A land surveyor is an individual normally licensed in one or more states in the United States to perform the establishment or re-establishment of land boundaries in regards to ownership or rights in real property (i.e., land, water, mineral, easements and rights-of-way).
The act of land surveying varies upon the requirements of the survey. In order to perform any type of a survey, the first step is always the research of the records involving the project, record title (deeds), existing easements, record survey monumentation and control (horizontal & vertical) and any available documentation from various public and private records that provide relevant data to the completion of the project. The next step in the process would ordinarily be the field survey, the process in which the land surveyor conducts a field examination of the site and gathers data generally by means of survey equipment such as a total station theodilite (loosely referred to as a transit) and a data collector (electronic data recorder), and/or Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) equipment.
In this process the Surveyor acquires a position on previously established survey monuments for vertical reference or for horizontal control or both. This is generally acquired in the form of coordinates (number values) such as a Northing and an Easting with X= Easting, Y= Northing, expressed as 0, 0 as the point of origin. In general terms the lower left of the project will be smaller numbers and will increase in value as the positions move to the North and to the East, beginning in the lower left of a project at 0,0 then if the next point is 300 feet to the East of this point and 200 feet to the North of this point the coordinate value is 300,200 (X=300, Y=200). The gathering of this data by RTK GPS is a direct coordinate value, by a total station theodilite requires an orientation into the system by setting up on a known point and sighting on a known point and then recording the angle between that line and the next point sighted at and then the distance to that point. The coordinate is then computed and recorded in the data collector. Before data collectors the information was handwritten in a field book and computations were performed later.
After the fieldwork is gathered, the next step is the analysis of the data. In a boundary survey, the completion of the fieldwork is performed by setting the permanent survey markers that control the boundary corners, then a survey plat and description (one or the other or both-depending on local and state requirements) is created and the final report is sent to be recorded (if required by law) in the appropriate government office, and a final copy is presented to the client.