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Frequently Asked Questions

About using this site

General questions about surveying

Questions surveyors may have about the profession or WSLS in general

WSLS Members
Member questions about Society services


Do I need an account to use this website?

Most of the material is accessible to anyone who visits the website – no account is needed.  This includes Find a Surveyor, viewing Classified Ads or the Forum, checking Committee or Chapter activities, etc.

To post Forum comments or Ads or to access members-only material requires some type of account.

What are the types of site accounts?

There are five account types

  • Registered: For anyone interested in Surveying. User can view most site material and post comments on the Forum.
  • Member: For WSLS members. Includes Registered access plus may post Classified Ads and has access to members-only material. Available for all WSLS membership levels: Student, Associate, Affiliate, CST, Regular, Sustaining, Fellow, Life, and Life Fellow Members
  • Sustaining: For Sustaing members. Includes Member access plus business listing on the website.
  • Student: For a student in a surveying or related educational program. Includes Registered access plus allows posting Student Employment Wanted* ads.
  • Firm: For a Firm, Company, or Government entity which provides or uses surveying or related services which would like to post Classified Ads*.

How do I create an account?

If you are a WSLS member you will be assigned a WSLS Member account.

If you are not a member, you may use this page to register.

I forgot my password, what should I do?

To reset your password, simply click the "Forgot password" link on the log in form and follow the instructions.

How do I change my password?

To reset your password, simply click the "Forgot password" link on the log in form and follow the instructions to reset your password.

How can I submit a question or comment about the site?

Fill out the Website Feedback form

Can a company advertise on the site?

We do not accept advertising on the website. If your company or firm would like exposure on the website, consider joining WSLS as a Sustaining Member. Among Sustaining Member benefits are:

  • Free Business Card in each issue of Wisconsin Professional Surveyor
  • A Sustaining Member Business Listing page on the website.

Each Sustaining Member automatically receives a Business Listing page upon membership. The Business Listing allows you to include information about your company and services. The Business Listings use a standard format but each Member can modify their content as needed. Site visitors can access the list of Sustaining Members on our Sustaining Members page.

Of course, there are other benefits for Sustaining Members. More information on WSLS membership and how to apply are on our Become a Member page.


When should I have a survey?

Property should be surveyed when:

  • it is to be sold, purchased or mortgaged
  • improvements, such as buildings or fences are planned
  • location of its boundaries are uncertain or in dispute
  • it will be divided into parcels for sale or development
  • government regulations require a survey and map of your property
  • trespass or encroachment is evidenced or suspected

How can I find a surveyor?

One place to start is the Yellow Pages of your local or regional phone book.

Another source is a local WSLS Chapter – contact information for the chapter in your area can be found here.

You can also use Find A Surveyor to search for a WSLS member surveyor by County and Type of Survey needed. Not all WSLS members are included in Find A Surveyor but if you have a special survey need, this may be a good resource for you.

Why does a survey costs so much? All I saw the surveyor do was set up an instrument and make a few measurements.

The cost of a survey is affected by several factors that are involved in the development of a boundary survey. Among the factors affecting the survey cost are:

  • Type of legal description
  • Location of the property
  • Use of the property
  • Size of the property
  • Lay of the land
  • Use of the survey
  • Survey history of the area

All property surveys also require land records research in addition to fieldwork. Complexity of the research depends on how and when the property was created and relationship with surrounding properties.

A property survey adds value to your property investment, helps protect that investment, provides security for you and your neighbors, and peace of mind behind all of which stands the Professional Land Surveyor.

My County/City has an online GIS. Can't all the property research be done online?

Only a small portion of property records are included in an online GIS and the data shown may not be of uniform quality or at level of accuracy needed for boundary location. The surveyor must trace property lines back to when they were created which requires examining older written records that aren't, and may never be, available online. Most of these records are at the Register of Deeds but the surveyor may need to examine other public offices such as the Tax Lister, Dept of Transportation, and possibly private records.

Can I survey my property myself?

According to Wisconsin law, Stat 443.14(9),

“A license shall not be required for an owner to survey his or her own land for purposes other than for sale.”

If the property is later sold then corners you set have no legal standing. A Professional Surveyor is required if the survey is related to the sale of a property.

Although there are circumstance under which you can perform your own survey, remember that:

  • Your neighbors' property lines are also affected, and,
  • Local code and ordinances may be more restrictive than state law and further limit purposes for which you can perform your own survey.
  • A Land Surveyor has the expertise to properly research and evaluate conflicting written and physical evidence.

An incorrectly placed boundary can lead to strained relationships and, in some cases, very expensive lawsuits.

Where can I find information about the County Surveyors?

Links for the Wisconsin County Surveyors Association can be found by clicking here.

Do I need a survey?

Purchasing real estate is one of the most significant financial investments a person makes in their life. Having a survey done by a Professional Land Surveyor prior to purchase is an essential step in gaining peace of mind.

Land surveys can eliminate the costly expense of having to move a building, fence, garage or driveway. While most neighbors may agree where they think the property lines are, boundaries are not always where they appear to be. Agreements may not hold up in court if there is a discrepancy.

