Statistics prove that surveying is one of the most in-demand career fields today — and Tyler Junior College graduates are popular with companies trying to fill those open positions.
The average age of a land surveyor is 58. For every 25 engineers in Texas, there’s only one surveyor.
Patti Williams, TJC surveying and geomatics professor, said, “We’re a graying profession, meaning many surveyors are retiring — so, everybody wants to hire our students.”
On Tuesday, 24 potential employers from across the state came to the TJC central campus to meet more than 40 students from the TJC Surveying & Geomatics program — most of whom will be graduating in May.
“We intentionally hold the career fair on the Tuesday before spring break, so the students can organize their interviews for the next week,” Williams said. “Most of the companies have TJC alumni already working there, and they bring those alumni with them to meet our students.”
“These companies are located everywhere,” said TJC student Will Dougherty, of Tyler, who will graduate in May. “I plan to move away from East Texas, but I don’t want to be in a big city. They’ve taught us well here, so I know that I’ll find somewhere I like and get a job.”
Jason Jernigan graduated from the TJC program in 2003, earned his bachelor’s degree from The University of Texas at Tyler in 2004, went straight to work and was named Young Surveyor of the Year in 2008. He’s been rising through the professional ranks, ever since.
Today, as chief operating officer for Carrollton-based ARS Engineers, Jernigan is looking for new recruits.
“TJC students are very much sought-after because this is the only school in the state, in my opinion, that really teaches boundary surveying, which is what surveyors in Texas must get licensed in,” he said. “If you want to bring on people who actually know what they’re doing as far as boundary surveying goes, the TJC students are where it’s at.”
He continued, “That’s why we’re all here today. Everyone is here trying to get people who actually know how to survey instead of just knowing GIS and the high-tech stuff. Those things are great to know, don’t get me wrong; but you need a license in boundary surveying, and that’s what TJC prepares you for.”
Surveying professionals also “take care of their own” in many ways, including providing scholarships for students.
The Texas Society of Professional Surveyors Chapter 5, of which Jernigan is a member, recently awarded $10,800 in John Pierce Education Assistance Fund scholarships to nine TJC students for Spring 2023; and a local organization, Surveying Education Foundation of Texas awarded $17,475 in scholarships to 27 area students, 25 of whom are currently in the TJC program.
“We want to keep awarding these scholarships and encouraging the students to stay in the program and keep that surveyor pipeline full,” Jernigan said. “The main thing we want to get across is that surveying is out there, you can make a great career out of doing something that you really enjoy, and you can do it right out of college.”
TJC Surveying & Geomatics department chair and professor Willace Johnson couldn’t agree more.
“Every student with a desire and willingness to work is able to pick and choose where they wish to work,” Johnson said. “Many are currently employed with very small rural companies in East Texas in entry-level positions where they are very well trained and mentored. However, many students have never considered a larger company in metro areas where the pay and opportunities are considerably greater, and this career fair introduces the students to those as well.”
For more information on the program, go to TJC.edu/Surveying.