Five Essential Surveying Tools

Surveying is an essential part of any type of construction, whether new materials are being built, or if the government is looking to repair an old road. Surveyors also have the added responsibility of making sure that the public’s surroundings are safe. This includes:

  • Roads
  • Bridges
  • Ships
  • Underwater and underground pipes

Much of the work of the surveyor is based on math and physics. Angles must be measured, as well as distances and elevations. In the case of pipes and other materials made from metal, the surveyor must determine the safety in relation to its thickness.

These professionals rely on a lot of different tools out in the field. Explore the top five essential tools no surveyor should go without.

Thickness Gauges

Many structures contain metal pipes. Examples include water boilers in public places as well as oil and gas pipes. While pipes in systems might be located in buildings, others are located underneath the ground or in water. In order to determine the safety and longevity of the pipes, the thickness of the metal is measured at least once a year by a surveyor.

During the survey, these professionals use a thickness gauge to make these determinations. The instrument not only measures the thickness of the metal to see how much wear and tear the material has undergone, but it may also help the surveyor predict the onset of leaks.


A part of the surveyor’s job also entails making sure that a space is level before construction. This includes buildings as well as roadways. However, you cannot rely on your eyes alone to see if a particular space is level, no matter how skilled you are. For this reason, surveyors rely on levels for accurate measurements.

A hand level is most commonly used for small portions that the surveyor looks at up close. Bigger areas require larger equipment – this is where the Abney level comes into play.

The Abney level utilizes a protractor to correctly measure angles, but it also helps give surveyors elevation stats.

Total Station

A total station is a more modern piece of equipment that is often used in conjunction with levels and gauges. With a total station, surveyors can accurately measure angles and distances with a computerized tool that stores all the information for later. You can then transfer all the data onto a laptop or office computer.

Measuring Wheel

Measuring wheels are often some of the first tools used before a particular construction site is broken. This metal takes a quick survey of the surrounding area to give a rough idea of the distance.

In order to complete this, you need to walk the wheel around the perimeter. This piece of equipment isn’t recommended for uneven areas.

Global Positioning Systems

Just as you use a global positioning system (GPS) in your car or on your phone to get where you need to go, surveyors also use this tool for many of their projects.

GPS’s are usually one of the final pieces of equipment used at the end of a job. Data is usually transferred back to the home office.

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