question.
    I agree with you but I do not think we will be able to over come the stigma that surveyors have with the public until we educate the public of the importance of our service and the liability that is involved with that.
    Keep up the fight and I will do the same.
  • This is a great article and should be published in all of the state and national publications.
    I am 63 years old and have not encouraged anyone to pursue the land surveying profession, due to low salaries. I owned an engineering firm (even though I am not an engineer) for 10 years and it was much more profitable than my surveying firm of 45 years, and it should not be that way. Being in the surveying profession has been very rewarding, but I was blessed to find other opportunities, as many surveyors have in the past, to be able to survive the slow economic times.
    Thanks for the article and for what you do for the surveying profession.
  • Thanks Gary, that's an interesting and timely data analysis. It's both an opportunity for us younguns and a wake up call to recognize the challenge we have to face in the near future as professionals.
  • I very much agree with you that this is the time for a collective effort.
    However, to be successful we need the board to actively pursue and penalize poor work.  For example, the assembly line mortgage survey companies charging $400, and not spending the time to rebuild the original subdivision.  These guys will not be onboard to support a fixed fee, as they are loved by realtors as they are cheap and fast.  However, they are seldom accurate.  But when it is the requirement of a seller to pay for the survey, they don’t care about accuracy.
    Our board is made up of our peers, and as thus would have our best interest at heart.  How is a realtor entitled to 3% when most only place it on the MLS and hire a showing service.  1% is a minimum for a quality survey.
    I also believe that the membership would be willing to pay for the efforts of more investigators and enforcements.  2500 surveyors paying an additional $100 would generate $250,000.  That should hire several investigators.  Then we would have the penalties coming in to also fund this department.
    But I believe we must filter the weak from our profession, or at least require them to behave.  Only then can we collectively charge what we deserve.  By charging more, we raise the average salary.  By raising the salary, we attract more youth to the profession.  With more professionals we can raise the requirements and quality of our peers.  Our future is ours to shape, but must be done as a collective.  As Theodore Roosevelt said, lets “Speak Softly”, but we need our boards support to be our “Big Stick”.
  • Certainly good points.  And removing the "hourly wage" would go a long way to enhancing the publics perception of our profession as being a profession.  It would require a united effort by both TSPS an TBPLS to make it happen.  Boundary surveying should be separated from construction surveying as two distinctly different endeavors.
    Please pursue it.
  • Thank you for putting the data together and educating future surveyors. I strongly believe that we as a profession should charge a percentage as you stated and often we are our own enemy since many surveyors undercut fees just to keep the lights on. Thank you for all you do for the profession.
  • You are spot on and I am grateful that you are compiling data like this and keeping us updated. I think we are very underpaid for the service we provide and think the market will take notice very soon.
    I am what is considered a young surveyor at the ripe young age of 40 and am excited about the opportunities that currently exist in this field. I definitely know my value and make sure that I am compensated accordingly and hope that my peers are doing the same in order to raise the profession as a whole. Thank you for your dedication to the surveying profession!
  • This data is always sobering. I agree with your analysis but another take away from this is that a large number of licensed surveyors are approaching retirement age which will certainly lead to an even lower number of Texas RPLS. The hope is as the numbers decline the value of surveying services increases and thereby the fees and salaries earned increase, bringing more men and women into the profession. This situation is not unique to Texas.
  • Very good job.
  • Thanks for the info.  Sure need to get more younger folks into the profession.  Have you thought about doing a similar check on the LSLS licensees?  I'm afraid that group will look much worse.
  • I have believed for the past 20 years that title surveys should be a minimum of 1% of the sales price. The realtors and title companies are based on a percentage of the sales price and they have little to no liability to speak of. I have been told that even to even discuss this could be considered price fixing which of course is illegal.
    The big problems we have in pricing surveys are the companies that are out there that do not survey to the standards that the rest of us uphold. There are several in San Antonio; the biggest one that I know of is [name withheld]. There, I have been told by RPLS’s that have worked there, the office manager who is not an RPLS is in charge of the surveys and will not allow crews to go back out when the RPLS says they need more information to solve a boundary. The crews are paid as individual contractors.