Land boundaries, especially those in question, should be located and mapped by a Professional Land Surveyor, and filed as a public record, prior to purchase.

Most municipalities also require a current survey be completed to acquire a permit for construction.


I've encountered some unique and confusing issues with my resurvey and map. Can someone review my map before I file it?

You may submit your map to the WSLS Survey Map Review Committee (SMRC) for a nonbinding review. SMRC consists of experienced WSLS members from around the state who can provide some guidance and advice. The SMRC's role is primarily educational, it has no enforcement authority. Check Survey Map Review for Wis Admin Code A-E 7 checklists and a Map Review Request form.

What should I do if I think another surveyor is violating legal requirements on his/her surveys?

According to Wis Admin Code A-E 8.08 Maintenance of professional standards:

“An architect, landscape architect, professional engineer, designer or land surveyor:

(1) Shall furnish the board with information indicating that any person or firm has violated provisions in ch. 443, Stats., rules in this chapter or other legal standards applicable to the profession.”

If you are uncertain of the severity of the issue or want to provide the surveyor an opportunity to “learn from his/her mistake” before elevating it to a disciplinary action, you may enlist the help of the Ethics and Standards of Practice Committee

Why do I need continuing education in order to keep my license?

Surveying's body of knowledge is growing at near exponential rates driven by technology and the needs of more spatial data users with higher accuracy and timelier acquisition requirements. In addition, procedures, standards, and regulations are also changing due to evolving societal and environmental issues. Taken in total, learning "on the job" is a costly and inefficient way to maintain competency, competitiveness, and protect clients' rights.

Continuing education is important on a personal level because it:

  • keeps you current on laws, regulations, permitting requirements, etc.
  • keeps you informed on evolving techniques and standards.
  • refreshes you on standards, rules, and concepts, particularly in areas outside your normal area of practice.
  • provides clients proof that you are continually learning processes and techniques necessary to perform a dependable project, which adds value and security to their property.
  • firms are increasingly using continuing education participation for hiring and promotion purposes.
  • provides opportunities to network with firms and other professionals.
  • shows you are a professional because you are continually improving yourself.

The overall profession benefits from individual continuing education efforts because

  • it provides a multi-perspective environment within which ethical questions or concerns can be discussed, both for the surveyor and the client.
  • regularly attended events promote new ideas and fellowship.
  • it can bring together individuals who as a group can work on issues affecting the profession.
  • it helps elevate the profession in the eyes of clients and society.

As professionals, we should never stop learning. Continuing education is more than just a requirement to maintain licensure: it's an essential element of professional growth.

What's the difference between a CST and a PLS?

A Professional Land Surveyor (PLS) is suveyor who has a state regulated license necessary for conducting Property Surveys in Wisconsin. Each state has its own laws regulating the surveying profession but all require a license to perform Property Surveys. A licensee must understand federal and state laws affecting boundary creation and re-establishment. To obtain a license requires specific combination of education, experience, and examination.

A Certified Survey Technician (CST) is a national multi-level certification offered by the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS). It is based on demonstrated technical competency. It does not authorize the certificate holder to perform Property Surveys. Generally CST is for field and office technicians who provide support for a PLS.

Why should I join WSLS?

Collective voices are are generally more powerful than singular ones. Membership supports WSLS legislative and continuing education activities.

Specific individual benefits include:

  • Publications, sponsored seminars, and Annual Institute discounts
  • Subscription to the Wisconsin Professional Surveyor, the Society's award winning quarterly newsletter.
  • UPS Shipping discounts

Joining WSLS includes membership in the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS), the national voice of Surveying. NSPS membership has its own benefits including extensive liability, E&O, equipment, and vehicle insurance coverages for businesses.

Where can I get information about County Coordinate Systems?

The Wis State Cartographer's Office website has a page devoted to the State and County Coordinate Systems at

Included is information on the original Wisconsin County Coordinate Systems (WCCS), updated Wisconsin Coordinate Reference Systems (WisCRS), as well as State Plane, UTM, and WTM systems.

Where can I get horizontal and vertical control information?

An excellent source of control information is the Wisconsin State Cartographer's Office's ControlFinder ( This is an online graphical interface to NGS, WisDOT Height Modernization, County, WISCORS, NGSCORS, and historic USGS control information. It provides various ways to search for control and in most cases provides direct links to the control information at the respective agency.

WSLS Members

I moved and need to update my mailing address. How do I do that?

You can update your address in your Profile (log in required).  If you have difficulty, send an email to

I have a suggestion for an Institute speaker or topic. Whom do I contact?

Submit your suggestion to the Annual Institute Planning Committee via the form on their Committee page.

How do I volunteer for a Committee?

If you're interested in a particular Committee, contact its Chairperson. Each Committee has its own page on this website. The pages describe Committee responsibilities and activities and will also provide the Chairperson's contact information.

I'd like to get involved in TrigStar. How do I start?

Visit the Trigstar Committee page on this site for contact information.

Does WSLS have any PR material I can use?

Yes, please visit the Outreach Committee page.

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