Become a Virginia Surveyor
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Contributing Editor: Chuck Dunlap

In Section 54.1.400 of the Code of Virginia, the practice of Land Surveying includes “…surveying of areas for a determination or correction, a description, the establishment or reestablishment of internal and external land., or the determination of topography contours or location of physical improvements, and also includes the planning of land and subdivisions thereof…”. In short, Surveyors provide data relevant to the shape and contour of the Earth’s surface for engineering, mapmaking and construction projects.

A.The first step is to register to sit for the FS Exam.

The Fundamentals of Surveying (FS) exam is the first step in the process to becoming a professional licensed surveyor (P.S.). It is designed for recent graduates and students who are close to finishing an undergraduate surveying degree from an ABET accredited program. However, you may sit for the exam without a surveying degree.* The FS exam is a computer-based exam administered year-round in testing windows at NCEES approved Pearson VUE test centers.

Pursuant to VAC 10-20-300, you may sit for the FS Exam, if you meet one of the following qualifications:

(1) Be enrolled in a board-approved or ABET-accredited surveying or surveying technology curriculum, having 12 months or less remaining before completion of degree requirements, and provide a certificate of good standing from the dean of the school or his designee; or
(2) Having earned an undergraduate degree from a board-approved or ABET-accredited surveying or surveying technology curriculum; or
(3) Have earned a board-approved undergraduate degree related to surveying and possess a minimum of one-year of approved land surveying experience; or
(4) Have earned a board-approved undergraduate degree in a field unrelated to surveying and possess a minimum of two years of surveying related, or
(5) Have earned a board-approved associate’s degree related to surveying and possess a minimum of four years approved land surveying experience; or
(6) Have successfully completed a survey apprenticeship program. The apprenticeship program shall include a minimum of 480 hours of surveying-related classroom instruction with a minimum of six years of approved land surveying experience; or
(7) Have graduated from high school with evidence of successful completion of courses in algebra, geometry and trigonometry, and possess a minimum of eight years of land surveying experience.

B. Pass the FS Exam

The current pass rate is under 50%, but our Virginia Association of Surveyors offers classes to help students pass the exam with flying colors.

C. Receive SIT Designation

Apply to the APELSCIDLA Board to receive SIT designation.

D. Apply to sit for PS and Virginia Exams

The PS exam tests your ability to practice the surveying profession competently and is comprised of two parts: the first being the 6-hour NCEES administered PS exam, and the second being the APELSCIDLA administered 2-hour Virginia State Specific Exam. Pursuant to 18VAC10-20-310, it is designed for surveyors who have met the requirements of 18VAC10-20-300 described above and have gained at least four years of professional land surveying experience.

E. Additional Land Surveying License Applications

After passing the NCEES PS exam, you may be permitted to sit for the Virginia State-Specific Land Surveyor Photogrammetrist Exam.

In addition, an individual may also apply for licensure as a Land Surveyor B (LS-B) Exam. Pursuant to 18 VAC10-20-320, an applicant shall be deemed qualified for the LS-B exam when they:

(1) Hold a valid license as a land surveyor for two years;
(2) Present satisfactory evidence of a minimum of two years of land surveying experience that is progressive in complexity in land surveyor B land surveying, as provided is Section 54.1-408 of the Code of Virginia, under the direct control and personal supervision of a licensed land surveyor B or professional engineer;
(3)Present satisfactory evidence of having passed college-level courses in hydrology and hydraulics that are acceptable to the board; and
(4) Pass an exam developed by the board.


Here you will find additional resources to learn more about the profession of surveying.


All About Surveying: Where Foundations Begin

Surveying Apprenticeship Related Education

Engineers and Surveyors Institute

East Tennessee State University: Engineering Technology, Surveying & Digital Media Programs

ETSU - Surveying and Mapping Science Program (PDF)

Old Dominion University: Civil Engineering Technology Program

NCEES: Path to Licensure

Code of Ethics

Contact the Licensing Board for more information on your path to licensure

Tidewater Community College Surveying Certificate Program

Fairfax County Adult Education Surveying Apprenticeship Program

University of Maine Online Surveying Program