A professional surveyor's career will provide you with a pretty decent salary, especially when you stack it up against the average salary for all United States occupations. In May 2010, surveyors pulled in a median annual salary of about $55K annually. Surveying and mapping technicians, who perform much of the actual survey work, grossed around $40K annually. Workers in all occupations lumped together grossed an annual salary of about $35K. Remember: a median annual salary means half of an occupation's workers pulled in more than that amount; the other half earned less.
Now let's look at the bottom feeder and top tier earnings figures. In a cash-strapped survey office, your salary is around $30K; this figure almost assured you of a ramen-and-mac-and-cheese diet. On the other hand, a top-tier surveyor makes about $90K annually. He really enjoys his prime rib with truffles on top.
Cut to the bottom line here: Where will you make the most money? Surveyors employed by state governments grossed around $70K. Local governments came in next, with surveyors making around $60K. Next, we find building construction-related surveyors, who make around $55K. Surveyors employed by engineering and architectural services businesses make around $50K, along with civil engineering/heavy construction firms.
Finally, remember most salaried positions will also include some type of benefit package. Health insurance, savings and/or investment plans, and educational assistance dollars may make your salary a bit more attractive. Some firms or agencies offer additional perks, such as health club discounts or savings on varied consumer services. Consider your needs, and evaluate a potential employer's total compensation package, before you decide where to hang your hard hat.