“Surveying is a skilled professional position, it’s not just a vocational job,” said John Margotta, Vice President of Land Surveying.
Often times people have their own ideas and misconceptions of what surveyors do and what it takes to be a surveyor. It’s not an easy profession, and it takes a certain skillset and personality to be successful in this field.
“You really need to have a Type A personality to be surveyor, along with skillset —communication skills being one, and at least an associate’s degree in either math or science,” Margotta said.
Surveyors interact with multiple different types of people daily including engineers, architects, job superintendents, developers, the public, landowners, and people buying or selling property. This is one of the reasons surveyors need to have excellent communication skills, so they can interact efficiently with a variety of people.
Surveyors also set the foundation for all the engineering disciplines to design projects. They are the start of the process before passing it on to civil engineers and then other engineering disciplines at BHB. Sometimes the engineers have never seen the project site in person so they need to know what it looks like and all the details that come with it.
“Surveyors are the eyes of the engineers,” Margotta said.
Surveyors aren’t just calculating and measuring data in the field, they are also on the lookout for monuments, survey markers, and any small details that they notice while out on a job site. Sometimes they will find historical fences or survey markers from the 1800s or even an old gravesite. These things are important to note while surveying because some can cause project sites to shut down for investigation, or even ruled non-buildable.
Being observant and paying attention to detail turns into “the survey mindset” gradually over time, and with experience in the field. The survey mindset means always being vigilant everywhere you go and noticing things that most people would not. An example is passing by buildings or neighborhoods and thinking about where the property lines are or looking for monuments.
Margotta said he recently took a trip to Disney World and saw many survey monuments/markers, but they had a Mickey Mouse head on them or were hidden to the eye so most people wouldn’t know what they are or even where to look for them.
Surveyors can also be considered similar to archaeologists and investigators, not just because they discover hidden monuments or artifacts, but because they are researchers that have to look back at history for answers to monuments or artifacts they find. They use The General Land Office to look up past surveyors’ notes, and some even some trace back to Davy Crockett and Stephen F. Austin. Crockett and Austin were a few of many who were surveyors back in the early days.
With surveying tracing so far back in history, surveyors prove to be a necessity in society and are the foundation for everything that people see.
“Everything you see is there because of surveyors,” said Dave Horsburgh, Senior Survey Technician. “When you drive down the highway and get on the on-ramp and off-ramp, the way it’s put together is because of land surveyors.”
Horsburgh explained that one of his favorite things about surveying is driving past project sites that are built and completed, knowing that he was a part of that project from the beginning.
“It’s a rewarding feeling to be able to see that,” Horsburgh said.
Horsburgh explained that most people don’t realize that everything they see is located where it is because of surveying, and that includes buildings, property lines, fences, roads, etc.
Surveyors play an important role in the community and a part of the team here at BHB. Infrastructure and property lines wouldn’t be where they are today if it weren’t for surveyors.