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NOC Code: NOC Code: 2154 Occupation: Land Surveyors
Occupation Description: Occupation Description:
Land surveyors plan, direct and conduct legal surveys to establish the location of real property boundaries, contours and other natural or human-made features, and prepare and maintain cross-sectional drawings, official plans, records and documents pertaining to these surveys. They are employed by federal, provincial and municipal governments, private sector land surveying establishments, real estate development, natural resource, engineering and construction firms, or they may be self-employed. Land surveyors plan, direct and conduct legal surveys to establish the location of real property boundaries, contours and other natural or human-made features, and prepare and maintain cross-sectional drawings, official plans, records and documents pertaining to these surveys. They are employed by federal, provincial and municipal governments, private sector land surveying establishments, real estate development, natural resource, engineering and construction firms, or they may be self-employed.

  • Click on any of the Essential Skills to view sample workplace tasks for this occupation.
  • Skill levels are assigned to tasks: Level 1 tasks are the least complex and level 4 or 5 tasks (depending upon the specific skill) are the most complex. Skill levels are associated with workplace tasks and not the workers performing these tasks.
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Table will display the Skill Level for the Noc specified
Essential Skills Essential Skills Levels
Reading Text Reading Text 1 2 3 4 5
Writing Writing 1 2 3 4
Document Use Document Use 1 2 3 4 5
Computer Use Computer Use 1 2 3
Oral Communication Oral Communication 1 2 3
Money Math Money Math 1 2 3
Scheduling or Budgeting and Accounting Scheduling or Budgeting and Accounting 1 2 3 4
Measurement and Calculation Measurement and Calculation 1 2 3 4 5
Data Analysis Data Analysis 1 2
Numerical Estimation Numerical Estimation 1 2
Job Task Planning and Organizing Job Task Planning and Organizing 1 2 3
Decision Making Decision Making 1 2 3
Problem Solving Problem Solving 1 2 3
Finding Information Finding Information 1 2 3 4
Critical Thinking Critical Thinking 1 2 3 4


  • The skill levels represented in the above chart illustrate the full range of sample tasks performed by experienced workers and not individuals preparing for or entering this occupation for the first time.
  • Note that some occupational profiles do not include all Numeracy and Thinking Essential Skills.

If you would like to print a copy of the chart and sample tasks, click on the "Print Occupational Profile" button at the top of the page.


Reading Text
  • Read notes about survey locations, contact names and job priorities on survey plan labels and sign-out sheets. Read the notes to plan your daily schedule, and determine equipment, tools and additional documents such as surveys and land registry deeds they require. (1)
  • Read email from clients, colleagues and co-workers to obtain technical support, schedules and directions. For example, read email from supervisors to gather additional details about survey sites and confirm meeting times. (1)
  • Read brief descriptive and explanatory notes in survey technicians' daily activity reports. (2)
  • Read surveying magazines and publications to stay informed about industry issues, activities, technologies and techniques. (3)
  • Read minutes from executive committee meetings. (3)
  • Read notification memos and case law bulletins to stay current on case law rulings. Assess the information for relevancy and apply it to survey evidence and boundary evaluations. (3)
  • Read equipment and software manuals for technical instructions on troubleshooting, installation and use. (3)
  • Read project proposals to understand surveying project requirements. Technical knowledge is needed to interpret the legal and technical terminology. Read the proposals for details, scope, timelines, finances, objectives and challenges of projects. Interpret text that is dense with legal and content-specific terminology to clearly understand the requirements and objectives of proposed projects. (4)
  • Read and integrate information about boundaries in field notes, survey plans, and historical documents such as old, cryptic land deeds when completing boundary line retracements. Use the case laws to evaluate and weight evidence to draw boundary line conclusions. The material requires specialized knowledge of legal and technical terms. (5)
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Writing
  • Write brief descriptions in notebooks to record physical characteristics and details about properties. Reference the information when preparing job quotes. (1)
  • Write memos and email to colleagues and co-workers requesting or providing information, coordinating schedules and assigning tasks. (2)
  • Write single page letters such as requests for survey plan adjustments to regulatory offices. The letters outline legal descriptions and reasons for the requested change. (2)
  • Complete one or more sections of incident reports. Write several paragraphs to describe the incident, any causal factors, resulting damage and corrective actions taken or recommended. (3)
  • Prepare legal documents and form letters such as 'Subdivision Approval' forms to submit to local authorities. Complete several paragraphs providing details such as encumbrances and covenants. (3)
  • Write letters such as formal notification letters to property owners. For example, land surveyors write letters outlining their decisions such as placing severances on homeowner's property. The letters are dense with technical references to withstand legal challenges. (3)
