Career Map: Land Surveyor
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Access to the Land Surveyor Profession in Ontario
This career map was updated in June 2011. The information in this career map is a summary of information available on the AOLS website. Please visit the Association’s website for the most detailed and current information about applying for membership.
Copyright in this career map is held jointly by the Queen’s Printer for Ontario and the Association of Ontario Land Surveyors, © 2011. This career map may be used or reproduced by any third party for non-commercial, not-for-profit purposes, as long as no fee, payment or royalty of any kind is charged by the third party for any further use or reproduction of the career map by any person. Any proposed commercial or for-profit use or reproduction of this career map requires a written license from the Queen’s Printer for Ontario and the Association of Ontario Land Surveyors.
This career map is for internationally educated survey professionals who have an academic background in geomatics or geomatic engineering or who have completed an equivalent college or university program. Land surveying is a regulated profession in Ontario. You must be a member of the Association of Ontario Land Surveyors (AOLS) to work as a professional land surveyor in Ontario. This career map describes the requirements you need to meet to become a member of AOLS and the steps involved in applying for membership.
Geomatics professionals measure, analyze and manage Earth-based and spatial data. This data comes from many sources, including satellites, air- and sea-borne sensors, and ground-based instruments. There are five branches of geomatics, or professional surveying. They are:
Legal Boundary Surveying
Legal boundary surveying is also known as cadastral surveying. Cadastral surveyors provide an expert opinion on the location of boundaries. They use historical research, knowledge of statute and common law, and the latest technology in measurement and data processing. Cadastral surveying is commonly used in the process of purchasing real estate.
Geographic Information Management
Geographic information managers develop and operate geographic information systems (GIS) using computers, global positioning system (GPS) units, surveying instruments, and mapping software. GIS is used to plan the use of land and natural resources, and manage public and private infrastructure.
Geodetic surveyors, or geodesists, measure and represent the Earth and its gravitational field, polar motion, tides, and the movement of its crust in three-dimensional space. Geodetic surveys are used for large areas. They provide the foundation upon which land information services rely.
Photogrammetrists analyze aerial and terrestrial photographs to obtain spatial information about physical objects and the environment. They create scale models, maps, images, and digital files to portray this information.
Hydrographers measure and chart the physical features of rivers, lakes and oceans from mobile survey platforms such as boats, barges and aircraft. Hydrographic surveys are used to prepare navigational charts, tide and current tables, sailing directions, and related publications for commercial, industrial and recreational use.
The Association of Ontario Land Surveyors (AOLS)
The Association of Ontario Land Surveyors is the governing body for professional surveyors in Ontario. It protects the public by ensuring that Ontario land surveyors work with high professional standards and demonstrate ethical behaviour in accordance with the Surveyors Act, 1990. All legal boundary (cadastral) survey work in Ontario must be carried out under the supervision of a licensed member of the AOLS. You can do cadastral survey work without being licensed, if a professional surveyor licensed by AOLS supervises and takes responsibility for your work. However, you cannot use the title “Ontario Land Surveyor” or “Ontario Land Information Professional” or any similar title that may lead members of the public to believe that you are qualified to practice professional cadastral surveying unless you are a licensed member of AOLS.
The AOLS also offers a Certificate of Registration in geographic information management (GIM), photogrammetry, hydrography, and geodesy. You do not legally need to have this certificate in order to work in these fields. However, individual employers may require you to hold a Certificate of Registration. Members of AOLS who hold a Certificate of Registration are entitled to use the titles "Ontario Land Surveyor" and "Ontario Land Information Professional."
If you do not meet the requirements for licensing/registration, you can become an associate member of AOLS if you are employed by an Ontario Land Surveyor/Ontario Land Information Professional. As an associate member of AOLS, you are entitled to receive general information from AOLS and to attend AOLS meetings, but you are not allowed to vote at meetings.
AOLS currently has 536 licensed members, 89 registered members, 157 associate members, 161 retired associate members, and 38 articling students.
Requirements for Membership
To be eligible for full membership (licence as a cadastral surveyor or Certificate of Registration) with AOLS, you must:
- Be of good character;
- Be at least 18 years old;
- Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Ontario;
- Meet the competency requirements; these are normally met by a four-year university degree in geomatics or geomatic engineering from an accredited educational institution, or the equivalent;
- Complete the 18-month Term of Articles (practical experience requirement); and
- Attend the Professional Lecture course and pass the Professional Examination.
To qualify as an associate member, you must:
- Be enrolled in a post-secondary school course in professional land surveying; or
- Be an articled student with a registered member of AOLS; or
- Be employed in, retired from, or associated with the practice of professional land surveying.
