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Demand is High for Land Survey Techs in Yakima

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YAKIMA -- Yakima Valley College has just been approved to become the fourth college in Washington State to offer a two-year AAS degree designed to get students ready for work as a land survey technician. The college also offers a shorter Certificate in Land Survey, and an engineering transfer track for those who wish to continue on to a bachelor’s degree, with an eye towards becoming a licensed land surveyor.

Land surveyors provide the measurements used in construction, transportation, insurance, and many other industries.

The work is a combination of outside labor and indoor computer work. In the Yakima area, the local president of the Land Surveyors Association of Washington reports that survey technicians are in high demand. Surveyors are now regularly using drones and radio-controlled boats as a part of the job.

For Brianna Buettner, a licensed surveyor working for the Yakama Nation, the job has added excitement because of the history of the land she works. “It’s always different,” she says. “Each job is a new location, with a new history to be discovered. When I started I got to survey property that we regularly found original evidence from the late 1800s. I loved searching for those ancient treasures, like a forensic detective. I still review the notes from these original federal surveys. Original evidence from those very early surveys still exists.”

“Regardless of the complexity, each civil engineer needs to be confident that their vision has been placed in the correct location on the ground and has been constructed in accordance with their plan and specifications,” explains Kevin Carlascio, an instructor with YVC’s Land Survey and Construction Design program. “Land Surveyors assume this responsibility, as their profession is based on tradition, process and procedure.”

As for the type of student who will thrive in the program, YVC instructor Andy Doan, the local chapter president of the Land Surveyors’ Association of Washington, says, “If you enjoy problem solving, if you are detail oriented, and enjoy working out in the field, I think this profession is for you.”

“It is the demand that is driving students into this field,” states YVC instructor Rajkumar Raj. Licensed land surveyors rely on land survey technicians to produce accurate measurements and reports. To become a licensed land surveyor, Buettner indicates it may take up to six years of study and experience. Technicians can be on the job in a third of that time.

While salaries in the field vary, Doan reports that most local land survey technicians are able to work full-time year-round. The local DOT division, for example, employs seven year-round surveyors, with only two additional full-time surveyors taken on seasonally.

For more information on the YVC program, contact Rajkumar Raj at 509-574-4752, or rraj@yvcc.edu.

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