    I do not try to compete with them but there are people in town that try to.
    In addition, we have many RPLS’s that work out of their house and some work alone, they do not have the overhead that larger companies like mine have and many of them have no business training in order to know how to price their surveys.
    If we get a percentage set, the clients would expect a higher quality survey than they get from companies like [name withheld]. What would prevent companies like [name withheld] from providing surveys for less money in order to keep their business?
  • I agree whole heartedly. I used to start my seminars with some facts that have not been updated in years but I’m sure they have only gotten to be more of an example. In 2000 there were 65,000 practicing Civil Engineer, P.E.’s in the State of Texas, more than 80,000 Attorneys at Law with specialties in Real Estate and almost 100,000 Architects. Yet now there are less than ten Registered Professional Land Surveyors per county in Texas or about 2,500. We get most of our work from these professionals and yet our fees are much less than any one of these professionals. The law of supply and demand is being totally ignored by Land Surveyors that would rather beat someone else’s price than make a fair and reasonable profit. We do not have to become the McDonald’s of Surveying (bulk fees) to thrive as a profession which would encourage young people to get into the profession just as they would Engineering, Law, and Architecture for the prestige and the better quality of life as a professional. I agree there should be more research to update all these statistics and write an article in the Texas Surveyor. I do not advocate price fixing but I do advocate an adherence to the law of supply and demand before our profession becomes extinct. Thanks for your information.
  • Thank you very much for sending this information.  It is very helpful.
  • I agree that these are crucial issues for surveying.  I truly believe mentoring is a big part of building our industry and the lack of mentoring limits the growth industry-wide. According to the age group chart, in 2005 there were only 200 active surveyors under the age of 40 and in comparison to 2015 there are 320. While the numbers are still fairly low, this shows some progress in bringing new candidates into the industry. Between not mentoring and not knowing/charging our worth, surveyors will continue to struggle to compete with other industries for new candidates.
    In your e-mail you discussed two different aspects that affect surveying:
    A. Our People -  the number and age of active surveyors
    B.  Our Value  - the financial aspects of the industry
    Our People
    As evidenced by your attachment, the average age of active surveyors continues to increase with many at or near retirement thus decreasing the number of active surveyors in the workforce. From my understanding, this continues to be the trend and was one of the many reasons I chose to pursue registration.  Surveyors are extremely important, yet overlooked and under-appreciated for their role in the society and the economy.  With the continuation of this decrease in active surveyors, the value of an RPLS increases. Combine the increase in value with the economic demands and the industry can potentially be very lucrative. Add the newest technological advancements in the industry and surveying becomes a highly technical, highly profitable, and highly attractive industry to enter. Thus, potentially increasing the interest of new young surveyors into the workforce. It is still up to surveyors to continue to promote the industry and the profession, because without new surveyors the industry will suffer greatly. Mentor-ship and community outreach are crucial to building the industry.
    Our Value
    The second issue, finances are continuously competitive to a fault. The industry has a reputation for cutthroat price slashing in order to get the work, especially among title surveyors and even construction surveying. The majority of the general community has no idea what surveyors do, nor why they should pay them what they are worth.
    How often do you hear surveyors discuss potential clients that call and when given the estimated price range the sticker-shocked caller responds "What? I thought it would be maybe $500 at the most!" I can barely have my car serviced for $500, yet a typical caller is astounded at the range a typical survey costs. The primary issue is that they do not know or understand what is involved in surveying, they do not know the value of our service or product that we provide. They do not know that we must go out to their property, locate their corners, analyze the boundary, draft their house, all improvements and utilities, research title, easements, and other encumbrances and more. Once informed, the general public has a better appreciation for the product and are willing to pay for the value of the survey.
