ASPRS Engages States

Above: State Licensure Map – Authoritative Imagery

ASPRS Launches New Initiative to Engage States as They Consider Regulating Photogrammetry under Existing Surveying Laws

At the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing’s (ASPRS) November 2014 fall conference in Denver, Colorado, ASPRS announced its “Licensure Plan for the State Licensing of Photogrammetrists” initiative. ASPRS recognizes an immediate need to assist states as they search for ways to ensure that proper regulations are created and implemented regarding supervision of both the capture systems and geospatial data products created and delivered to customers. This has gained importance with recent advances in technology, including the miniaturization of traditional photogrammetric capture platforms (e.g. Unmanned Aircraft Systems) and developments that allow remotely sensed data (photogrammetric and lidar data) to be captured at accuracy levels that support traditional surveying and engineering project requirements.


ASPRS has, for decades, worked with individual state licensing boards (e.g. Board of Engineers and/or Board of Surveyors) to provide guidance, when requested, regarding state licensure issues relating to photogrammetry and remote sensing.

In 1994, the Florida Board of Professional Surveyors and Mappers became the first board to widen its practice act to include photogrammetry in the definition of surveying practice. Since that time, other states have also recognized the need to regulate this type of mapping when it is used for purposes that affect public health, safety, and welfare. ASPRS has played an active role in the definition of photogrammetric practice for licensure purposes and has supported various states enacting model law language into their legislation. The model law of the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) defines the practice of surveying at a national level.

The ASPRS Professional Practice Division (PPD) and ASPRS Licensure Exam Development Committee, in joint efforts with the Colonial States Board of Surveyor Registration (CSBSR), have developed a “Mapping Sciences Exam” for the surveying community. In April 2006, a group of subject-matter experts sponsored by CSBSR and NCEES met with a psychometric consultant to perform a Professional Activities and Knowledge Study (PAKS). The group analyzed the 2003 PAKS that guided the creation of specifications for the most recent Principles and Practice of Surveying (PS) exam.

Focusing on the content that addresses photogrammetry, the group was able to determine specifications for the mapping sciences exam. This six-hour exam is maintained by the CSBSR and is currently available for administration by NCEES at the traditional April and October exam dates. Three states (NC, SC and OR) have already accepted this exam as a requirement for the licensure of Photogrammetrists under their individual state surveying statutes. As with engineering and architectural services, the practice of surveying is defined by individual states under their professional services regulations. Most state statutes define surveying to also include mapping that depicts the authoritative location of features.

New Initiative

As part of the new initiative, the ASPRS PPD is proactively engaging states when it becomes aware of a state discussing the potential licensure of photogrammetry or reviewing its current state surveying licensure laws. ASPRS is also actively searching through the 22 states that currently regulate photogrammetrically derived services and/or products, to ensure that there is an available licensure path for appropriately experienced and educated professionals.

The ASPRS PPD maintains national maps delineating how various states regulate various products and services. See the example map here delineating those states with current regulations pertaining to authoritative imagery products and services. Additional maps can be found on the PPD web page.

Summary of ASPRS Position on State Licensure

ASPRS supports the regulation of professional services as legislated by individual states and the common state requirements for professional licensure.

Most states are moving toward the requirements of a four-year degree as a qualification for professional licensure, as long as a minimum number of credits has been obtained in a surveying-related subject area. ASPRS supports individual states’ educational requirements if they allow for the acceptance of photogrammetry or remote sensing coursework to be included in accepted subject matter.

All states currently have an examination component for professional licensure. ASPRS supports states’ examination requirements. The ASPRS position, however, is that the aforementioned Mapping Sciences Exam should be utilized in place of the Professional Practice of Surveying exam when establishing exam requirements for licensure. Additionally, any state-specific exam should contain only the appropriate content relating to the practice of photogrammetry. ASPRS supports all states’ continuing education requirements for professional licensure. ASPRS supports the NCEES model law as it relates to photogrammetry and surveying.

ASPRS also supports a grandfather track for licensure in states where experienced practicing professionals have not been previously afforded a licensure path or where proposed changes to licensure laws will prevent such experienced practicing professionals from offering professional services in the future. ASPRS recommends that any grandfather track for licensure include education, experience and examination requirements as determined by individual states.

As the leading national organization representing practicing geospatial professionals in the fields of photogrammetry and remote sensing, ASPRS maintains a continued goal and initiative to provide assistance to any and all individual state boards of professional licensure, as they may pursue licensing regulations affecting current and future practicing photogrammetrists, through the sharing of information and experiences of practicing professionals across the nation.

NCEES Model Law The term “Practice of Surveying,” as used in this Act, shall mean providing, or offering to provide, professional services using such sciences as mathematics, geodesy, and photogrammetry, and involving both (1) the making of geometric measurements and gathering related information pertaining to the physical or legal features of the earth, improvements on the earth, the space above, on, or below the earth and (2) providing, utilizing, or developing the same into survey products such as graphics, data, maps, plans, reports, descriptions, or projects. Professional services include acts of consultation, investigation, testimony evaluation, expert technical testimony, planning, mapping, assembling, and interpreting gathered measurements and information related to any one or more of the following:

a. Determining by measurement the configuration or contour of the earth’s surface or the position of fixed objects thereon

b. Determining by performing geodetic surveys the size and shape of the earth or the position of any point on the earth

c. Locating, relocating, establishing, reestablishing, or retracing property lines or boundaries of any tract of land, road, right of way, or easement

d. Making any survey for the division, subdivision, or consolidation of any tract(s) of land

e. Locating or laying out alignments, positions, or elevations for the construction of fixed works

f. Determining, by the use of principles of surveying, the position for any survey monument (boundary or nonboundary) or reference point; establishing or replacing any such monument or reference point

g. Creating, preparing, or modifying electronic or computerized or other data, relative to the performance of the activities in items a–f above

A person shall be construed to practice or offer to practice surveying, within the meaning and intent of this Act, who engages in surveying or who by verbal claim, sign, advertisement, letterhead, card, or in any other way represents the person to be a professional surveyor or through the use of some other title implies that the individual is a professional surveyor or that the person is licensed or authorized under this Act or who holds the person out as able to perform or who does perform any surveying service or work or any other service designated by the practitioner which is recognized as surveying.


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