  • Write descriptive observations to accompany field sketches and data in field notes. The notes detail property characteristics and measurements. Clarity in detail is important as field notes become legal documents when disputes arise. (3)
  • Write reports to supervisors recommending the purchase of specific equipment or suggesting procedure changes. Use the reports to support and justify decisions. (3)
  • Write technical articles for trade publication and association newsletters. For example, write articles about how to evaluate boundary evidence and how to proceed with requests for legal boundary changes. The intent of the articles is to share best practice principles and techniques for applying case laws and evidence. (4)
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Document Use
  • Enter brief text, dates and codes on file labels and sign out sheets. (1)
  • Locate property dimensions, locations, codes, encumbrances and severances on deed registration forms, land deeds and legal boundary certificates. (2)
  • Locate dates, quantities and costs on invoices, timesheets and expense forms. (2)
  • Refer to assembly drawings including pictures and diagrams when assembling surveying equipment such as total stations onto tripods. (3)
  • Enter hours, dates and locations onto worksheets and work schedules when coordinating tasks for staff and with co-workers and colleagues such as planners, engineers and architects. (3)
  • Complete reporting forms, such as those for expense and survey estimates, by checking off items and entering dimensions, location, costs and brief descriptions. Synthesize information from other sources to complete the forms. (3)
  • Scan longitudes, latitudes and elevations on data sheets and on the display screens of measuring devices. Verify survey data when determining final measurements for placing monuments. Depending on the complexity of the job, there can be several hundred sets of coordinates to process. (3)
  • Use contour or elevation graphs to analyze the topography of an area and to plot it onto scale plans. (3)
  • Record brief notes, sketches and measurement data into field notes to detail physical characteristics of surveyed areas such as boundary markers, buildings, fences, trees and large boulders. Use technical knowledge and experience when completing these legal survey documents. (4)
  • Examine survey plans to confirm the placement or retracement of boundary lines, buildings and other physical characteristics. Use supplementary documents such as existing surveys, drawings, aerial photographs, topographical maps, land titles and other historical information as evidence to make an evaluation. (5)
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Computer Use
  • Use graphic program features to modify and overlay aerial photos with scale drawings, crop images, adjust sizes and create presentations. (2)
  • Use computer and software applications. For example, use Coordination Geometry software to enter surveying data; global positioning systems to locate survey points and coordinates and geographical information systems (GIS) to access data and mapping storage systems. Use GIS features such as magnifying tools and picture overlays. (2)
  • Use Internet browsers to locate technical information on websites, access information on databases and satellite reading software. Upload and download maps, surveys and information using the File Transfer Protocol. (2)
  • Create and format spreadsheets. Use features such as formulae, data sorting, and display features including graphs and tables. (3)
  • Use communication software. For example, land surveyors use programs to send and receive email and attachments. They maintain address lists and distribution lists. In addition, they may use Outlook calendar to track tasks, schedules, meetings and appointments and other functions such as spell check, alarms and 'out of office' email management systems. (3)
  • Use computer-assisted design, manufacturing and machining. For example, use programs such as Micro Survey and AutoCAD to create and verify survey plans. Use features such as image insets, image rotation, and cross-sectional drawings. Select different types of lines, curves and angles to insert into construct drawings. Adjust sizes, lengths and curves to represent the area being surveyed into three-dimensional formats. Format the final survey plans by inserting text boxes and adding data and textual details. (3)
  • Use databases. For example, enter data into geographical information systems or download data from global positioning systems to run queries. Export the data to spreadsheets for viewing. (3)
  • Use word processing. For example, land surveyors use word processing programs to write and format letters, memos and reports. They use features such as page numbering, tables, graphs, and headers and footers to format the reports. They also embed illustrations. (3)
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Oral Communication
  • Speak with property owners to request access to properties when completing surveys. (1)
  • Lead field crew discussions and present technical and safety information. Provide directions and instructions to field crew and office staff. For example, land surveyors lead discussions about efficient methods for removing brush and trees, and locating points where direct lines of sight are not possible. (2)
  • Interact with co-workers and colleagues to discuss projects and coordinate job tasks. (2)
  • Discuss new products such as global positioning systems with suppliers. Discuss technical features and negotiate purchase or lease terms. (2)
  • Discuss equipment purchases with supervisors. Outline the benefits of purchasing specific equipment by clearly communicating your case to obtain approval. (2)
  • Discuss surveying methods and procedures for larger jobs with supervisors. (2)
  • Share information with clients to develop an understanding of survey project requirements, timelines and procedures. (2)
