What is a Professional Land Surveyor?

“Professional Land Surveyor” or the designation “P.L.S.” is the title used in North Dakota by individuals qualified to practice land surveying.  In North Dakota, the use of the title “Professional Land Surveyor” or the initials “P.L.S.” can be legally used only by individuals who have been given a Professional Land Surveying license by the North Dakota State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors.


A person licensed as a Professional Land Surveyor has demonstrated to the Board that they have the proper combination of education and experience to practice land surveying.  Additionally, a land surveyor must pass two 8-hour exams and a 2-hour exam on North Dakota laws before they may become licensed. Qualifying for a license takes at least 8 years to acquire the appropriate education and experience.  Stringent requirements have been established to make sure that only qualified individuals become licensed.


Professional Land Surveyors do different types of work. Some measure land, air space, and water areas. They describe where a certain area of land is. They explain what it looks like, and how much is there. They put these facts in deeds, leases, and other legal documents. They also define air space for airports. In addition, they measure construction and mineral sites. Do you know where your backyard ends and your neighbor’s yard begins? Have you ever wondered how maps are created? These are questions for a Professional Land Surveyor.


Surveying has been a very important part of the development of modern society.  Surveying techniques can be traced back as far as 5,000 years ago.   In ancient Egypt, when the Nile River flooded and washed out farm boundaries, boundaries were re-established by a surveyor through the use of geometry. The Great Pyramid of Giza is nearly perfectly square and is oriented on an almost perfect north-south line.  This is another example of how surveying techniques were used in ancient Egypt.


A Professional Land Surveyor is bound by law to the highest standards of integrity, competency and ethical conduct.  The sole function of licensing Professional Land Surveyors is to protect YOU.  The laws that established license requirements tell the Board to protect “the health, safety and welfare of the public.”  In reality, the “public” is you, your family and your friends.