    Surveyors also now pay more for the benefits of technology allowing us to work more efficiently and accurately than ever. However, many companies still charge the same or lower prices than they did in previous years. I agree with your suggestion of charging on a percentage value of the real estate or construction project rather than by the hour or a flat fee for a standard product (i.e. basic lot survey). I know that the value proposed cost works and can be done - I have seen it in action. While some may argue that it can be a downfall for a company because the work may go to another company, not charging the true value of our product is an even greater fall for the company and for our industry.
    Land Surveying is important. We provide a valuable product and service to our clients and should be paid for our value, worth, and skills. We need to mentor and reach out in order to continue to build the industry and provide staffing for our companies. With interests in history, math, technology, problem solving, and more - Surveying is a highly attractive career if only they know about it!
    Thank you Dr. Jeffress for your e-mail, research, and industry action on these topics. I am extremely passionate about these issues and how they impact our industry.
    I appreciate your time and efforts. It is very interesting to see the numbers in your research.
  • Good observations Gary.  Sometimes I think we are our own worst enemy.  Hopefully the profession will become more professional.  We have made great strides in educating the surveyor…not so much in compensation.
  • Excellent data – thank you. I joined this great industry mid-career, so I elected to purchase an existing entity, with a plan to eventually become licensed. Both of our licensed surveyors are closer to 65 than 58. Your comments about billing jumped out at me and is actually something I’ve been contemplating. As I prepare to invest tens of thousands in current equipment (robotic total stations, new GPS), our hourly billing structure no longer makes sense – at least not at the same rates – because we would be giving away significant value. Hourly billing is also cumbersome to administer.
  • Thank you for the email Mr. Jeffress, those are some very interesting statistics.  As a young surveyor myself I'm curious to see how the professional landscape will change over the next 10-15 years.
  • Charging a percentage of the real estate or project value is something that I have been a proponent of for several years.  However, I've run into a large amount of push-back both by clients and from within the industry.  The debate of what percentage is appropriate as well as how to implement such a system whenever competitors in the area are still willing to charge low/reduced rates for a bare minimum service comes up frequently.  What are your thoughts on ways to implement that practice as a standard? [Dr. Jeffress response: I have heard from some surveyors who have been checking their fees (calculated on an hourly basis) with the appraised value of the surveyed land. They tell me these comparisons come out at about the 1% level. I believe we are worth double that, but the market needs to be educated on how much value we bring to our clients. A good comparison would be to compare say a 2% survey fee to the relators 6% fee and also compare the liability attached to each service.]
  • I know many surveyors support your point of charging a percentage of land or project value as a fee. What no one has done is suggest a method of getting that established.
    When many surveyors are making a pretty good living with high volume, fixed price, house and lot surveys, and are not TSPS members because they don't want to hear discussions about performing surveys better, and how to price their work in meetings, among other issues. Doing a $ 375. survey including tax, or plus tax on a half million dollar house doesn't make sense to many people, but they're being done, and mostly, not well at all. And the title companies don't care about quality as long as they can quote the price of a survey. They just want the surveyor to report what easements affect or don't affect the property and what improvements are there to the satisfaction of a lender. Realtors are the worst opponents about realistic survey fees, especially about percentage fees, and yet, they live by percentages to establish their own fees.
    I look forward to hearing more from you on the subject!
  • Thank you for producing this useful information and in particular for sharing it with the full population of RPLS in the state. The good and bad news for those of us over 65; our fees are up and so is our age. The increase in the sales price of real estate systematically affords an increase in fees for the related professions without complaint from the buyers or sellers but ‘oh how they howl’ if the cost of the survey increases one dollar per acre.
  • I have made it a personal agenda to educate the public.  I would rather people respect me for what I do than despise me for the same.  I had a friend of my dad jump all over me because I discovered a vacancy that completely cut the public road from his property.  It was like he was accusing me of creating it.  It wasn’t until I explained that I was only there as a fact finder and just presenting it (plus explaining that the surveyor who surveyed his tract and his title company should have discovered the same) that he backed off his argument.  I never got an apology but that is alright.  He is smarter now and knows what he needs to look for next time he hires a surveyor.
  • These are interesting thoughts and you have valid points. I will not engage in price fixing either by setting rates or agreeing to an approach for determining fees, but you might consider the following as my observations of things I have seen.