  • Consult colleagues to discuss boundary line evidence when working on cases in which the survey outcomes may result in legal disputes. (3)
  • Interact with clients and other property owners to resolve property conflicts such as fence line locations. Be diplomatic and tactful to maintain positive relationships while settling disputes. (3)
  • Negotiate changes to existing survey plans with colleagues and co-workers. Present your justifications in support of the changes you recommended. (3)
  • Participate in group discussions such as weekly engineering services meetings. Express opinions and provide project management updates. Help guide decisions, coordinate tasks and distribute work. (3)
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Money Math
  • Prepare and verify invoices, expense forms and timesheets. Calculate costs, using established rates, and applicable taxes. (2)
  • Calculate costs for surveying quotes or bills, including mark-ups or discounts for labour, equipment, supplies and registration fees. Apply taxes and verify amounts. (3)
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Scheduling or Budgeting and Accounting
  • Monitor project hours and schedules to meet deadlines and budget costing. (1)
  • Determine labour requirements for staff, and subcontractor timelines for surveying projects. Set job tasks and schedules for staff you directly supervise. (2)
  • Complete cost analysis of surveying equipment, such as digital sounders, to determine the best value based on cost and features. (3)
  • Prepare and monitor detailed budgets such as annual department budgets, or large surveying project budgets such as boundary and lot lines for large subdivisions. For example, establish critical timelines and schedule the activities of staff, subcontractors and consultants. Monitor human resources, materials and equipment expenses to ensure projects are within budget, and adjust schedules and budget lines to accommodate unexpected delays and costs. (4)
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Measurement and Calculation
  • Measure and record the distance between two points such as monuments and buildings. (1)
  • Calculate the surface area of land parcels, often converting between metres and feet when working between old and new survey plans. (2)
  • Create scale survey plans of land parcels using scaled measurements to calculate angles and distances. (3)
  • Set-up and use specialized electronic equipment such as theodolites to obtain measurements of horizontal and vertical angles. (3)
  • Calculate the direction, angle and length of lines, often using principles of triangulation, to locate intersection points and to determine station coordinates. Determine the station coordinates at the beginning of a vertical curve on a highway using approaching and departing grades, elevation and vertical curve requirements as factors in the equation. Calculate parallel offset lines when completing pipeline surveys. Calculate centrelines, shoulder lines and slope stakes when measuring sloped terrain. (4)
  • Use trigonometry and geometry to make indirect calculations of measurements that cannot be directly taken, such as vector calculations and analysis, to determine the curve angle of roads, and the easement distance of a porch or eavestroughing. (5)
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Data Analysis
  • Compare field coordinates and measurements to plan and verify the accuracy of measurements and data. (1)
  • Calculate average measurements such as height, distance and elevations, and coordinate readings such as longitude and latitude using multiple measurements to determine and verify that the survey measurements meet specifications or acceptable tolerances. (2)
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Numerical Estimation
  • Estimate the duration of surveying projects considering the number of hours based on either two and four person crews, the complexity of the job, the weather conditions and the characteristics of the terrain. (2)
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Job Task Planning and Organizing
  • Land surveyors receive projects and deadlines from their supervisors but are responsible for tasking and prioritizing their duties to complete surveys on schedule. Self-employed land surveyors set and prioritize their own schedules. They work on multiple projects at varying degrees of completion. They are responsible for planning daily, weekly and long-term schedules. They meet with clients, answer phone calls, attend meetings and complete ongoing analysis and review of surveys and survey information. In addition, they deal with daily disruptions. Their work plan is flexible to integrate work crew needs and changing project priorities. They integrate their work plan with work crew, co-workers and colleagues. Land surveyors organize and direct the weekly schedule of work crews, subcontractors and equipment. They collaborate with co-workers, colleagues and clients to develop and implement integrated work plans for larger projects. (3)
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Decision Making
  • Decide not to enter property where personal health and safety may be at risk, such as locations guarded by large dogs or where debris and waste pose health hazards. (1)
  • Decide to accept the position of existing survey monuments or to request new surveys. Consider historical evidence such as survey plans, drawings, field notes and other related information when making decisions. (2)
  • Decide task assignments for field crews to fairly distribute hours and types of work. Consider crews' skill levels, working locations and the complexity of the surveying jobs. (2)
  • Decide to purchase new equipment and computer programs such as total stations, global positioning devices and AutoCAD after completing cost analyses. Consider the price, quality, reputation, functionality, capacity, service plans and warranties offered by the equipment and software manufacturers. (2)
