What does a Survey Party Chief do?

Ryan Russell

The survey party chief heads up a field survey crew, which is responsible for creating surveys for construction, topographic, right-of-way, and control survey tasks. He or she engages in the planning phase with local officials, supervisors, engineers, and contractors. The chief oversees surveying work and offers input and expertise. He or she also trains the survey crew on how to do use surveying equipment and conduct proper mapping.

A surveyor uses a theodolite to survey a property.
A surveyor uses a theodolite to survey a property.

A field survey crew collects survey data using a global positioning system (GPS). They use surveying tools, such as a total station, theodolite, and level, to measure elevations, distance and angles. The crew will typically use construction stakes to map out horizontal and vertical controls for proper construction. They are also is responsible for defining right-of-way and property boundaries. The chief leads this crew, making sure that their work is accurate.

A surveying party chief may need to know how to use a wide range of equipment.
A surveying party chief may need to know how to use a wide range of equipment.

This job requires great communication skills in order to develop relationships with the many parties involved in a construction project. The chief is responsible for coordinating and supervising all survey tasks until finished. He or she must communicate with utility companies to ensure proper surveying of public streets and easements, and the surveys must recognize and conform to the design of the utilities infrastructure.

The survey party chief is tasked with being the designated representative of the local government when meeting with private property owners about surveying needs. He or she reads construction maps to create a physical survey of the area being examined and decides which specific surveying techniques will be implemented on a given project. This person makes sure that all of the proper safety precautions are being taken on the survey site.

When on the job, this individual creates construction elevations and reads the engineering level to establish benchmarks. He or she will adjust the surveying equipment as necessary. Using collected data, the chief creates survey drafts to submit to project managers and other engineers. He or she converts broad bearings into exact angles and determines the precise slope needed.

The job description calls for someone who can make sure that crew members are properly trained and able to complete assigned tasks. This individual performs mathematical calculations to complete surveying tasks and to check for mistakes, since it is his or her job to ensure that all surveying data is accurate. The survey party chief creates descriptions for all surveys performed. If there are any tasks that a crew member is unable to complete, the chief is responsible for performing them.

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Discussion Comments


@talentryto- Though this does sound like an interesting career field, I don't think that there are many available positions in most areas. Cities that have a lot of development taking place and larger regions most likely have the most positions for people going into the survey party chief field. If your nephew doesn't live in this type of area, you should probably suggest that he consider a different field.


I have a nephew who is looking for a well-paying career path to pursue, and this sounds like something he would be interested in doing. I'm wondering what the job prospects are for positions as party chief in the survey field.

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