A Day in the Life of a Surveyor

Posted by on Jul 5, 2016

An interview with Roger Joiner, Survey Team Leader

Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Black Hills, South Dakota, USAWhat do you enjoy about working in the field as a surveyor?

The part I enjoy the most about surveying is that you’re not ever in the same place too long. I love the outdoors and an added bonus of this job is that you get to spend most of your days outside. Surveyors spend a lot of time in the heat during the summer and in the cold during the winter; we get about four good weeks out of the year with perfect weather. People are always asking me about snakes. Thankfully, we really don’t see that many snakes.  Our biggest problem when cutting lines are the bees.  There are a lot more bees than snakes in the woods, neither of which I enjoy too much!

What kind of services are you typically called on to do? 

We have a very diverse client base. We work on industrial, residential, commercial, transportation and infrastructure projects. One thing that is so unique for our size company is the diverse projects that we work on. Typically, we are contacted by the client.  In most cases the client is required by the city, county or the lender to have a survey performed. Before a bank will lend money to a property buyer they want a survey to show all the improvements or any encroachments. We also provide surveys for civil engineers to use for their site design. We also perform As-Built surveys to verify that the project was constructed in accordance with the specifications required for the project.

What would you say was the most exciting/challenging project you have been involved with during the past year?

It is hard to pick a single project because each project is challenging and unique. However the Kamtek Expansion project does stand out. Not only was the project challenging and unique in its own way, this project involved several different types of surveys. The project was in its early stages when I arrived at Sain in September 2015 and it involved practically everyone here. First we did the topographic survey that our Civil department used for the site design, then we did an ALTA Land Title survey for Kamtek to purchase the property from the City of Birmingham. Then we prepared a subdivision plat to combine the two lots Kamtek owned with the newly acquired property involving the expansion. This subdivision process consisted of vacating a portion of Sterilite Drive, which is a process that takes a few months and to get this approved, Sain’s Traffic department prepared a traffic study to determine the impact of closing that portion of street. Our survey department has also provided construction staking services with the new expansion.

How are engineering and surveying related?

Not all surveyors are engineers. On just about any type of project, the surveyor’s role is to begin with collecting the basic information for the engineer to do his design. It is helpful for the surveyor to understand how the engineer is going to use the information they are collecting and what is going on with the project. On the back end the surveyors are also connected through construction staking. Engineering and surveying have a lot in common but they are very different in many ways. A surveyor must have a fair amount of engineering knowledge.

What experience do you have in the survey field?

I have over 35 years of surveying experience on a variety of projects and am licensed in Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee. I have surveyed on highway projects, large industrial projects, pipeline projects, shopping malls and other commercial properties as well as many surveys for private land owners.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The part that I enjoy most about surveying is the variety of projects. Each survey, project and client is different so there is always a fun, new challenge. The day to day of this job is constantly changing; you don’t have a chance to get bored.  It is also important to note, the technology is always changing in this industry which really keeps you on your toes. I went from using a chain in 1978 to surveyors now using laser scanning, drones and satellites.  This job is really ever changing.

If you could tell your readers the most important thing about surveying in one sentence what would it be?

That surveying was very important in the development of the United States and is an important part of our country’s history. (Fun fact: Three of our presidents were surveyors. Did you know the faces of Mt. Rushmore are three surveyors and a guy that enjoyed hunting?)

Leave a Reply