Why four students chose to change career paths and head back to college.
Better pay. More job opportunities. The ability to work outside. A more defined career path.
Those are just a few of the reasons why—despite already having bachelor’s degrees—Kyle Knutson, Chris Johnson, Stanley Silverberg, and Briana Johnson decided to go back to college.
One year later, all four students have graduated from Dunwoody’s Land Surveying certificate program and agree they are leaving with a much brighter future.
Dunwoody’s Land Surveying certificate helps students find their niche
“I have a bachelor’s degree in Wilderness Leadership, but I was looking to learn a [more] specific skill,” Chris Johnson said. “I enjoy being outdoors, and land surveying seemed like a good option.”
Graduate Kyle Knutson agreed:
“I found myself looking for a career that combines my passion for geography with the ability to be out of doors while at work,” Knutson said. “This program is perfectly suited for someone like myself with a bachelor’s degree who is looking to move into the surveying field.”
While Dunwoody also offers a two-year associate’s degree in Surveying & Civil Engineering Technology, the Land Surveying certificate is unique in that it specifically targets students who already have a bachelor’s degree and are possibly interested in becoming a professional surveyor.
The coursework builds on student’s existing bachelor’s degrees, offering a quicker route to the surveying profession. Most students complete the certificate in just two semesters.
Program graduates are prepared to become Land Surveyors in Training (LSIT), which work under a licensed surveyor and assist in the collection of data and mapping of the earth’s surface. They are employed by a wide array of governmental agencies, including counties, cities, and states, in addition to private contracting and land surveying firms.
“The goal is to help students who maybe didn’t have a clear idea of what their future looked like before,” Surveying & Civil Engineering Technology Principal Instructor Kelly Ness said.
Stanley Silverberg, who has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications, shared that his unclear future began just weeks before the start of the program:
“I was laid off in December of 2015,” he said. “I had [previously] worked for an engineering company doing land surveying, and I decided to pursue a formal education in the profession to help with employment opportunities in the future.”
Certificate builds on existing skills, adds hands-on training
With prior experience in the field and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa, Silverberg was a perfect applicant for the program.
“The types of bachelor’s degrees or related work experience that work especially well with this certificate include geography, earth sciences, math, and physics,” Ness said.
Students then expand on their existing skills and knowledge by participating in hands-on projects as well as training on industry-standard equipment.
Throughout the program, students take a wide variety of lectures and labs in areas such as 2D and 3D drafting, boundary control, and land use planning. They also prepare for industry by becoming familiar with the technologies they can expect to find out on the job, including computer-aided drafting programs (CAD) and the latest in GNSS (GPS) technology.
At the end of the year, graduates are eligible to take the Fundamentals of Land Surveying (FLS) exam to become Land Surveyors in Training (LSIT). Upon gaining the required experience under a licensed surveyor, graduates will then be able to take the Fundamentals of Surveying (FS) exam to become professional land surveyors.
The national median salary for professional land surveyors in Minnesota is $70,620 annually*—a selling point for Briana Johnson.
“I was not making enough money with what I was doing [previously],” Johnson said. “I chose Dunwoody because of the cost and the hands-on experience that I would get with the programs.
“I am excited to be able to support myself financially and enjoy the job that I am doing.”
Dunwoody College’s Land Surveying certificate offers 22 technical credits in land surveying, as currently required by the MN board of licensure (AELSLAGID). The program takes approximately one year to complete.
If you do not have a bachelor’s degree but are interested in becoming a surveying technician, Dunwoody College also has a two-year associate’s degree in Surveying & Civil Engineering Technology.
*Based on May 2015 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates for the state of Minnesota published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, www.bls.gov.