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How to Become a Land Surveyor in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania land surveyors are charged with the responsibility of preventing and resolving land-related disputes. Using the services of a licensed professional surveyor to measure and mark property boundaries can reveal irregularities and encroachments, can help property owners meet zoning compliance, and can provide a legal map of family land. Becoming a land surveyor in Pennsylvania requires far more than a civil engineering degree. The process requires an applicant to complete a series of tests, accrue work experience, and get an education that can take eight or more years to accomplish.

Become Certified

Qualify for the fundamentals exam. Land surveyors in Pennsylvania must have one of the following to qualify to take the fundamentals exam: a civil engineering degree from a four-year college, an associate's degree in survey technology, or six years of experience in land surveying that is divided between office and field experience. Four-year degrees must include at least 10 hours of survey instruction, and all degrees must be obtained from an ABET-accredited school.

Apply to take the fundamentals exam. Pennsylvania uses the services of Professional Credential Service Inc. to manage its application and exam process. PCS provides the application on its website, where exam information is listed by state and then by occupation. Applications include a form to request a school transcript and forms to document work experience if it applies to the applicant. A fee of $25 and the completed application fee must be returned to the address indicated on the application form.

Complete an examination scheduling form. Form PA11, a three-page form, is available from the PCS website; you must complete it to claim a testing date and time for the fundamentals test. Return the first two pages of the form and the $195 testing fee to the address indicated in the PA11 form instructions. Successful applicants will receive examination admission authorization letters in the mail.

Register for the test through the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying website. The third page of form PA11 is reserved for the actual test scheduling. Visit the NCEES website, create a free account and register for the test. During the account registration process, the applicant will be given an NCEES identification number. Use that NCEES identification number to complete the third page of form PA11 and return the form to the location indicated on the form.

Take the test as scheduled. Bring a government-issued photo identification card and the admission authorization letter to the exam. Scores will post to applicants' NCEES account about 10 to 12 weeks after the test date. Certification cards are mailed from the state board after test dates post. If the applicant fails the exam, re-exam information will be available from their NCEES account.

Become Licensed

Qualify to take the professional exam. Applicants must first be certified as a surveyor in training by passing the fundamentals exam as described previously. Applicants must then meet one of the following requirements: at least four years of work experience under the supervision of a licensed land surveyor, or four or more years teaching land surveying under the supervision of a licensed land surveyor.

Apply to take the professional surveying exam. The exam is also known as the Principles and Practice Exam. PCS manages this Pennsylvania professional exam process. Applications are available from the PCS website; they include a form to record and verify the applicant's work or teaching experience and a form for the applicant's personal reference. Return the completed form and the $50 fee to the address indicated in the form instructions.

Complete an examination scheduling form. Form PA11 can be downloaded from the PCS website. Complete the first two pages of the form and return them and the $260 test fee to the address indicated in the instructions. The state will return an examination admission authorization letter to the applicant once the application has been approved.

Schedule the exam through the NCEES website. Visit the NCEES website and create a free account. Register for the test through the newly created account. Take note of the NCEES identification number given to the applicant during the registration process. Use the identification number to complete page three of form PA11 and return the form as directed in the form instructions.

Take the test. Bring a government-issued photo ID and the examination admission authorization form to the test. Test scores are posted to the applicant's NCEES account approximately 12 weeks after the test date. Successful applicants receive their land surveyor licenses from the state in the mail.


Land surveyors with licensing from other states must take the Pennsylvania surveying examination through PCS Inc. The reciprocity exam is a third and separate exam from the surveyor-in-training and the state professional exam.

Keep the state informed of your current address and contact information. Certification, licensing and renewal information is mailed to the current address on record.


Alex Burke holds a degree in environmental design and a Master of Arts in information management. She's worked as a licensed interior designer, artist, database administrator and nightclub manager. A perpetual student, Burke writes Web content on a variety of topics, including art, interior design, database design, culture, health and business.