    The cost of performing a survey and the value of a survey are unrelated issues.
    The cost of performing a survey has no relation to:
    o    the gross area of the tract
    o    the value of the dirt
    o    the value of the improvements on the land
    o    the surveyor’s relationship to the client, or
    o    the likelihood of future work.
    The cost of performing a survey is governed by:
    o    complexity of the historical records (number of adjoining properties and overlapping rights)
    o    complexity of the physical conditions of the property (brush or terrain, etc.)
    o    proximity of the property to the surveyor (travel time)
    o    number of corners
    o    length of perimeter
    o    character/density of improvements along the perimeter
    o    hostility of the adjoining property holder
    o    cost of personnel and equipment
    o    cost of liability…$20,000 deductible divided by number of surveys per error plus annual fee.
    The value of a survey has two separate numbers:
    o    value to client/property owner
    o    value to surveyor
    Various surveyors value a survey in various ways. The two most common ideas are:
    o    Full cost of work in first assignment on a property.
    o    Get part of the cost on the first time the property is surveyed and then make up the difference on updates. I’ve lost a lot of jobs to this approach. It also leads to the temptation to only do part of the work now and clean it up later.
    Good luck with thinking through these points. I don’t have time to flesh them out for you today. [Dr. Jeffress comment: This is the first response that shows the RPLS has put in a lot of thought towards estimating where the costs lie in performing a survey and where the value lies from both the client and surveyor’s point of view. As far as the value is concerned, just about all surveys supply the client with information which is used to reduce risk for the client or to increase wealth stored within the real estate’s value for the client.]
  • I'm not necessarily sure that the problem is that an hourly rate is offered as much as what the hourly rate is.
    Other professionals utilize an hourly rate schedule (Attorneys, Engineers, Architects, etc.) for some of their services as well. In some, very vague and long-term projects, I actually prefer to use an hourly rate.
    I believe the underlying problem to be that the general public does not recognize value in our services because there are too many Licensed Surveyors who "create" problems due to their gross negligence. This problem (I believe) is compounded by a slough of issues which plague our industry as well:
    1) The general public has no way to determine if a surveyor is proficient in his/her profession (other than word of mouth).
    2) The Board is painfully understaffed to handle the filed complaints. Many do not even report complaints. (I have filed 2 this year and can not get a return call or email from Tony Estrada. If I can't get any response, why even report?)
    3) We, as professionals, are not allowed to advise our clients of a competitors reputation.
    Since the general public does not recognize the value, I believe they form their decision upon 2 things: Expedience and Price. We can talk all we want about educating the client, but in truth, most of them do not care. We are all licensed.
    Please don't get me wrong. I think our rates are way too low. This being said, I believe until some of our problems are fixed the market will not allow a meaningful price increase. Even if the market would allow, I am sure our competitors who supply a substandard product would not.
    If we as a profession want to be respected by the public so the public will recognize our value and not scoff at the idea of paying a higher rate for our services, I believe we need to provide the public with a consistent and quality product across the board.
    I am in favor of increasing our licensing fees to $1,500/year to give the board an influx of cash to allow them more staff to handle complaints. I am also in favor of TSPS "policing" some of it's members. I think it should mean something to be a member of TSPS.
    Anyway, I got a little carried away on my rant. Very interesting topic.
  • I was registered in 1981 and am part of the bubble of surveyors over 60.  The reason for the bubble is not that we have been passing less surveyors each year but  a result of the 2000 plus engineers that were granted their license without exam between 1979 and 1980.  As this group retires (or dies before retirement as is the case with most surveyors) the median age should move to a point more inline with other professions.
  • What a fantastic article. I have been preaching this for some time and have even mentioned it at TSPS Seminars about charging percentages of sales or percentages of a project, like the engineering community and realtors do. I have gotten scolded each time for bringing this up during seminars because it was supposedly “unethical “to talk about this in these forums.
