Surveyor Kairūri

Surveyors plan, direct and conduct survey work to determine the position of boundaries, locations, topographic features and built structures.

Surveyors of all specialisations can apply to become members of the New Zealand Institute of Surveyors and work towards professional registration, which is voluntary.

By law, only a licensed cadastral surveyor can certify cadastral (land title) surveys. To become a licensed cadastral surveyor you must:

  • obtain a certificate of competency from Survey and Spatial New Zealand, which requires at least two years of practical experience
  • apply for a licence with the Cadastral Surveyors Licencing Board of New Zealand.

Surveyors may do some or all of the following:

  • survey and monitor land or seabeds
  • carry out land title surveys and set boundaries
  • check the accuracy of records and measurements
  • prepare maps, plans and charts to give pictorial representations of the land or seabed
  • map out location and design of structures such as new roads and pipelines
  • report on survey data to clients and councils
  • discuss surveying or land development projects with clients, local authorities, other professionals or local iwi
  • ensure project proposals comply with council district plans and liaise with the council to deal with any issues
  • prepare resource consent applications, including environmental impact assessments.

Physical Requirements

Surveyors need to have a good level of fitness and be reasonably strong, as they may need to carry measuring equipment into the field. They also need good eyesight (with or without corrective lenses) to operate surveying and measuring equipment.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for surveyors includes:

  • work as a surveyor's assistant or technician
  • experience working in cartography, draughting or engineering
  • experience working at a mining or construction site.

Personal Qualities

Surveyors need to be:

  • patient and precise, with an eye for detail
  • adaptable, as they may work on different types of projects
  • able to work under pressure and to deadlines
  • comfortable working in an office and outdoors
  • methodical and precise when taking measurements
  • good at problem solving
  • skilled communicators and relationship managers.


Surveyors need to have:

  • knowledge of survey methods
  • the ability to interpret and use information from maps, graphic drawings and measurements taken in the field
  • knowledge of maths, particularly trigonometry
  • computer skills and the ability to use computer-aided design (CAD) software
  • good general knowledge of environmental issues, earth sciences and civil engineering
  • understanding of issues such as land rights, land ownership and boundary definitions
  • understanding of relevant legislation such as the Resource Management Act, local by-laws and town planning regulations.



  • usually work regular business hours, but may need to work evenings or weekends
  • work both on-site and in offices. On-site locations may be remote, for example mines or rural locations
  • may have to work in all weather conditions.

Surveyors can earn around $50K-$60K per year.

Chances of getting a job as a Surveyor are good due to a shortage of people interested in this type of work.

Pay for surveyors varies depending on experience, qualifications and where they work.

  • Graduate surveyors usually earn between $50,000 and $60,000 a year.
  • Newly licensed surveyors can earn between $70,000 and $85,000.
  • With five or more years' experience, surveyors can earn from $90,000 to $120,000.

Surveyors who are managers, business partners or self-employed may earn more than this.

Sources: Beca, 2018; Eighty4 Recruitment, 2018; Hays, 2018; University of Otago, 2018.

Surveyors may progress to set up their own surveyor business, or move into management roles.

Surveyors may specialise in areas such as:

Cadastral Surveyor
Cadastral surveyors define and mark property boundaries.
Engineering Surveyor
Engineering surveyors work in the civil engineering industry to help map and plan new structures such as buildings, roads and bridges.
Hydrographic Surveyor
Hydrographic surveyors map and monitor the bottom contours of bodies of water such as seas, streams, rivers and lakes.
Mine Surveyor
Mine surveyors undertake surface and underground surveys designed to produce information for the construction of mines.
Map Maker
Map makers, also called cartographers, use aerial photographs and photogrammetric processes to create and revise maps.

Years Of Training

4 years of training required.

To become a surveyor you need to have a Bachelor of Surveying (BSurv). The four-year degree is only offered by the University of Otago School of Surveying.

To work as a hydrographic surveyor you also need to complete a Postgraduate Diploma in Science, specialising in hydrography. The Royal NZ Navy also trains a small number of hydrographic surveyors.