  • Decide what methods and landmarks to use to complete surveys. Consider evidence and measurements from previous surveys, the location of buildings and physical structures such as trees and sloped gradients and the purpose of the survey. Revise decisions constantly to respond to field crew requests for coordinate and measurement adjustments due to unexpected impediments. How and where readings are collected directly affects surveying efficiency and the quality of the final survey plans. (3)
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Problem Solving
  • Face scheduling delays due to unforeseen events such as inclement weather, equipment breakdowns and inaccessible areas. For example, when inclement weather and equipment breakdowns occur reschedule activities, use alternate measurement tools and methods, hire temporary crew and subcontract work to maintain work schedules. (2)
  • You may be denied access to properties by landowners. Negotiate with owners for conditional access. Contact local authorities to assist them in gaining property access if negotiations with property owners fail. (2)
  • Deal with hostile and angry landowners. For example, face landowners who are angry about property damage. Speak with crew leaders and visit work sites to assess damage and negotiate resolutions with landowners. (2)
  • Find improper recording of physical features and missing survey information on survey plans and other land planning documents. This makes it difficult to verify property boundary lines and underground services. For example, you are unable to confirm the location of underground services such as water mains and gas pipes. Consider existing information and data to determine service locations and then complete initial ground searches. (3)
  • Find that particular survey technicians continually fail to obtain accurate data. Review data results and field notes to locate where the technicians are experiencing difficulties. Coach them to correct their surveying techniques and place them with more experienced technicians. In some cases, terminate employment if all previous attempts fail to yield improvements. (3)
  • Find physical features are not properly recorded in previous survey field notes and plans, making it difficult to verify property boundary lines. These discrepancies become more complex on small city lots where little space is available to absorb minor survey adjustments. Speak with experienced city surveyors and read case law to develop strategies for evaluating boundary line evidence for retracement. (3)
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Finding Information
  • Locate property ownership history by accessing information at land title offices. (1)
  • Find information about remote sites by looking at maps and aerial photographs and by talking to colleagues and staff at provincial lands and forest or natural resources departments. (2)
  • Locate technical information and data needed to complete work tasks such as operating surveying equipment and using global positioning systems in equipment manuals, specification sheets and satellite schedules. (2)
  • Draw on and integrate information from land title offices, local authority by-laws and provincial codes and regulations to determine what information to include on survey plans. (3)
  • Locate information from maps, drawings, aerial photographs, existing surveys, field notes, historical documents, land deeds, onsite visits and case law rulings to complete cadastral surveys. Use the information to retrace boundary lines and develop new surveys. (4)
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Critical Thinking
  • Judge the authenticity of boundary monuments and survey plans. Use established criteria and procedures to evaluate and weight evidence such as existing survey plans, field notes and historical information to draw conclusions. Provide proof of evaluation processes, as requests to change survey line locations often require resolution before committees or in court. (2)
  • Evaluate the compatibility of field crew when grouping technicians and assigning tasks. Consider workers' personalities, their experience in the field and their willingness to work in rough terrain. (2)
  • Evaluate the quality and completeness of survey technicians' field notes. Consider the tone, language clarity and descriptive recording of observations, measurements and work performed. (2)
  • Evaluate the quality of survey plans before approving and submitting them to land registry offices. Gather information by reviewing existing surveys, aerial photographs, topographical maps, historical information, reading surveying procedures and viewing direct and indirect measurement data. Use established criteria such as the precision and accuracy of measurement data and its conformity to specifications and surveying standards. Ineffective or faulty evaluations can result in poor quality surveys and problems with land title transfers. (3)
  • Evaluate options for gathering survey data for complex projects such as surveys for dumpsites emitting toxic gas or for proposed rapid bus roadways through densely developed areas. Establish the site specific factors that need to be considered and evaluated during the survey. Gather information from project objectives, land impact studies and environment reports to ensure key factors are accounted for in the survey procedures. Failure to create relevant evaluation criteria can result in poor quality surveys and loss of reputation as content experts as the implications of the work are not always supported due to strongly held contradictory views. As a result it is often a requirement to justify the evaluation criteria and survey options used. (4)
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