In Wisconsin, a surveyor must be licensed in order to perform property surveys. This encompasses any surveying which includes describing, monumenting, and locating existing or creating new boundaries. The expertise needed includes not only technical competency but also knowledge of contemporary and historic legal principles, strong communication skills, and good problem solving skills.
Each state has its own surveying licensure requirements but most require a combination of education and experience. Although in some states, Wisconsin included, it is still possible to obtain licensure based on only on experience, few surveyors enter the profession that way due to the time necessary and breadth of knowledge needed.
A summary of licensing methods in Wisconsin are:
(A) There are two different methods to become licensed based on education and experience:
Education Method 1, Bachelors Degree:
In a accredited four year Land Surveying program, or,
In a accredited four year Civil Engineering program which includes at least 24 credits in Surveying.
And two years of experience
Education Method 2, Associate Degree:
In Land Surveying, or,
In a related degree which includes at least of 12 credits in Surveying.
And four years of experience.
(B) To become licensed based only on experience requires ten years of experience.
Not just any surveying experience counts toward licensure. Since land surveying concerns property boundaries most of the qualifying experience must be in that area. Specific practice areas are defined in Wis Admin A-E 6.03.
All methods of licensure also require written examination. There are two exams, each eight hours long:
Fundamentals of Land Surveying (FLS)
Principles and Practice of Surveying (PLS) - National and State sections
The exams emphasize the broad knowledge base, technical and legal, needed by the new surveyor.
Another method to gain Wisconsin licensure is through reciprocity. This is the process whereby a license is granted based on an existing license from a different jurisdiction. For example, a professional surveyor in Michigan could apply for a Wisconsin license.
The requirements of the originating jurisdiction must be the same as or more strict than Wisconsin's. And generally the applicant is required to take at least the state portion of the PLS exam to demonstrate familiarity & knowledge of Wis laws and practice.
Because the reciprocal license is based on another, should the original one be suspended (through expiration or penalty) so is the reciprocal one.