Land Surveying Equipment

Wondering what land surveying equipment you need to carry out a land survey? In this article, we’re looking at all of the most common items of surveying tools and equipment.

The interesting thing about land surveying is that as a discipline, its principles have remained the same for thousands of years.

After all, the end result is still the same. Land surveyors make precise measurements to determine property and land boundaries.

Technology, however, has advanced a great deal over the years. Today, there are a number of state-of-the-art tools available to land surveyors that make their jobs quicker, easier, and even more accurate.

Here is a look at some of the essential items of land surveying equipment used today:


Theodolites are the camera-like devices you will have seen surveyors looking through on top of a tripod. Land surveyors use them to measure horizontal and vertical angles and are essentially rotating telescopes.

Sometimes land surveyors will also use devices called transits. These serve the same purpose. However, a theodolite is generally seen as being the more accurate of the two devices.

A theodolite is capable of measuring angles to an accuracy of one-tenth of a second angle and is one of the essential pieces of land surveying equipment.

Measuring Instruments

Surveying centers around measuring, so it’ll come as no surprise that a land surveyor will have various measuring devices in their tool kit.

This may include measuring wheels, tape measures, rulers, laser levels, chains, and various other laser devices. The type of device used usually comes down to the personal preference of a surveyor and the exact requirements.


We all know compasses as handy tools for finding direction. They’re also essential pieces of equipment for surveyors that are working in unfamiliar territory or traveling far into an open space.

In addition to this, compasses help surveyors to measure the distance between two points. As well as measuring horizontal angles and comparing the distance between different angles.

Survey Markers

Survey markers are objects that can physically mark out points in the ground. Generally, the three most common objects are pins, flags, and stakes.

By sticking a stake into the ground, it helps people visually see where their property boundaries are. It’s also used as a temporary measure by surveyors to mark out the territory they’re working in.

Grade Rods

A grade rod, also known as a leveling rod, is a long stick-like tool that is placed in the ground and used to determine the differences in elevation.

The most common types are made from aluminum and have adjustable telescoping sections to increase or reduce the length. Land surveyors use them in combination with optical and laser levels.


Surveyor’s levels are tools that measure the height of distant points in relation to a benchmark. Essentially, enabling a surveyor to determine the difference in elevation between two points.

There are a number of different types of levels that serve different purposes. The generic term for an optical level is a “dumpy” level. There are also laser, digital, automatic, and tilting levels.

Land Surveying Equipment Theodolites

Magnetic Locators

Magnetic locators are used to find underground objects with ferrous metal content. This usually means locating underground pipes, manholes and utility covers, and other structural materials that need to be included in drawings or mapped.

The interesting thing is that they work by using the earth’s magnetic field. Magnetic locators do not emit signals. Moreover, they measure the magnetic field distortion that is present around a metal object.

Safety Equipment

Land surveyors have to work in all kinds of weather conditions, on a wide range of different terrains and sites and are almost always working outdoors.

For these reasons, safety is one of the main concerns. In addition, land surveyors should always wear reflective or high visibility clothing, especially when on building sites or among traffic.

As well as the appropriate safety headwear and other equipment depending on their working conditions.


Surveyors use surveying prisms to measure the change in the position of any objects that are believed to be moving.

Prisms work by reflecting an Electronic Distance Measurement (EDM) beam back to the source object. This enables surveyors to accurately measure how far if at all, an object has moved.

GPS (Global Positioning System)

GPS is one of the most impactful pieces of land surveying equipment in recent years.

By using GPS, surveyors can capture highly accurate data and cover large areas in a matter of minutes sometimes. This is not possible with any of the other surveying tools.

GPS works by transmitting signals to and from a system of 30+ navigation satellites circling the earth. By bouncing these signals between satellites and a receiver, surveyors are able to accurately locate exactly where the receiver is.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

GIS is software that enables surveyors to create a digital map of an area they are surveying using the other data points they’ve collected.

This makes it a lot easier to see an area visually and work with the data. Surveyors can use a GIS-generated map to get deeper insights into the measurements they’ve collected and share the data.


As you can see, land surveying requires a wide range of tools – both analog and digital.

With the need to make precise measurements, land surveyors cannot do their work without some of the specific tools covered above.

At Accurate Land Surveyors, all of our land surveyors are highly skilled and qualified specialists in their field. There is no type of land survey we cannot perform, as you can see by looking at our services page here.

We use the latest in state-of-the-art computer and communication systems and proprietary custom-designed software. This enables our technicians to perform their work to the highest degree of accuracy and in the quickest possible time.

If you have any land surveying needs and want the services of professional land surveyors, call us today to find out more about your services and request a sample survey.