THE DEATH OF A NOBLE PROFESSION
With the signing of the continuing education requirements of P.A. 324 of 2010, specifically relating to Professional Land Surveyors, the slow and eventual death of the profession is staged to commence.
Professional surveying is not known as a continual update of innovative ideas, but a study in history and procedures set forth in the past as such the only new items in surveying is government regulation and equipment, new equipment information is handled very well by the retailer and government regulation is often very specific to location and enforcement by township, county, and state officials.
Many students of history made surveying their profession as it flows with their passion, however, I have never meet anyone that has entered Land Surveying to get rich, become famous, or even notably distinguished. Most, however, have told me that they entered the profession because they have a passion for history and the love of the outdoors. I personally know quite a few licensed surveyors, not being, one myself gives me a different perspective on the matter.
Having worked my way up from a draftsman to an operations manager and having experienced extensive aspects of surveying for more years then most licensed individuals, I can say with certainty that Land Surveying as a profession, on its own, is not a well paying position. However when accompanied by other means such as construction or engineering, it helps. I have yet to meet a rich land surveyor that only practiced Public Land surveying all of his or her life, as I am sure, you could say the same.
Registered surveyors are not Doctors and often do not exceed $50,000 per year. Doctors often make in excess of $90,000 per year, so adding the requirement of continuing education just bleeds a small portion of the professional world with dwindling profit margins beyond its ability to survive.
The passing of this legislation benefits only a small portion of the profession, those being educators and those that have never practiced the field for any length of time but are well versed in the technical theory of the profession and feel they can make a buck by holding continuing education classes. I have to ask this question, what do you teach a person with excess of 30 years of public land surveying and have been well established as a credit to his profession in specific areas of surveying?
According to this legislation, he must go in front of an individual and get educated, when in fact he has probably surveyed and defended in court 100 times as many theories as those that are being covered by this individual in his $200.00 continuing education class. A lot of people have said that this experienced 30 plus year individual is the person that should be teaching the class, however one general rule still stands above the rest in most walks of life, we have all heard it and I will restate it again for those that have not. “THOSE WHO CAN DO THOSE THAT CAN’T TEACH AND THOSE THAT CAN’T TEACH, TEACH THE TEACHERS”, which simply states that a person that is good at their chosen field teaches continuously every day and will not have time to teach a structured class but will be working in the profession in which they are experts, which is often a simple but truthful statement.
As I stated previously I am not a licensed surveyor, but have considered it many times, but with the additional requirements of continuing education and no ability to recover such costs, the prospect has become sour to me. I feel this will also become sour to the young individuals looking to get into the profession. They will look at it and simply say the requirements are not worth the income or risk after spending tens of thousands of dollars for a college education, training and testing to lose ones license for failing to fulfill a requirement for continual education credits. Especially in the current economy. Show me a practicing surveyor that has retained the receipts that he or she enjoyed 5 years ago, good luck.
Maybe instead of looking at how to make money for a few, we should return to an earlier time and use some of the past lessons to move into the future. First we need to educate the public on the need, requirement, and necessity of the Licensed Professional Land Surveyor, the differences between a Boundary, Mortgage, and Topographic surveys and what they are needed for. To this day, the public school system teaches about 10 minutes of education on surveying and property, if at all. Next we should look at the tried and true position of apprenticeship programs, they are proven over hundreds of years and are often dismissed as they do not make Universities money but have always created a better workforce. If there is an issue with this type of training, then the licensing test should weed out the slackers and poorly trained.
In conclusion, the true provider of guidance in our profession is the decisions made by the judges and not the interpretation of the educators. Any surveyor capable of practicing within the state must rely on his or her experiences to guide them throughout their profession. Such experiences are not taught in the classroom or taught through continuing education credits. They are acquired thru many years of on the job training. Every survey is unique as is every client. One must ask; why now after years of professional services by many individuals in this profession did the state decide to require continuing educational credits? Is it the results of shoddy workmanship, malpractice, lack of professionalism, an outcry from the public, or just the normal bureaucrats demanding attention? Will this solved some identified problem or should we just regulate more, spend more on regulation, and add more feel-good jobs? This is just another case let’s fix something that isn’t broke. The big benefactor of all seminars are usually government employees seeking to get a day off with pay and travel with expenses to attend a seminar which adds nothing to their duties or benefits their employer, and only adds expense to the tax payer.