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Surveying continues growth as online program at OSU-OKC

OKLAHOMA CITY – Jeff DeLaughter had gone as far as he could go in his surveying career. Despite 25 years’ experience, he still had to work under someone else because did not have a degree or a license that would allow him to take on more responsibility and advance in the field.

That changed when DeLaughter received his associate of applied science degree in surveying technology from Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City in 2017.

“Unless you have a degree it’s almost impossible to move into management. Now I’m an associate and on a path to shareholder,” said DeLaughter, who works in the Frisco, Texas, office of Kimley-Horn. The civil engineering company even paid for his degree.

Licensed surveyors are in high demand and are paid three to four times as much as those doing the same work without a license, he said.

DeLaughter said he gets two or three job offers a week.

“There’s not enough surveyors,” he said. “Surveying is the industry to get into right now.”

He has hired three other graduates of the OSU-OKC program and encourages others in the company to enroll.

“I recommend it to everyone who comes through my office,” he said. “It’s definitely a great program.”

The OSU-OKC surveying program was dying when the decision was made to transform it into an online program in 2009-10, said Terry Clinefelter, department head of construction technologies.

“Maybe 20 students were enrolled at the time,” Clinefelter said. “This summer enrollment is at 80 students, with 30 percent out-of-state.”

People need access to the education but cannot find it where they live, he said. Students come from in Texas, New York, California and Alaska.

OSU-OKC reworked the classes to help students complete the 60 credits hours sooner. The majority are part-time students juggling jobs and families, he said.

It may take them longer than two years to get the two-year degree, but after they graduate and are licensed, they can be earning six figures within a few years, Clinefelter said.

“The industry is in very high demand for young people wanting to come in,” he said. “It’s a career where you can take any path you want.”

Surveyors can work indoors or outside. They can work for themselves or for a real estate developer, transportation department, utility company or oil and gas company.

“Anything involving land – buying, selling, modifying, royalties – a surveyor is probably involved,” Clinefelter said. “The program has been a huge success; the students have been even more.”

OSU-OKC’s surveying program provides a well-rounded, practical surveying education covering many facets of surveying including geodesy, photogrammetry, remote sensing, global positioning, computer-aided design, residential subdivision design and legal principles.

Cost of the two-year program – tuition, fees, books – is about $16,000, Clinefelter said. With support from the Oklahoma Society of Land Surveyors, students have the opportunity to join OSU-OKC’s OSLS chapter and apply for one of the scholarships offered annually.

To learn more go to https://osuokc.edu/surveying.