GPS, Google Maps and the hiking map on the smartphone. Applications like this make our lives easier. This is made possible by the work of surveyors. The surveying of our earth’s surface and everything that is on it – houses, roads, forests – that is what surveyors and geodesists take care of. They then evaluate the collected data and display it on maps or in the form of 3D models.
Thanks to the surveyors, we can not only tell exactly how big Australia is, but also measure changes such as sea level rise and even predict tsunamis. The data of the surveyors are also indispensable for the planning of high-rise buildings, streets or rail lines . Measuring devices now work so precisely that they are also used in areas such as the automotive industry. There, surveyors measure the shape of the car body down to the sub-millimeter, for example after crash tests.
Surveying in transition
The science of surveying the world is not new: the ancient Egyptians measured the boundaries of their lands precisely. Geodesy is a future technology that uses the most modern technology. Satellites and digital sensors provide vast amounts of data that are processed and analyzed with the help of computers.
The data is also displayed as satellite images, maps or 3D models using the latest technology. Today’s surveyors are not only familiar with geosciences and natural sciences , but have also become experts in dealing with modern information technologies.
Study content of surveying (geodesy)
In Germany, surveying and geospatial science can be studied at around 20 universities and technical colleges . Prospective students are ideally interested in geography as well as computer science and technology.
In the bachelor’s degree
In the bachelor’s degree, students accordingly deal with natural and geoscientific fundamentals as well as computer science . In addition to mathematics and physics , the timetable also includes subject-specific subjects such as statistics and surveying. In addition, the students get to know different programming languages and database systems.
You will practice using modern surveying equipment and geographic information systems and acquire knowledge of state planning and area management. Depending on the course of study, there is the possibility in the higher semesters to specialize in a certain area through elective subjects , for example in construction or environmental changes.
In the master’s degree
Anyone seeking a position as a “publicly appointed surveyor” must have a master’s degree. A master’s degree is usually a prerequisite for management positions in the private sector. Depending on the university, students in their master’s degree specialize in a certain field of work such as geoinformatics , cartography or navigation . Some master’s courses are more general in nature and cover a broad spectrum of geodesy.
Career prospects for surveyors
Currently, the need for surveyors is higher than the number of graduates. The chances of getting a job after university are excellent. Since the field of geodesy is also constantly expanding, the professions in which surveying engineers work are also very diverse .
One of the more classic professional fields is the work as a publicly appointed surveyor. They carry out measurements of all kinds on behalf of public administrations , which are used, for example, to evaluate real estate or to plan urban spaces . Other typical employers are surveying, engineering or architecture firms , for which surveyors, for example, collect the data necessary for the construction of buildings, tunnels or bridges.
In addition, surveyors work in the automotive and mechanical engineering industries and in space technology, where they measure products using the most modern methods. But the work of surveyors is not limited to the earth: They are also employed in aerospace organizations to monitor the earth from space or to carry out measurements of near-earth space.
You calculate the changes in the earth’s surface on behalf of environmental protection organizations or insurance companies or act as consultants for a wide variety of clients. Since the course provides an intensive introduction to computer science, you can also work as a software developer, for example for transport companies or manufacturers of geographic information systems . Master’s graduates also have the opportunity to stay at the university and pursue an academic career.
Study surveying globally
For surveyors, it makes sense to study one or more semesters abroad for several reasons. On the one hand, they expand their technical knowledge by learning to measure landscapes under different conditions . On the other hand, they improve their foreign language skills and collect important intercultural skills such as working in international teams. This not only improves your future job prospects in Germany, but also prepares you for a possible future job abroad.