Land Surveying Schools in Colorado

The act of measuring two- and three-dimensional aspects of land has been recorded in human history since ancient Egypt, and the necessity for capable land surveying professionals will exist as long as humankind continues to manipulate the world around them. Land surveying is a complex skill, requiring tactical knowledge of geometry, mathematics, engineering, and the law, all in the service of accurately defining and recording land features and boundaries. Because of this complexity, a person interested in pursuing a career in land surveying may be curious about the educational pathways required to enter the field as well as the career prospects available after graduation.

In this article we will cover:

What to expect at land surveying school

Engineering programs provide a strong educational foundation for a career in land surveying, and the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS) recommends enrolling in a program accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). This accreditation ensures educational programs meet necessary standards to prepare students to enter various STEM fields, including land surveying and Geomatics–a modern term that includes the study and use of geographic information system technologies (GIS). Prospective land surveyors should expect to take courses in advanced mathematics (upper-level algebra, analytical geometry, calculus, statistics); computerized analytical tools and programs (GIS, remote sensing, image analysis, computer-aided drafting); as well as focus on humanities courses to understand historical and modern statutes on Boundary Laws. The most effective land-surveying programs will also include robust field training to familiarize students with the use of conventional and robotic surveying equipment.

You’ll want a Bachelor’s degree

To become a land-surveyor, the most likely pathway includes a Bachelor’s of Science degree; although there are also accredited Associate’s degrees, particularly in cities and states with high demand for land surveyors, like the Carbondale, Colorado. Students wishing to specialize further or advance the science itself can even opt to pursue a Master’s degree beyond the initial course of study. An Associate’s degree requires two years of full-time study, a Bachelor’s degree needs four years of full-time study, and a Master’s degree takes at least two additional years after the completion of the Bachelor’s degree. The cost of these programs varies by degree type, region, type of school, residency status, number of credits pursued and many other factors, including the possibility of scholarships awarded by the National Society of Professional Surveyors Foundation (NSPSF). When considering the cost of a program, it is important to remember that the persistent and ongoing need for land surveyors provides a positive outlook for career options and lifelong earning potential.

Fundamentals of Surveying Exam

Regardless of the exact educational pathway, at the completion of the academic studies, prospective surveyors will need to sit for the Fundamentals of Surveying examination. After passing this exam, you will be eligible to become a land survey intern, which will enable you to sit for the state-specific examination to become a licensed professional. In Colorado, the Board of Architects, Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors determines the licensing requirements for land-surveyors. For those professionals wishing to forgo a formal degree before sitting for the licensing exam, options may be available to substitute supervised work experience in lieu of credits earned.

Online land surveying schools

Because land surveying is an occupation with significant applications around the globe, your home location shouldn’t deter you from pursuing a degree in land surveying. Below are two of the top online programs for studying land surveying.

University of Maine

With more land than people to fill it, Maine has reason to devote resources to the education of future land surveyors, and the University of Maine doesn’t want their semi-remote location to hinder prospective students. Their land surveying options include an undergraduate degree and certificate, a graduate-level certificate, and two graduate degrees with concentrations in Surveying Engineering Technology.

Oregon State University

Oregon State University boasts over 100 online, accredited degree options via its E-Campus platform. Although it doesn’t have a land surveying-specific online degree, you could enroll in the Construction Engineering Management degree through the College of Engineering. This degree would place you in a strong position to utilize the skill of land surveying specifically in the construction industry, surveying job sites, helping to clarify property lines, and more.

Land surveying schools in Colorado

Colorado offers the perfect landscape for those interested in taking their first steps into this active field. With a booming tourism industry and consistent population growth, the need for land-use development and natural resource management continues to grow, as does demand for care and control of green spaces and preservation of historical sites. Land surveying intersects all of these social and political topics, and students studying at Colorado schools receive a unique perspective into the variety of specializations within land surveying.

Colorado Mesa University Tech, Grand Junction

The vocational arm of Colorado Mesa University, CMU Tech offers both an Associate of Applied Science degree (AAS) and Technical Certificate in Land Surveying and Geomatics. A hidden gem in the rocky expanse of western Colorado, CMU Tech offers unparalleled access to the outdoors, perfect for the personal and professional explorations of any budding land surveyor.

University of Colorado, Denver

Nestled into the vibrant capital city of Denver, Colorado, UCD offers advanced degrees in Geomatics Engineering and Geographic Information Systems. Students can obtain either a Master’s level certificate, a Master’s of Engineering, or a Master’s of Science, specializing in GIS and land-surveying. The availability of this advanced degree speaks to the booming career field that exists in the Rocky Mountain region, with surveyors needed for industries as varied as environmental protection, land development, resource management, and historical preservation.

Colorado State University, Fort Collins

Located in (what feels like) the microbrewery capital of the world, Colorado State University has built a program where you can explore your interest for land surveying alongside many other degree options, through Geospatial Centroid, the university’s home for all things related to mapping and geographic information systems. Students can access a handful of GIS courses at either the undergraduate or graduate level, applying the credits directly to many other majors. This would be a great option for students curious about the world of land-surveying and GIS.

Colorado land surveyors

If you made the choice to study land surveying in Colorado, you probably already know you would like to put down career roots in the state as well. Fresh air, clean water, access to the outdoors, an ever-expanding job market: what else could you ask for? The tourism board in the state even launched a “Come to Life” campaign in 2018 to highlight the ways that Colorado makes you feel truly alive. If you already know the Colorado life is the life you want, you and your land surveying degree will find a welcome home at many Colorado firms, including the ones linked here.

Roaring Fork Engineering

When you live in a town where the highway dead-ends six months of the year due to snowfall, you know you need a creative and resilient civil engineering company to confront the challenges of building in the stunning Rocky Mountains. Roaring Fork Engineering (RFE) is responsive to both the needs of their clients and the environment around Aspen, Colorado; and the team definitely follows the motto work hard, play hard. The company pays for its employees’ ski passes every year, and the CEO hosts an annual heli-skiing trip to celebrate the team effort and results. If you know you want your career as a land surveyor to come with a healthy balance in the rest of your life, check out the Careers page at RFE.

Central Rockies Land Surveying

If you want to scope out the careers in another mountain-town gem in Colorado, check out Central Rockies Land Surveying in Salida. The firm has been operating for 18 years, with clients ranging from the Colorado Department of Transportation to residential homeowners. You can check out their testimonials for customer reviews to get a sense of whether this firm would be the right career fit for you.

Core Consultants, Inc.

If the urban bustle is more your speed than tranquil mountains and snow-capped peaks, Denver hosts at least 17 civil engineering firms, with plenty of room for trained land surveyors. Core Consultants, Inc places relationships in the heart of their values. They operate in the sectors of energy, land development, and public infrastructure, and they offer both land surveying and civil engineering services. Ranking highly in several local “Best Places to Work” lists, Core Consultants, Inc shares the same ethos of employee well-being with Roaring Fork Engineering above.

Specializations within Land Surveying

Wherever you land after graduation and licensing, know that your options are almost limitless. Below are just a few of the many specializations within the land surveying and civil engineering field. 

  • Geodetic Surveyor or Geospatial Analyst
  • Auto CAD Technician
  • Hydrographic Surveyor
  • Mineral and Waste Management
  • Planning and Construction
  • Environmental Protection
  • Forensic surveying for land ownership disputes

Good luck exploring!

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