Language Proficiency Requirement
You do not need to pass a language proficiency examination to qualify for membership with AOLS. However, to complete the application process and to work as a professional surveyor, you will need advanced communication skills in English. The AOLS offers two optional online courses to help you improve your written communication: Professional Communications and Capstone Design Project (Technical Reporting).
If you need to upgrade your English communication skills, English-as-a-second-language (ESL) classes are offered throughout Ontario by community-based organizations as well as by local school boards, colleges, and universities. To find out about English-as-a-second-language courses in your community, visit the Services Near Me section of the Settlement.org website.
Steps to Membership
Step 1) Have Your Academic Credentials Evaluated by a Third-Party Evaluation Service
Your first step is to have your international academic credentials evaluated by a third-party evaluation service. You should do this before you settle in Ontario, if possible. You need to arrange to have your official university or college transcripts evaluated by either the Comparative Education Service at the University of Toronto or by World Education Services. These organizations evaluate your academic credentials and determine their equivalency to university/college programs offered in Canada. An evaluation report will be sent directly from the evaluation service to the AOLS.
Step 2) Submit Your Evaluation Application to AOLS
Your next step is to request your college or university to send an official sealed transcript of your grades directly to the AOLS office. If this is not possible, you may bring your original documents to the AOLS office to be copied. Then complete and submit the Ontario Land Surveyor Evaluation Application, which is available on the AOLS website. With your application, you need to include:
- A cover letter (you can view a sample cover letter on the AOLS website);
- A detailed resumé;
- Detailed descriptions of your university/college courses;
- Any other information related to your academic background or work experience that may support your evaluation; and
- Your application fee (see the Fees and Costs section of this career map); you can make your payment with a cheque or a credit card number, or with cash if you are paying in person at the AOLS office
If your university/college transcripts or your course descriptions are not in English or French, you also need to provide AOLS with translations. To find a certified translator in Ontario, visit the website of the Association of Translators and Interpreters of Ontario (ATIO). Alternatively, you can use a certified translator in your country. AOLS requires the original translations and proof of the translator’s certification.
Step 3) Complete the AOLS Self-Assessment
Once your application and supporting documents have been received, a case manager at AOLS will contact you and invite you to complete a self-assessment form. This is an online tool available on the AOLS website that lists in detail all of the competencies or skills you need to have to qualify for licensing/registration. By completing this self-assessment, you will gain a good understanding of your professional competencies and any gaps in your skills. You can complete the self-assessment either before or after you settle in Ontario. You will be assigned an advisor who can answer your questions and provide any other assistance you need to complete the self-assessment. Your advisor will be available to meet with you in person or via email, instant messaging, Skype, or other Internet technology.
Step 4) Meet with an AOLS Assessor
Your case manager will review your academic transcripts and other documentation as well as your completed self-assessment to determine if it is appropriate for you to participate in a personal interview with an AOLS assessor. After speaking with you, the assessor will prepare a detailed report for the AOLS Academic and Experience Requirements Committee (AERC). This report will identify any gaps in your professional competencies. The AERC will make a final decision about what competencies you need to gain to qualify for membership.
Step 5) Meet the Competency Requirements
If the AERC determines that you do not meet all of the competency requirements, you and your assessor will work together to design an individualized learning contract, which must then be approved by the AERC. Your learning contract will describe your pathway to attaining the required competencies within a specified period of time. Your path may involve any of the following:
- Completing additional university courses;
- Reading assigned texts and answering questions and/or writing reports;
- Passing examination modules offered by the Canadian Board of Examiners for Professional Surveyors (CBEPS);
- Completing online simulations and labs;
- Demonstrating your knowledge in a personal interview with your AOLS assessor;
- Compiling a portfolio demonstrating how you have attained specific competencies; and/or
- Completing training and gaining experience in specific competencies as an articling student.
In addition, most international applicants are required to complete online courses offered by AOLS in Canadian common law, Ontario survey law, and municipal planning.
Step 6) Complete the Term of Articles
The Term of Articles is the practical work experience requirement for membership with AOLS. Before you can begin your Term of Articles, you need to find employment with an Ontario Land Surveyor. You can post your resumé on the AOLS website and respond to advertisements posted by employers.
Once you have met or are close to meeting the competency requirements, AOLS will invite you to submit an Application for Articles along with the application fee. Please visit the AOLS website to download the appropriate forms. Your supervising surveyor will sign a written agreement with you to provide specific training and work experience. The AERC reviews applications for articling twice a year, in January and July. Applications must be received one month before the date of the meeting. Once the AERC has reviewed and approved your application to article, both you and your articling surveyor must attend an Articling Workshop.
The articling period is normally 18 months; however, you can apply to the AERC to have your articling period reduced by up to six months if you feel a reduction is justified by your previous work experience. You must submit your application for a reduction within two months of signing the Articles Agreement.
