Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Autonomy of the Land Surveyor

I have seen and read a number of articles lately that suggest that Land Surveying is a dying profession.  I even read an article suggesting surveying is a trade and the education requirement is killing it.  Although I must say the articles written about how the education requirement is making surveyors experts at being EXACTLY wrong are particularly entertaining.  Therefore not wanting to miss the boat; I thought I would chime in.
     Let us define which parts of surveying are technical and which parts are professional.  Curtis Brown wrote that (I am paraphrasing) mapping and construction layout are functions of Civil Engineering because they are used primarily in the design/build process; therefore these are of a technical/trades nature.  Mr. Brown went on to say that Boundary Surveying requires data gathering, data analysis, and a determination; therefore this is a professional activity.  Backing up this conclusion is the fact that many States license or register Surveyors primarily for boundary surveying activity.
     Now let's discuss the training of surveyor; education versus apprenticeship.  I do not plan to waste a lot of time here but we can all agree education is a good thing.  Education without application is meaningless.  What is the benefit of a wealth of knowledge if there is beneficial application or practical use.  Conversely with apprenticeship; what is the benefit of training if a situation develops that requires out of the box thinking that the training is ill prepared for?  Many State jurisdictions that license surveyors have adopted an education requirement; I believe it is now around 45 of the 50 states or there about.  Most substitute education for experience concerning the licensing requirement.  I believe this is a mistake.  I argue the education requirement should be on top of the experience requirement.  Not a substitute for it.  Education cannot replace experience and vice versa.  We must have both.
     After the "In-Training" status is achieved through testing I believe the LSIT should have his work reviewed by all of the PLS's that recommended them for licensure.  Not just the employer.  I would not allow experience beyond boundary experience.   This will bother some; but it is boundary that the states license for.  Finally I believe the professional examination should be a comprehensive review of the candidate(s) individually by a committee of professionals duly licensed, with unblemished records, and considerable experience.  This examination should be an oral interview after a written examination is successfully completed.  I once had a mentor in Colorado tell me "congratulations on passing the the PLS exam; all it means is you scored better than 70% on a test."  It took me a while to figure out what he meant.
     Our profession is not dying.  We are a profession in transition.  As our younger candidates become better educated and the technology available them becomes more highly evolved; we will continue to see less human interaction on the trade side of surveying (mapping and construction layout) through drones and machine controls.  However we shall see an increase in the professional side of surveying as the land surveyors take their rightful position as caretakers of the cadastre.  Our profession is evolving and as it does there will be some discomfort.  However the sky is not falling.  As far as the argument concerning the declining number of surveyors; well I see that as a free market issue.  Fewer surveyors; higher demand; higher fees; more surveyors.  There is and will always be equilibrium.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Open the Arizona State Board of Technical Registration

To THOSE Whom Wish to Deregulate the Surveying Profession;

The reasoning behind why we need to regulate the profession is clear to the professional.  However I will attempt to make the reasoning clear:
     1.  Regulation provides a standard of minimum competency to be recognized as ready to practice.
     2.  Regulation enforces a standard of practice set forth by the profession.
     3.  SHOULD provide a standard of continued competency of the profession.  Arizona is now embracing a model of making continuing education a part of the discipline process.  Therefore we are almost there.

What is the impact of the Land Surveyor on Society?  Well our profession does not have the bravado of the public safety professions.  Nor does it have the notoriety of the medical profession.  Or the stature of the sanctimonious design professionals.  The land Surveying profession is a vanguard profession.  The professional surveyor takes the one of largest expenditures in a person's life and shows them where it is; shows them the status of boundary; lets you where the land is; and how much of it there is.  Not very sexy at all.  However most of any individual's personal wealth depends on it.

Nothing is built unless the land it is built on is guaranteed and secured.  Nothing is financed by banks or other lenders unless the land guaranteeing the loan is secured.  Land ownership and land tenure is the basic principle that sets the United States of America apart from most other nations.  Yet it is the Land Surveyor who makes up the thread of the fabric of our land tenure system.  Without the land surveyor to definitively provided the who, what, where, why, when, and how, of a real estate transaction how does the average land owner discern for themselves the intricacies of land ownership.  Land stewardship is more complex than "caveat em tor".  When it comes to land transactions we make the cloudy, clear.  We bring light to dark spaces.  We answer questions that people didnt even know they had.

Therefore the next time you want ask why should Land Surveyors be regulated? Think about what I have said and how it applies before you refinance your house or you buy you next investment property.    

Friday, February 5, 2016

Looking Forward to Spring

OK IT IS OFFICIAL.  I am tired of being cold.  I imagine the guys in the desert feel the same way in September before it cools off in the fall.  just an observation.