  • I am glad you are taking this approach because it truly is a fantastic opportunity to raise our industry up to a higher level with respect to compensation for our services. I am proud of you for writing such a great article on this subject because no one else is going to help us raise the bar, only our industry can help our cause.
  • I introduced this when I was chapter president back in the high 80’s or low 90’s.  My idea was for us to charge a small percentage of the cost of every sale just like the realtors do. Nobody listened. I am still for it because I feel we are underpaid for our services and the requirements that every survey requires. This needs to become a law and enforced by every lending institution.
  • Great email.  But it will never happen!!!
    Still too many surveyors out there that are willing just give it away and will continue the practice of structuring their fees to fit what the client expects.
  • Always interesting to see the trending age of professional surveyors.
    Have you ever tried to draw a comparison to other states? It might be interesting to see if they experienced such a significant reduction in numbers related to changing requirements.
    I believe you lead a wonderful program and have enjoyed working with students of your program, but was never convinced that requiring a four-year degree was going to elevate the profession in the eyes of all in related industry.
    Do you believe the sharp decline in numbers is directly related to this requirement or a combination of factors?
    Also do you have data on how many of the 50-70+ received their License through testing? or what I call the pass out years, where Engineers could get and RPLS simply by asking and paying a small administrative fee.
    Re. transition to charging based on the value of the project; sounds great on the surface, to be able to balance our fee to the exposure, but I have no experience doing so and have many questions.
    Do you believe this is attainable without some regulation by either the board or state?
    If achieved, is there a fear of being perceived as homogenous?
    Percentage of Value, according to local CAD or project estimates? based on a sliding scale as project value goes up?
    I would love to know more about how this would work, what it would take to put it in place and what the positives/negatives might be.
    Right now there is a wide range of pricing based on perceived value, which segregates the profession based on expertise.
    Please elaborate or point me in the direction of existing literature on this subject.
    Thank you for your continued dedication to the Survey Profession. [Dr. Jeffress comment: There is no data at the TBPLS pertaining to the grandfathered Engineers obtaining RPLS licenses. The questions you raise should be discussed among all RPLS Surveyors. While I advocate an ad-valorem fees, it is up to the firm or the profession to choose the range of percentages used to set fees for various surveying services.]
  • Observing your chart does not surprise me.  Each time I attend a seminar I look about and see no young folks picking up the gauntlet to carry on with my profession.  I can understand why.  Until we demonstrate to the public our worth, we will always be that necessary thing that engineers would like to see go away.  After all, we have GIS to establish boundary so why do we need a surveyor?  Why would a person with a four-year degree choose a profession that has such a low monetary value.  The public has no understanding of what we do or how!  We surround ourselves with high tech equipment and applications and chalk it up as necessary to business.  We do not compensate ourselves, yet the learning curve climbs more to the vertical each year.
    We surrender our electronic data to clients with little regard as to its true value.  Engineers and architects happily accept our data and modify it for their use with little respect for the surveyor.
    Most surveyors I talk with see no problem letting the client have electronic data.  The client paid for the services rendered and not the intellectual data.  I think that needs to be compensated separately.
  • Would you happen to know the breakdown of the ones that are registered?  Those that are not actively working in the private sector, such as dual licensed engineers, teachers/professors and so on.  That would be interesting to know. [Dr. Jeffress response: The TBPLS does not keep the details that you are asking about. They do have a separate list of Inactive RPLS, mainly retired surveyors who do not practice and who want to keep the RPLS title. TBPLS also has a list of LSLS, however these folks are also included in the active RPLS list, which included date of birth. I use just the year of birth for my analysis.
    Sorry, I cannot answer your questions.]
  • This is a very good article/letter and I totally agree with your analysis.  We, as Professional Land Surveyors, should definitely move away from hourly charges to a percentage of property value and/or construction project cost.  It should be common knowledge among surveyors that "we" are the ones, who most likely, will hold the greatest liability in most, if not all, land purchases and/or construction site surveys.