If you wish to qualify for licensing as a cadastral (boundary) surveyor, you must complete your Term of Articles under the supervision of an AOLS member who has been licensed as a cadastral surveyor with AOLS for at least three years before you begin your Term of Articles.
If you wish to qualify for a Certificate of Registration, you must complete your Term of Articles under the supervision of a) an AOLS member who has held a Certificate of Registration for at least three years before the beginning of your Term of Articles, or b) under the supervision of a person approved by AERC.
Step 7) Attend the Professional Lecture Course and Pass the Professional Examination
Your final step to qualify for membership is to attend the Professional Lecture course and pass the Professional Examination. You are eligible to take the course and the examination eight months after you have met the competency requirements. In addition, you must have completed your Term of Articles.
The Professional Lecture course is held over three days in September each year in Toronto. The lecture course is mandatory and helps you prepare for the Professional Examination.
The Professional Examination is held twice each year in Toronto and has both a written and an oral component. The written examination is four hours long and consists of approximately ten essay questions on surveying situations, business, ethics, and the operation of AOLS. The oral component is held on a separate day and is about one hour long. In the oral examination, you are given three written questions from each of the subject areas of business, ethics, and AOLS operations. You have ten minutes to consider the questions and take notes, if you wish. Then a panel of three AOLS members will invite you to discuss your answers to the questions.
Step 8) Apply for Membership
Once you have completed your Term of Articles and passed the Professional Examination, you are eligible to apply for membership with the Association of Ontario Land Surveyors.
As an AOLS member, you can apply for membership with any other provincial or territorial surveying regulatory body in Canada by demonstrating that you have knowledge of local jurisprudence and local land registration systems. You do not need to have your academic qualifications or competencies assessed again.
Fees and Costs(in Canadian dollars; 13% HST is applicable to some fees)
The following fees and costs are for 2011. Contact the AOLS for the most up-to-date information.
|Credential evaluation by a third-party evaluation service||Variable|
|Ontario Land Surveyor Evaluation Application||$200|
|AOLS Self-Assessment||No charge|
|AOLS online courses (Introduction to Canadian Common Law; Ontario Survey Law; Municipal Planning; Professional Communications; Capstone Design Project (Technical Reporting)||$500
|AOLS Professional Lecture Course and Examination||$250|
|Application for Articles||$100|
|Annual Articling Fee||$80|
|Application for Membership||No charge|
|Annual Membership Fee for Licensed Members||$1,000|
|Annual Membership Fee for Registered Members||$350|
Labour Market Information
According to Ontario Job Futures, 71% of land surveyors are employed by professional survey companies. Many of these are small owner-operated businesses employing a single professional, who may supervise several unlicensed assistants. Land surveyors are also employed by construction, mining, and real estate development companies, as well as by federal, provincial, and municipal governments.
Figures from 2005 show that the average annual employment income for land surveyors employed full-time was $58,430. An informal survey conducted by AOLS in 2010 indicated that an experienced licensed Ontario Land Surveyor/Land Information Professional can expect to earn $100,000 + per year.
Professional land surveyors form a relatively small occupational group. Employment opportunities fluctuate from year to year depending on construction activity and the need to develop maps for land and resource management. Technological advances in survey techniques have affected work in this field. Both geographic information systems (GIS) and global positioning systems (GPS) have helped the land surveyor become more accurate and productive. Workers will need to develop appropriate skills to keep up with the new technologies. There is some mobility among the various fields of surveying such as legal boundary, engineering, mining, and geophysical surveying.
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada’s (HRSDC) Working in Canada Report predicts that during the period 2009 to 2018, there will be a shortage of workers in this occupation. Job openings will largely be a result of retirement by older workers.
Contacts and Resources
For more information about how to become a licensed land surveyor in Ontario, contact:
For more information about the profession of land surveying in Canada, contact:
Association of Canadian Lands Surveyors
900 Dynes Road, Suite 100E
Ottawa, ON K2C 3L6
Geomatics Industry Association of Canada
P.O. Box 62009
Ottawa, ON K1C 7H8
For information about having your academic credentials evaluated, contact:
Comparative Education Service
School of Continuing Studies
158 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2V8
World Education Services
45 Charles Street East, Suite 700
Toronto, Ontario M4Y 1S2
Toll free: 866-343-0070
To find a certified translator, contact:
Association of Translators and Interpreters of Ontario (ATIO)
1 Nicholas Street, Suite 1202
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll free: 1-800-234-5030
For information about regulated professions in Ontario, contact:
Government of Ontario
Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration
Global Experience Ontario
Tel: 416-327-9694 or 1-866-670-4094
Telecommunication Device for the Deaf
416-327-9710 or 1-866-388-2262
Copyright to this career map is held jointly by the Queen’s Printer for Ontario and the Association of Ontario Land Surveyors, © 2011