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Apprenticeship Surveying-Survey Chainman, Chief of Party

Apprenticeship Surveying

Chainman, Chief of Party

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Program Information

The Survey Chainman performs the following duties to assist on a surveying crew: holds level rod or distance meter reflector at designated points to assist in determining elevation and laying out stakes for map making, construction, land and other surveys; calls out reading or writes station number and reading in notebook; marks points of measurement with elevation, station or other identifying mark; measures distance between survey points, using surveyors tapes or electronic distance measuring equipment; marks measuring points with keel (marking crayon), paint, sticks, scratches, tacks, stakes or monuments; places stakes at designated points and drives them into ground, sometimes at specific elevation, using sledge hammers; cuts and clears brush and trees from line of survey using brush book, knife, ax or other cutting tools; obtains data pertaining to angles, elevations, control points and contours used for construction, map making, or other purposes; compiles notes, sketches and records of data obtained and work performed; directs work of subordinate members of survey crew; performs other duties relating to survey work as directed by the CHIEF OF PARTY.


Tools used by Chainmen include: levels, transits, Theodolites, electronic distance measuring equipment, Global Positioning System, electronic data collectors, hand-held calculators, computers, reflectors, rods, surveyors tapes, plumb bob, sledge hammers (up to 12 lbs.), hand hammers, hatchets, brush hooks, machetes, shovels, picks, chisels, drills.


Employers include land surveying and civil engineering firms, and general construction contractors throughout Southern California. Most work is outdoors, often requiring commuting to distant job sites. Work hazards include exposure to sunburn, poison oak, snake bite, danger from moving machinery, highway traffic and falling objects.

The Chief of Party works under the direction of a Licensed Land Surveyor and leads the work of a survey party engaged in surveying Earth's surface to determine precise location and measurements of points, elevations, lines, areas, and contours for construction, mapmaking, land division, titles, or other purposes.  The Chief of Party is responsible for checking the accuracy of the survey party's work, making accurate measurements, and solving survey problems.  A Chief of Party must keep accurate notes, records and sketches to describe the work performed.

The Chief of Party uses levels, transits, plane tables, alidades, Theodolites, electronic distance measuring equipments, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), electronic data collectors, hand-held calculators, computers, reflectors, rods, surveyor's tapes, plumb bobs, sledge hammers (up to 12 lbs.), hand hammers, hatchets, brush hooks, machetes, shovels, picks, chisels, drills.

Employers include land surveying and civil engineering firms and general construction contractors throughout Southern California.

Most work is outdoors, often requiring commuting to distant job sites. Work hazards include exposure to sunburn, poison oak, snake bite, danger from moving machinery, highway traffic and falling objects.

Apprentices must be prepared to work full-time as paid indentured apprentices in the Surveying field.  They must also attend related and supplemental classroom instruction.  College credit is earned for the classroom instruction.

Successful completion of the apprenticeship program (1) leads to journeyworker status with the State of California, (2) satisfies major requirements for an associate degree through Santiago Canyon College, and (3) satisfies requirements for a Certificate of Achievement through Santiago Canyon College.

Application Information

Application for the Chainman Surveying Apprenticeship program can be obtained from the Southern California Surveyors Joint Apprenticeship Committee's administrative office by phone, by mail, by e-mail, or in person. This program is open to all qualified applicants without regard to race, creed, color, national origin or sex.

All applicants must:

  1. Be at least eighteen (18) years of age. No maximum age.

  2. Be in good health and physically able to perform all phases of the work. Applicant may be subject to drug testing prior to being eligible for employment.

  3. Be able to read, write, and speak the English language, in order to comprehend instructions on the job and in related training classes, and to insure personal and co-worker safety on the job.

  4. Complete an application form containing a complete schooling record and previous work experience, and submit it to the Joint Apprenticeship Committee's administrative office.

  5. Show proof of High School graduation from an accredited secondary school in the United States, or a certificate showing satisfactory scores in the General Education Development (G.E.D.) test, prior to taking the qualification test

  6. Produce documentation of being eligible for employment in the United States, prior to taking the qualification test

  7. Have an educational background in algebra and geometry, sufficient to obtain a satisfactory score (75% or higher) on the Surveyors Joint Apprenticeship Qualifications Test.

Having met the above qualifications, applicants will receive a letter of notification which may be used to seek employment in the manner, which will be explained in detail at an orientation to all applicants passing qualifications test. Applicants will be notified by mail of the date, time and location of qualifications test.


Applicants will be notified in writing of acceptance or rejection and be given reasons if rejected.


Contact Information

Southern California Surveyors Joint Apprenticeship Committee
9480 Utica Ave., #604
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730
(909)243-7973