    Realtors were smart enough to do this years ago and probably have ,what I believe to be, the least liability of all, unless they knowingly lie about the facts of a property.  I am in no way condemning the realtors, but it seems that they have a "little" more on the ball than surveyors do.
    However, I do fault some realtors for not representing their client's best interest at times, especially when they recommend a surveyor that is not only known to be the quickest, but also gives the cheapest price.  In short, we may be our own worst enemies.  
    We must come to a realization that land surveyors provide a vital and valuable service to the community and we should be proud enough of our work and profession to charge a "professional" fee.  This, in turn, might encourage more young people to enter the field of land surveying and to have the desire to become "Professional Land Surveyors", where the monetary rewards could be comparable to that of other professionals, such as lawyers, engineers and doctors.
    Thank you for your time and letter.
  • God bless you.  I thought I was the only one!
  • Being one of the surveyors in the 70+ group, I contribute some of the loss in surveyors to the 4-year degree requirement.  Having a PE license and a degree in Civil Engineering I know I did not learn surveying in college.  It was an on the ground experience working with a Registered Surveyor.  I was not in favor of the 4 year degree requirement in the beginning and I am still not in favor of the requirement.   I remember during my time serving on the State Board of Registration and seeing applicants from all type and sizes of firms.  My experience was the applicant working for the smaller surveying firm where they were exposed to all of the work did much better on the exam and many passed on the first time.  I know of several young men working in the surveying profession without degrees and because of finances will never be able to be registered.  We are doing them and the profession an injustice.  In the Southeast part of Texas if a person receives and 4 year degree they are able to work in one of the many chemical plants/refineries and make much more than some of our registered surveyors.  The PLANTS are looking for the person with the degree.  Thank you for your work and the effort in collecting and presenting the data. [Dr. Jeffress response: How long does it take to learn surveying by just working in the field under a licensed surveyor? Does learning under a practicing surveyor go into the statistics of measurement, calibration of scientific instruments, adjustment computations, least squares adjustment with redundant observations, astronomy, geodesy, map projections, computations in state plane coordinates, legal cases resolving boundary disputes resulting in precedent setting outcomes, photogrammetry, cartography, computer aided design software, and on and on? (All of the above topics that are underlined have come up during my own expert witness testimony in court cases.) I believe any one of these topics can crop up in a dispute that would see an RPLS defending their survey in a District Court. How long would it take to learn all these critical aspects of surveying using on-the-job training and to be able to effectively defend our survey results in court?
    I believe society now demands a minimum of a four-year degree when dealing with the evidence, both in the legal records and on the ground, that defines the extent and title to real estate, which represents the largest store of tangible wealth for any developed free market economy.
    We have had graduates from our four-year degree program go from high school to passing the RPLS exams in six years (rare, but it does happen occasionally). Can on-the-job training match the required education and training to be a minimally qualified RPLS in the same amount of time?
    I agree, it is possible to become a well qualified surveyor working under a licensed professional. I believe this process would take about 15 years on average.
    The surveying profession does not have the time nor the income to support an on-the-job education system.
    Also, why do Civil Engineers need a four-year degree and not undertake on-the-job education and training?
    I am sorry I do not agree with your reason for the low numbers and age of our RPLS. I believe the main reason we are not attracting bright young people into our profession is that we do not offer them competitive incomes. This comes from not charging our clients enough for the wealth we are creating for our clients.
    I do very much appreciate the time and effort you took to email me your thoughts.]
  • [Totally] agree
  • This is a long topic that needs to be discussed.
  • Thanks for sharing this info, I do agree.
    Also, in my opinion, if ALL Surveyors, regardless of of the type of Surveys they perform, would JUSTIFY doing quality work on every project they would certainly have to be compensated accordingly for doing better work, instead of worrying about being undercut by the competition and adjusting their fees to "align" to their competitors.
    There simply is not enough Surveyors and Survey help to meet the demands and by Justifying quality work in every phase we could also justify compensating our help better and hopefully attract more and better qualified people to this learned trade aka (Profession).
  • Gary, Thank You Sir. Paragraph four should be our mantra. Paragraph 5 should be our creed.
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